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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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Plumbing Issues

Hello all,

My camp is having some plumbing issues. I'm hoping you can help with. We bought an old grange hall that had a men's and a women's bathroom in it. The women's room had a toilet in it but it was just sitting there. It wasn't hooked up at all. We converted the men's room into a shower room and installed a new toilet that someone one gave us in the women's room.

Now the problem we are having. After a day or two of guys being down there the toilet is slow to flush and by the time we leave it won't flush at all. The shower doesn't back up and the sink doesn't either. But we see water near where we suspect the holding tank to be. There is a random PVC Pipe sticking out of a hole there also but as far as we can tell we can't see what it does.

Does anyone have any idea why the toilet would be giving us fits like this? We just bought the camp in September so we haven't had a ton of time to work on the septic system. Also we know the ground water is very high with all the rain, but it did this to us during deer season also.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

Mike
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:00 PM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

Sounds like you may have an issue with the holding tank or septic system. The tank maybe full and when you begin using it alot the water has no place to go but out the top of the tank. That explains the water you see near the suspected tank lid. Is the tank buried? Does the toilet just run into the tank or do all fixtures empty into it?
I suggest getting it pumped first of all. Then you can tell how the water is flowing into the tank. It may be a broken/clogged pipe somewhere as well but you will not be able to tell until the tank is empty. I wuold start by getting the tank pumped out.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:01 PM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

my guess is a glogged leech field or perhaps the pipe from the septic tank to the leech field is plugged or broker. that could be where the water is coming from. sounds like when the septic tank gets full and it should be "sipping" out into the leech field it has nowhere to go. open 'er up and get it pumped and see what you're dealing with. toilet flush is a large shot of water all at once whereas the sink, shower is slower. thats why it seems worse for the crapper.

i did this a few years ago at my camp. lot of labor but not real complicated once you see what you're dealing with.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:07 PM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

the random pvc pipe could be some kind of vent or a place to enter the system to snake it.

like others said your gonna have to go to the end and see whats happening there

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 12:07 AM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

Quote:
We bought an old grange hall that had a men's and a women's bathroom in it.
Entirely possible that the place only has a cesspool and not an actual septic system, with tank and leach field?

If the PVC pipe has anything to do with it, probably means someone tried to "improve" at some point, by adding a clean out pipe? Lots of possibilities with old places out in the country.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 12:42 AM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

If the tank is full (with sludge) and does not get drained, sludge will eventually flow down onto the pipe leading to the leech field and block drainage. When the system hasn't run in a while, the water in the leech field pipe will slowly seep through the partially plugged drainage holes. So, when you first get there the commode flushes well because there is room for the water in the empty pipe but more and more flushes fill the pipe faster than it can drain into the leech field, creating the slow flushes you are experiencing as time goes on. If you pump the tank, it will temporarily resolve ths issue, until you fill the tank back up with flushed water and grey water from the shower and sink. You might have to dig up and replace the pipe going to the leech field. When you hear someone say "I haven't had that pumped in 20 years", that is the approach that leads to this kind of problem.

As others have said, get the tank pumped first and foremost. You can then hire a septic cleaner or plumber with a camera designed to look inside pipes (I refer to that as "poop cam") and he'll be able to give you an idea of what is going on. If you dont want to spend that kind of money, you could just dig it up and replace it-that is not expensive or complicated but it is labor intensive. Start by having the tank pumped and maybe snaking the slow commode. Then look at the pipe leading to the leech field. I agree with the guy that therorized that the random PVC pipes are probably there to allow easy access to possible clogs and/or cleaning. I have a pipe like this on both my setups (home and camp).

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 08:55 AM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

Do yo know if the toilet, shower and sink share the same building sewer? If so, and the sink & shower aren't backing up, you may not have proper venting of the sewer line. There should be at least a 2 or 3-inch vent pipe to allow air into the sewer line. If not, the flow of water from the toilet could create a vacuum of sorts and restrict the flow of heavy water/solid loads from a toilet.

If the septic field was plugged, I would expect to have the sink & shower drains backup as well -if they all go the septic tank / drain field. (more than likely, particularly if its a older system, the grey water and black water went separate ways.)

The random PVC pipe you mention sounds like a cleanout. Don't use this pipe to empty the tank though, uncover the lid of the tank and have it pumped out that way. (Those cleanout pipes were typically installed to clean the inlet on the tank from soap build up where the pipe enters the tank. Pumping the tank out of this pipe will not remove most of the accumulated solids that settle at the bottom of the tank. )

Once the tank is emptied, observe if there is any ground water re-entering the tank from the drainfield. If there is, you have problems! -- no place for the sewage to go.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 10:06 AM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

from your description of the mens room being used and the womens room not, and you put the commode in the womens room, i would suspect that it had problems before as noted above. i would also suspect that the two bathrooms may have different septic systems. as stated above, the "old school" way of doing things was to have the grey water (sinks, showers, washers) go into a drain field directly and not have a tank. also the "old school" way of doing a crapper was to just have a pit for the toilets that may or may not have a drain field. as noted above, open it all up and see what is what. not a hard fix, just labor intensive. however, depending on local codes, you could have issues doing it legally. seeing as its a camp, if its in a remote area, i would do a little "midnight plumbing" and fix it right. if you have nosey neighbors who want to cause you problems though, you need to be careful. all these regulations requiring sandmounds and such are overkill for most camps. a good old fashioned septic tank with a good drain field, located a good distance from your well head is plenty sufficient for most camps. but getting a repair permit could really open a can of worms. but as stated above, you gotta open it up and see what you're dealing with first.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 10:16 AM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

Could be a collapsed pipe.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 02:12 PM
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Re: Plumbing Issues

We have a very old system in michigan we actually had tree roots grow into the pipe leading to the tank.

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