SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
terrier96

help with septic system issue

15 years ago

We decided last fall to build a pool and went through the process of getting estimates. We have a huge yard and thought we had plenty of room to do whatever we wanted with a pool, but found out the septic tank and field lines basically cut down our available space for a pool to a quarter or less than what we thought we had.

Every pool builder that came to give us an estimate gave us different amount of feet required to be away from the septic tank and lines, so we called the health depart to get the official parameters, since they would be doing the inspecting. We were told we would probably have to move the field lines or tank or both and we would have to have a soil test to determine if that is even possible. We did the soil test, found out we could move the system if neccessary, but then heard horror stories about how much that would cost.

Since we also needed to replace the electric panel and upgrade it handle the requirements of a pool and a portable spa, we decided it was going to be too much to put in a pool at that time. In the mean time, we decided to completely remodel our kitchen, which is done now and I love it!! But now that it is hot, we(my sons and I) are now wishing and dreaming of that pool we were going to get. So I am back in planning for the pool. (much to Dad's dismay) Next week I will be going ahead with replacing the electric panel for the whole house, then will have them put a sub panel at the same time to handle pool and spa. We have to do this anyway because the electric is outdated and overloaded especially now that I have the new kitchen.

My goal is to have a pool and complete back yard makeover by next years swimming season (or sooner) I hope to include new wood deck, new fencing, new patio and outdoor kitchen area and of course the portable spa.

Please help me with all the advice you can? Do I demo some of the existing driveway to make room for a smaller pool than we wanted to avoid having to move the septic system, or do we go ahead and just get the pool we want and move the septic system at whatever that will cost, and does anybody know how much that could be??? I am still undecided about gunite or vinyl, which is better for a large family with four teenage soons who will have lots of friends over, we also have two dogs. Does anyone have advice about the replacing and upgrading the electrical panel before we do that? I am thinking that if we do this in stages it might be better less stress on our family.

Any advice will be appreciated, I have been watching this forum since last fall and have got lot of great ideas for our pool.

Comments (15)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You might want to consider going with an aerobic septic system, that will free up most of your yard. Anaerobic systems like you have now require a lot of space because you have to have a large leeching field grid. With an aerobic system you have no grid at all. It has 3 tanks (the first is for oxygenating, the 2nd is a settling tank and the 3rd is the chlorination/ discharge) and has 3 or 4 sprinkler heads that just pop up and empty the 3rd tank contents now and then. As long as the system is operating properly and you haven't neglected to add chlorination tablets, the effluent has no odor and simply waters part of your lawn.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow! That is an interesting idea, especially because we are considering the need for spinkler system when the pool goes in, (for the rest of the yard) and since we are in the midst of a drought here in TN, our grass is suffering miserably. Reusing the septic water sounds very Eco friendly. So... is the cost of a system such as that comparable to replacing or changing the current system? Do you know where I can find out more info. on an aerobic septic system, and how far from those tanks will a pool have to be( probably the same as existing tank???) of course the tank itself is not the main problem, the problem as you seem to know is the field lines and the reserve area, etc. thanks so much for the info

  • Related Discussions

    Has anyone tackled a septic system install.

    Q

    Comments (15)
    I'm doing the same thing (self-install) in my area, which like you, requires a perc test and soil analysis. Plus a permit up here, but you're allowed to do your own on your own land. I managed to score the *same* manual used in our septic installer's course for certification, and the 3-day (THREE DAYS is all the training required for anyone to become a certified installer here), was more about what a field is, then proper slope and installation. I'd recommend a chamber type system, as they're much easier (imo) to install then a pipe system. My local seller (the 2nd one...the first didn't want to lose the business of pro installers by helping little old me), was actually willing to help me clean up my septic design (I made it based on everything i learned, he sat down and improved it), and even gave me his number to call should I have any questions all weekend long. Seriously, NOT as complicated as they make you think. Heck, my dad's first septic field failed 3 times in the first 10 years and he had it done by a pro. Redid it himself finally and it's gone another 15 without issue. Go figure.
    ...See More

