May 22, 2010

Expect The Unexpected

In my last "Around The Homestead" post, I mentioned that we finally found our septic tank, which was one of our 2010 goals. I also mentioned that we were having problems with wet soil in the area. We had it pumped out, and Dan asked that the tank lid be left partially uncovered so he could monitor for water that wasn't draining. Earlier this week, it looked like this...

It looks like a deep hole of murky water, but actually it's less than an inch of water covering the concrete cover of septic tank. It meant that excess water wasn't flowing into the drain field. If you're unfamiliar with septic systems and how they work, there is an explanation with diagrams at HowStuffWorks.

The probable cause of our problem? Roots growing into the buried pipes. Several big clumps of roots were pulled out when the tank was pumped, but because of the huge wild rose bushes growing there, Dan figured there might be more. The solution?

Rent one of these babies and pull out those bushes.

You can see the water has dissipated after pulling those bushes out by the roots.

What we discovered however, was rather shocking. We found that there is no outlet pipe from the tank to the drain field. In fact we could find no pipes to make up a drain field at all.

We have someone coming out next week to correct the problem. Still, it makes us wonder how the previous owners with a household of five folks lived here with this system. I reckon we'll never know the answer to that.

To see the new drainfield, click here.

Expect The Unexpected text & photos copyright 


  1. Doesn't some of the stuff that is discovered while exploring your land make a person go hmmmm. I know we have found a couple of things that left us stratching our head.

  2. Amazing that it worked as well as it did without access to a leach field. I remember we had extra drainage laid to allow for additional people living in the house. Good luck!

  3. Wow..Ain't it grand to find something like that. Makes me wonder if the folks that paid for a system did it themselves or were just ripped off. Hopefully you won't run into any other hidden "projects".

  4. Oh no! Leigh, what an awful unexpected discovery.
    Fingers crossed that it will be a straightforward repair.

  5. Fingers crossed that there's a drainage field out there somewhere and not just a tank. Ugh! So sorry, what a nuisance.

  6. Amanda, it's really something, isn't it? I don't think we've stopped scratching our heads since we bought the place. :)

    Callie, I know that there are different ways to design these systems, but this is strange. Maybe we missed it somehow (???) and the septic service will find it for us!

    Woody, we wondered that too. The house is over 80 years old, and we also wonder when the system was put it. The tank is small, but maybe that was just the way things were done back then. Who knows!

    Theresa, it wasn't a discovery we were happy to find! But oh well, what are ya gonna do?

    Thanks Maggie! I certainly hope you're right!

  7. ouch, I hope it's not one of those discoveries with a new home that cost an arm and a leg to repair:(( I know septic tanks are a constant problem over here...

  8. Sounds like a good thing to get taken care of during "nice" weather. It's amazing you haven't had some real trouble with the wonky system!

    In our county, the seller has to have his septic system inspected (and brought up to snuff) before he can sell. Probably not a bad idea in most instances.

  9. Yikes! Nothing is worse than a septic system that's not working correctly :-(
    You have my complete sympathy - Hope the fix doesn't "drain" the bank account! T.

    P.S. I think that Alvin (the fairy) got lonely and moved on to a new home after my sister and I went to college -

  10. Spetic systems aren't they fun??

    At our last home it was a steal tank set next to a small stream. I'm sure if it were put in today it would not be there.

  11. I sure hope that's the last of the surprises you find!

  12. Bettina, I admit that there are other things we'd prefer to spend the money on :( At least we have it thanks to our tax refund.

    Mama Pea I wish it was that way here. Here, the seller can just put "don't know" on anything and everything on the disclosure form so basically everyone is purchasing "as is."

    Tina, hopefully Alvin found two more little girls to appreciate him :)

    Barb, I believe you're right, that wouldn't fly today. We're amazed they put the swimming pool in so close to it. Maybe that's why they ended up filling the pool in eventually.

    Renee, you and me both!

  13. I think the good thing is that system didn't crash during the wet winter. A second good thing is that you're married to a tractor-driving man. The third good thing hasn't come to me yet.

  14. DOH! What an unpleasant surprise.


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