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We had to have our septic tank pumped. It's regular maintenance if you have a septic system, which isn't a big deal. It was however, amazingly mal-odorous, so thank goodness for you that smell-o-internet hasn't been invented yet. Why put up a page about this? So that I can find it again later with less digging, of course! Since I had to find and uncover both access hatches, and I had to do a lot of digging to find them both, I took a few pictures and some measurements so I'd be able to easily find the access hatches next time. I also took some overall measurements of the tank and where it's at to make sure I don't inadvertently put any landscaping someplace where I might have to dig in the future should the tank need to be replaced...

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All that measuring came in handy a year or so after the above digging and pumping when I had to do some repairs on a cracked fitting in the main drain line right inside the crawlspace, which meant I had to dig up the line outside the crawlspace that runs to the septic tank to see where it could be cut into for the repair. I found out that the top of the tank is about 12" below grade and the main drain line enters the tank about 24" below grade. Surprisingly, I found that the main drain line was just inches below grade where it comes out of the foundation. Later I realized this is because the entire area was slowly settling over the years. The original dirt line on the foundation was about 6" higher than the dirt when I started this work. Why was it settling? Two reasons. First is that the hose connection is right there, so it drips and stuff stays wet, so things tend to settle. The other is that all of the joints in the original white pipe were never glued, or at least never glues with normal PVC cement. The result was that all of the joints had slow leaks, so this whole area was 1) always damp and 2) well fertilized. No wonder it always grew a lot of moss and great grass, even though it was mostly in the shade. Anyways, I replaced the cracked fitting in the black ABS line in the crawlspace along with a few inches of black ABS line in each direction, as well as disassembling and re-doing the white buried drain line with correct PVC cement and new elbow fittings (the originals were incredibly cheap pieces) later. It was tedious and a bit smelly, but not really that hard. After a few hours work it was back together and not leaking. I left it uncovered for a day to test things, and it was fine, so I re-buried the line and used some hydraulic cement to patch the hole in the foundation, which incidentally, the original builders had not done. :-/

I also found out that the white PVC line to the septic tank is schedule 30 line - which is really thin stuff. The black ABS line is schedule 40 - much thicker and in my opinion, more trustworthy. If the tank settles, the white PVC schedule 30 line is going to snap like a twig. The black ABS line can take more pressure and deal with more problems before having issues. Without pulling the white line out of the side of the tank, it would have been impossible to change it all to black ABS pipe, so I left it alone and pretty much did what the original builders did - used a 3" schedule 40 to 4" schedule 30 adaptor to go between the white and black pipes up near the house. Not ideal, but at least this time it's all glued together and thus much better than the original setup. Plus, the rubber "no hub" couplers will allow some flex in the lines to account for the pre-existing degree of misalignment and any minimal future settling that might occur.

A few pictures of the lines in the crawlspace before I got started. They're from my cell phone camera, so no flash, and they are somewhat blurry, but they get the important stuff captured if you look real close.

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The initial digging on the outside line to find a place to splice in for the repair.

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The old hornets nest I found in the crawlspace - right above where I needed to work. Thank goodness they were long dead courtesy of my exterminator. They used to be Wham! pest control, but they changed names to something more generic. Same great folks, boring new name. :-)

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The final line in the crawlspace with the cracked fitting replaced and the no hub coupler in place on the 3" line. The smaller 2" line ended up using a regular glued on union - there was enough play in the lines to allow that to fit together.

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Here's the outside line as I originally found it. None of the white fittings were glued - oops.

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The outside after patching and filling. I apparently neglected to take any pictures of the line after I glued it back up and before I buried it. Oh well. These were taken before I acquired a load of dirt to fill in the area and bring things back up to something resembling the "original" ground height before all of the settling. Note the still-drying hydraulic cement patchwork around the pipe and the just visible no-hub coupler just outside the foundation.

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This is the outside area after clearing away my stash of car parts for various restoration projects and relocating the small shed to the gravel side driveway.

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The load of topsoil (about a yard) I acquired using a friend's utility trailer. That was fun to get backed in and around the corner...

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The area after filling and leveling - much better! Now I just need to grow some grass...

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The area where the small shed used to be, and where the parts were consolidated to. Yeah, I have a lot of restoration projects in the pipeline, so I have a lot of spare parts stored to prepare for them. I'm a gear head, it's what I do to relax. :-) The key is not trashing the front of your house. The neighbors tend to get unhappy about that.

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The gravel driveway/side yard with the small shed clearly visible, with some more parts tucked away against the fence and the trailer stored next to them.

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Comments? Kudos? Got some parts you'd like to buy/sell/barter/swap? Nasty comments about my web page so far? You can email Mike or Debbie.

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Page last updated 07/30/2010 06:55:45 PM