    Septic Issues

    Q

    Comments (5)
    It's smarter to put the leach field in the best place and then accommodate that location rather than put the field in a less desirable place and try to make it work. Septic requirements vary based on locale and governing authority but it should be no surprise to the septic installer that water always flows DOWNHILL. Output filters have been required for a while and if you're saying that the leach field is saturating all the way uphill and back flowing into the filter clogging it then you have a more serious problem than a filter element change, which may not be legal, will correct. If the septic installer is licensed and the job was permitted and inspected then I would contact the inspector and have him/her out to the property to see if the installed drain curtain meets requirements and to advise him/her of the problems you are having. If it meets requirements but is not resolving the problem then the resolution is with the septic installer to make it operate correctly. You don't want the symptom treated you want the disease cured and that may require an attorney but try to resolve the problem with the installer first cause it will cost you both less without lawyers getting involved.
    ...See More

    Help... my dream house deal will be off...due to septic tank issue

    Q

    Comments (6)
    klem1 I think you are a little off base: So you make offers / counter-offers /etc until you agree on price, possession, etc. and the offers are generally subject to inspections (you can write the offer any way you want, but that's the common practice here). The buyer has a certain amount of time to bring in an inspector of their choice. It may be necessary to bring in inspectors who specialize in certain areas (wells, septic tanks, for example). I suspect that the septic inspector was probably a company that services and installs septic systems and thus could estimate the cost of repairs. This would not be a city/county/town code inspector -- this would be a private company that does this. If significant defects are noted it often starts a second round of negotiation where the seller may remedy the defect before closing, or agree to provide a negotiated amount of cash at closing to compensate for the defect, or the deal can fall through because the offer expires or fails to close on time. If I was the seller, once I was made aware of potential significant defects in the septic, I'd want the buyer to agree to a second inspection by a neutral 3rd party that they could both agree on. The results of the first inspection should not be shared with the second. I don't really see any problem with what the OP has stated - other than they need to get it all in writing and it needs to be substantiated. The OP will be paying for this inspection and it should be professional and hold up to questioning.
    ...See More

    Septic Issues - Who Chases?

    Q

    Comments (9)
    Sometimes the realtor may have a personal contact with the Town. That may grease the skids. Once the issue is identified, you need to deal with it. Keep everyone in the loop. Even the buyer's realtor may have contacts that could prove helpful. This is why communication between all of the parties will be essential.
    ...See More
  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm sorry to say I don't know anything about the costs, I'm an architect but I do commercial work almost exclusively. I would think it would cost less than anaerobic because there's not as much labor involved since a large drainage field isn't required. But it does require electrical service for the aeration pump and 3 tanks are required instead of 2, so it may be about the same or possibly even a little more.

    Most plumbing codes state that you can't have a "people space" (like a patio) or anything edible (fruit trees, veggie garden, etc.) in the spray area. This is based on your county plumbing codes, a local septic contractor will probably be pretty familiar with your codes and can advise you on restrictions and limitations.

    They use a lot of them in our area because the clay we have cannot absorb anaerobic effluent. We've had one the 8 years we've been in our house and it's been trouble-free during that time. Our codes require that the system be checked out quarterly to make sure it's operating properly.

    Regarding watering the lawn, unfortunately it's not going to generate enough effluent to water an entire lawn (sure would be nice!) We have a regular sprinkler system that covers about 3/4 of our acre lot and the septic heads cover about half of the remainder. So about 1/8 acre maybe? It discharges once or twice a day and runs for about 10 minutes each time. Most of that is due to laundry and showers.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    See if you can get the health dept. to come and look at your yard to get an exact answer. The septic move along with the drought make me think that you should pass on the pool. How many years have you been in a drought? They do make you stop topping off pools when it gets bad. Dont make any plans without having someone out to your lot that would be the one to sign off on it. What size pool are you thinking?

