Plumbing in the Home/Septic


Hello, I am the first time owner of a septic tank and live in the Atlanta, GA area. The septic tank is 1000 gallons with two chambers and buried about 4ft underground. It is concrete and in good shape. I had it pumped and inspected, no problems were found. When I first moved into this home 2years ago there were no problems. I also did not know anything about septic tanks. Well…For the past 4-5 months the liquid in the tank has not been going out. The drain field looks to be fine, no saturated areas, looks just like the rest of my property. I dug up both sides of the tank. The inlet looks fine, waste goes in fine. When looking into the outlet side tank you can see the liquid above the outlet pipe and baffle. I am planning on getting a filter to put in place of the baffle on the outlet pipe to keep solids from entering the drain field. I suspect solids (waste and other junk that got flushed) made its way into the pipe and stopped it up. However, when we have heavy rain, the rainwater makes its way into the tank. My question is how can the pipe be clogged not allowing water out if rain water is being caught in the system and flowing into the tank? Can there be a problem with the d-box or somewhere else I am not aware of? If I dig up the d-box how big should I expect it to be? What can I do to attempt to fix this issue without paying $$$$? I am a big dyi, please help! I have been put on a crash course of everything septic tank in the past 4-5 months!

Hi Terrell,
Okay, you have most of the procedure down but I think you may be a little off on one area. I think you said you see solids in the liquid tank? If this is true then the baffle is failing or the solids side is not functioning properly. Solids should never enter the outlet pipe of the system. BUT not all tanks have two compartments. I have always thought that two compartments are best but a system can work with only one compartment HOWEVER it for sure has to be sized properly for the amount of use it will have...

Just visualize the system and think it out. Solids and fluid enter the tank (raw sewage side or solids side whatever you choose to call it) and the solids are supposed to remain on the entry compartment until dissolved by bacteria and  natural degradation. There are many websites that provide good pictures and information that you should utilize to solve any issue.

At any rate there should NEVER be solids or paper or anything but liquid entering the outlet of the tank or into the leach field. Still over time and with faulty tanks leach fields will eventually plug up and fail.

Fundamentals; anytime a pump truck lifts the lid of your septic tank they should pump the tank and verify it is working properly and in the case of a two-compartment tank VERIFY that the liquid side has NO solids. If the liquid side has solids, what has happened??? either the solids have floated over the baffle or came through the baffle both causes that demand repair.

As for the rainwater intrusion; could be several causes and the location of the tank in relation to the surrounding geography will usually give you the answer. Too, having the lid off the tank recently is suspect that it may not have been properly sealed shut. You just have to investigate and figure it out. I think you seemed to believe the rainwater was coming in through the leach line and if the leach field is plugged that would be a possibility because the leach field can be plugged solid on the bottom but water can still get in the leach line as the holes in the leach line are never exactly on the bottom of the pipe or at least should not be. Normally the holes in the leach line are at about 45 degrees off the bottom of the pipe and on both sides of the pipe...some leach lines even have four rows of holes but most utilize only two rows...leach field can be solid plugged and water still flow into the leach line...possible, even likely.

So, just a brief summary, if the leach field is over 30 years old it is suspect. Two compartment tank no solids on the liquid side. Outlet should be designed that only liquid will enter the leach line. There are treatments that will help and prolong the life of a system. Replacing a leach field is a fairly common requirement.

I hope I have given you some help but it is all on your perception and for sure think everything through and i am sure you will find the answer. Get on the web and look at all the info you can, it will help you figure it out. You tube has videos that can help.

good luck, cort

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Cortez (cort) Cate


PLEASE read this entire introduction. I have been doing this for a long time and I have come to the conclusion that if you are not willing to take the time to write a detailed question then don't expect a detailed solution! I am getting far to many questions that do not give enough detail to warrant a good solution. I realize it is a little difficult to formulate a good question but if you want a good answer you have to give me good this entire introduction please....remember this website is world wide I have no clue where you live if you don't tell give more detail on the fixture you are having problems with...a one piece eljer 3.5 gallon flush will be totally different than a one-gallon flush toto.....details are important. I can answer most questions related to residential and commercial plumbing for many buildings. I have sufficient knowledge of the UPC and UMC. I will speculate for you if necessary. In those cases I will try to give you some guidance and you should use that to refine the question further and we, together, can seek the answer via a follow up. Plumbing codes and practices vary around the world--If you don't tell me where you live the answer I give may not fit your locality. I am giving my time to you as a way of fulfilling my perceived obligation to share. I am here to try to help you find a solution to your problem. REMEMBER, If you want a good answer you need to ask a detailed question and include where you live, type of pipes, type of building, water pressure if it is a water problem, type of heater, age of appliance & building all these and many more are variables that have an effect on various situations. Detailed information will help produce a better answer.


Since 1972 a California licensed B-1 General Building Contractor, C-36 Plumbing and C-16 Fire Sprinkler Contractor; also installing and servicing Heating, Air Conditioning and Sheet Metal operating as C and C Building and Plumbing, California State License 279516. In 1995 I downsized the company to become semi-retired. Still I remain active in the construction industry. As head of a company I placed personnel and job safety as the number one objective followed closely by training and continuing education. Always seeking to stay informed of leading edge technology in the industry. Also I have spent several years as an Apprenticeship Instructor in the Pipe Trades Unions. Additionally I am a certified OSHA instructor.

United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Instruction Training, Ann Arbor, MI Bakersfield College, Bakersfield CA Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, CA Foothill College, Los Altos, CA California Licensed Contractor from 1971

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