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have had the health dept come and look at the yard. They said I had to have a soil test to determine if I could move the drain field and or tank. The soil test passed and the health dept told me to submit plans for the pool ,then they would tell me what had to be done for it to pass inspection.
    The drought in east TN has been going on for several years now and is not as bad as last year(so far) and no regulations have been put into place about topping off pools. At least I don't think so. Now I will check on that.
    I have 10 homes on my street, 5 of them have pools. We swim at the neighbors alot but would love to have our own for parties and relaxtion w/o having to intrude on our neighbors all the time. We travel at least 3 times a year to a tropical destination because we love the water so much. My boys and I really would love a pool and the bigger the better. We can get a 40 or more in length, but the width is where we will run over the space required to be from the drain fields. It is possible to put a 36x18 ito that space if I have some of driveway removed and change the location of our deck, which needs to be replaced anyway.
    I have considered having a architect work on this for me, would this be worth it?

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Call the permit department and talk to them or have them come out. We have 3 acres and had to relocate our pool during the planning stages. The health dept believed that our septic tank and field were not where the plat showed. They asked us to move the pool about 25', so rather than get a backhoe out and try to prove them wrong, we moved the pool. The pool is still required to be seperated by a minimum distance of 30' from any part of the septic system. Also, in our county, we have a reserve area of 10,000 sq ft on each lot. The reserve area is where a 2nd drain field can be located if the primary field fails, nothing may be built over the reserve area. Septic systems are routinely moved here, call a septic contractor and have him give you an estimate.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I can tell you from direct experience if you happen to not do the proper chlorination on those type septic systems it is horrible! Unfortunately several of the homes here have started going with those instead of the septic tank and drainage field lines. Some of them tend to "forget" to maintain it properly and the smell is horrid, plus the fact it is spraying the remains out on the lawn to be walked on just bothers me. We have a septic tank and drain lines, I am very glad we do, we had looked at some homes with the smaller aerobic systems, we in my opinion lucked out with the type we have.
    The size you mentioned is a really nice size pool I think if it were me I would leave the septic alone and go with a bit smaller pool, and spare the expense, that way you can use all that extra money on a nicer deck and pool and landscaping.
    I have owned both vinyl liner pools and gunite. I liked both. The vinyl is cheaper but you will have to plan on replacing the liner occasionally, but with gunite you have upkeep also. I never had any rips happen in my vinyl due to regular activities only from sun damage and age. Vinyl can usually go in much faster so you can plan on using it earlier. IF you do go with vinyl be really sure you use a contractor that has done a lot of them and go look at some! There are a LOT of various pool manufactures for vinyl pools research them and figure out which type you want, find someone that knows that type. We had a guy install our vinyl pool at a previous home that had what looked like good experience, we looked at some pools he had done, looked good but when he came to put ours in he was using a brand new pool type he had never used, was not the type we had agree to, and it did not go well. We ended up with wrinkles in the liner because he did not vacuum it in properly, we ended up having the pool manufacturers come out and look at it, they were pretty upset with his work. All in all it did turn out ok, but now I know much much more about how it should be done! So doing your research ahead of time is a really good plan.
    Plus if you want a lot of water features with your pool those tend to work better with a gunite pool. Our current pool which is gunite has a big spa with a rock wall waterfall from the spa into the pool, we could not have done that with the vinyl pool very easily.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am getting some great information here. I should have posted sooner.
    As for "Ducter" I'd bet you were my husband when you said I should pass on the pool idea, but I know he'd never be reading or posting on a pool and spa forum. HA!
    It is sounding like I should try to leave the current septic system in place if possible and demo some of the driveway for a pool. Especially since the current system is working well. And if and aerobic septic system requires diligence in chlorinating (or whatever) then that is not an option. We are very ADD when it comes to maintainance of such things. Which is why I have already decided if and when a pool goes in, we will be having a weekly pool service. In fact, one of the criteria I have for a builder is someone who can maintain it as well, so there will be an on going relationship.
    I have not decided yet if vinyl or gunite will be better for us. I like the feel of vinyl pools, don't really want any water features, like the better price so I can have other things as well(outdoor kitchen). But I am concerned about vinyl with the dogs, and I am sure one of those boys can figure how make a tear. I do have a builder in mind if we chose vinyl. I have seen his pools and they are awesome. Hard to tell they are vinyl. He builds gunite as well but his expertise seems to be with vinyl pools and he also seems to prefer them. If we decide on gunite I may have to go with another one I have in mind.
    Yes, I know I have lots of planning and researching which is why I am posting here, of course. Thanks for everyone's advice. Very helpful.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm getting ready to redo my septic field right now and have been researching the issue. There are other alternatives. One is a mound system. you pump the stuff up into a berm in your landscaping. I didn't look into that very much so I'm not sure, but I think that take up less space.

    The other alternative is a peatmoss filter. I heard that in some places the effulent that comes out can be used for irrigation, without a field. That is not approved in New Jersey, but it is in some places. It's expensive and needs a service plan.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I wonder how any alternatives can handle a five bedroom house with lots of laundry and showers going on.
    I do actually have room to move the drain fields.
    The other option, which is not really an option, is city sewer, since I am in the city limits. This is an older subdivision and city sewer has been put in to to top of the bluff above me( about 10 houses up the street) and there is city sewer in the new subdivision built on the bluff directly below my lot, but city sewer people say they will not be putting sewer in for my property ever. What about that?? I may call and see if that has changed in the six months since I first asked.
    Another funny thing, about 8 years ago, I had my field lines dug up and replaced. Had I known then we would want a pool, could have preplanned better, but that was almost an emergency sit, since the lines concreted up and backed up into the house. Big mess. Insurance got us new carpet for that.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Quote: "I can tell you from direct experience if you happen to not do the proper chlorination on those type septic systems it is horrible!"

    While this is a true statement, it takes a really lazy soul to let it get to that point! There is a chlorination tube inbetween the 2nd and 3rd tanks. Depending on the load on the system, it needs to be refilled at anywhere from 2 to 4 week intervals. The biggest problem with this is you can't use pool tabs and the septic tabs are expensive. We just recently found out that a liquid chlorinator can be installed and we just had one put in. It's great! You just have to pour household bleach in every few weeks and that's it. If you can't walk out there and top off a tube every 3 weeks, then you don't want to get a pool, LOL!

    Checking into an SS tie-in is definitely worth a phone call. That would probably be the cheapest alternative and it would free up your entire yard for a truly huge pool :-)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    We had to move our septic tank and part of the field when we installed our pool in 2003 (we have since moved). They ended up relocating the tank but were able to use some of the existing lines in the field...they ended up taking out the first 3-4 lines and then adding those lines back on at the end of the field. It cost us $2800 for the septic work (in Virginia) which we didn't think was that bad but then we also had to add in the cost of taking down some very large trees that were in the way of the lines...it added almost as much as the septic work and came out to close to $5000 to the cost of the pool.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    tresw I agree they definitely were lazy and not paying attention obviously, but the really funny thing is that they were having a big outdoor event in their back yard when the thing went off and spewed that foul smelling stuff out. Pretty embarrassing, especially since the house belongs to a doctor and his family. For those of us living near by we thought well now maybe they will start to actually pay attention! They never go in their own back yard you see but some of us back up to it! We are on acreage here so luckily we do have plenty room for our system and the pool.
    One house we looked at when buying had the septic and lines directly out the back door which meant the pool would have to go in a side yard, it was one of our deciding factors on not choosing it. I really wonder why better planning does not go into consideration when putting in septic systems.

    I have Great Danes and they really do NOT like water so the only time they were in the pool was when they accidentally fell in which was not often, so I never had to worry about them ripping the liner, the liners are fairly heavy gauge, you can upgrade to even heavier liners than the standard package too which you might consider. The times I had to replace my liner the manufacturer had a pro-rated schedule to cover part of the cost of the replacement cost of the liner itself, not installation cost.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't think anyone who knows us would call us lazy, but sometimes we certainly have trouble paying attention. As I said, very ADD family!!!

    We are smart enough, though, to know that adding something else that needs maintainance might not be a good idea for us, especially if there is another way.

    I know, a pool is a lot of maintainance, and we are considering that. But the truth is, I would be willing to do a little work for a pool, but for a septic system??? I can't see myself getting down to that back part of the yard where I imagine that type of system might be. (Just like the doc), but, no one else backs up directly to our property. We do manage to keep a nice front yard (friendly competition w/ neighbors for the greenest,most weed free, sometimes we win) but our back is neglected more than I would like it to be. One of the reasons I want to turn it into lovely place for our family to enjoy. we ARE out on the deck alot, and the boys are in the driveway shooting hoops or passing a football on the front(flat there) but that back is long(506') and slopes down so the back part is usually just "NATURAL". I actually just gave one of my boys a summer time job cutting back brush it took him a full week to get it to the back fence. Actually, if I knew how to post pictures here I would post one of the yard so every one can get a better idea of what I am describing, but right now I am embarrassed to show due to all that brush that yet needs to be hauled off(only since last week)
    Funny,I wouldn't let him use a chain saw but he whipped out an axe and the Machete he brought home from Belize (I wondered why in the world?? when he showed me this souvenier but we actually found a good use for it)(Anyboyd know about teenage boys?). Sorry, way off topic there, but I do think we can maintain a pool, especially if we have a good pool service helping, who can point out things to us that need taken care of that we might not see immediately.

    Kadz, I am hoping that like you, all I will have to do is move a field line to the back. When I had the field lines replaced some years back, the cost was reasonable, about 1800 here in TN, which included digging and new lines. I really need to find that man's phone number and call him back here. We were pleased with his promptness and price and work he did. I want him to mark every thing out for me so I can visualize it better. And that reminds me of another question,......
    Tresw, do you know the actual dimensions in feet of a septic tank? I have googled and only found out what capacity, but I want to know how many feet long it is. Are they 10 ft or so? The tank is the size which would be put in for a 3 bedroom house(although we now have five)
    The patio extends about 13" directly from the back of the house, the riser is 3" from the patio and I am assuming the tank starts there and extends lengthwise back from there.
    And also, thanks Ravencajun, for reassuring me about the dogs and vinyl. If that were going to be a problem, that would have made my decision go to gunite, that is if the pools actually becomes a reality. My sweet dogs come first and if they want to swim, they will get to. But what about fur in the pool?? I don't think Danes shed alot, but one of my babies is a husky. Huskies don't shed alot once they have "BLOWN" their coat, but during that time it is a mess!!!! I am talking about trash full of nothing but dog fur. No doubt in my mind how they withstand the artic cold!!! My terrier sheds year round which is a pain, but more manageble.
    Thanks again everyone for all the advice and keep it coming.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Quote: "but the really funny thing is that they were having a big outdoor event in their back yard when the thing went off and spewed that foul smelling stuff out."

    Ha! What's even funnier is by code a disconnect/breaker is required right next to the aerator. So they could have simply thrown 2 switches and it would have immediately stopped. I have to do that when I'm mowing sometimes (if the heads kick on while I'm mowing).

    Quote: "But the truth is, I would be willing to do a little work for a pool, but for a septic system???"

    Pool maintenance has gotten easier over the years, but hopefully you know that it's not just a set-and-forget proposition. If you think refilling a chlorination tube might be a problem for your family to remember, then I suspect you will often find yourself with a nice, green wildlife pond where your pool was just a couple of weeks before ;-) Pools do take quite a bit of maintenance even with today's technology. I like working on stuff anyway, so I enjoy messing with the pool. Will I still like it in 10 years? The jury is out on that :-) Most people I know that have hired a pool service quickly discovered that they were paying a lot of money for very little service. A pool service company rarely cares about a pool as much as the pool owner does.

    Quote: "Tresw, do you know the actual dimensions in feet of a septic tank?"

    They come in all different shapes, sizes and configurations. Yours was probably installed as a 1000 gallon tank if it was for 3 bedrooms. That would be around 8' x 4' I think?