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I recently had my 1500 gallon septic tank fill up/back up.

When the contractor removed the lid, it was obvious that the tank was completely full and needed to be pumped. The contractor then said that the distribution box was also full and that I should add "Oxidizer Plus" in order to clean out my distribution box and drain field.

He stated that without this chemical, the drain field would be in jeopardy.

We caught the problem before it backed up into the house and caused damage, so it was truly just a tank pumping..etc.

Is the contractor's advice consistent with current practices re: septic systems?

I was in a bind, and feel that the entire service was rather expensive.

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Questions about pricing are very difficult to answer as it varies from location to location –  Steven Sep 21 '12 at 14:00
    
Rooter plus? lightningrodder.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-12820.html –  UNECS Sep 21 '12 at 21:08
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Tanks are supposed to be full, but not full above the top of the outlet opening. Was there any large backflow from the outlet pipe as the tank was pumped below the outlet opening? No backflow= no problem with leach system. Same test for D-boxes –  shirlock homes Sep 21 '12 at 22:08
    
I have the same situation with a septic guy claiming a miracle chemical will save me from thousands of dollars of repairs to my leech field. However, despite the fact that my tank was WAYYYY overdue for a pumping and completely full, I have seen zero symptoms typically associated with a clogged field. Wondering if he is scamming me. –  JohnFx Feb 17 at 23:47
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2 Answers

Septic tanks are there to catch and digest solids through bacterial action and should never be allowed to fill with solids until they get pushed out into the drain field. The drain field is there to absorb the black-water outflow from the septic tank.

  • Tank full of fluid up to outlet - ok.
  • Tank full of muck and flowing through outlet into drainfield, you've waited too long to pump.
  • Fluid backed up into inlet, you're looking at a clogged drain field and no amount of pumping will cure what ails ya. (unless it's the rainy season, the ground's saturated and it's only fluid filling the tank, not the other stuff, Yay Oregon and a badly situated drain field!)

The soil aready contains the bacteria necessary to decompose drainfield effluent, the problem is that septic tank solids remains essentially silt in the pores in the soil and bacterial biofilm seal off what remains left for fluid flow. In a clogged drainfield, more bacteria probably aren't going to help and there's little or no flow to carry what you're flushing down there, so the problem isn't going to resolve itself soon.

Pumping of septic tanks to remove the muck is not a last resort, but a periodic maintenance to keep the septic system healthy.

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If your tank and box are completely filled, your drain field is plugged up and no longer draining properly. It is not in jeopardy, it is done. While it could have been worse, it is still bad. Unless this was caused by a temporary overloading condition, or the main line was simply blocked at one point, you probably will need to build a replacement field soon, if not now. It's conceivable, that giving the field a good long rest with little or no waste load, that some sort of product that accelerates waste breakdown could help temporarily get the field partly working.

But if the field isn't draining, the product will not get to where it's needed. Some of these products are snake oil and do nothing. Others will help accelerate breakdown, but given enough time, breakdown will occur naturally, special products are not needed, but may be helpful. Every guy with a pumper truck sells something like this because it's easy money.

If your field is partly draining, and this Oxidizer Plus (many similar products around, btw, shop around) stuff really is actually beneficial, it may be worth a try, as the real solution is very expensive. It will be important to drastically reduce waste loading once a product is distributed to let it breakdown the obstructions with out adding on more work.

The same results can be achieved with no product at all, but it may take longer. If you do get the field draining, it will still be in a very fragile state. It could be easily overloaded again with even modest inflows. You should also determine why the field became obstructed in the first place. A properly sized, constructed, and maintained system should last indefinitely.

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As bcworkz said if the system was completely blocked the product would do nothing and if it wasn't the product is unessacsry and extremely overpriced for a oxidizing agent, also it should have been a simple task for the plumber to check the amount of blockage if he dug down to apply the oxidizing agent. –  UNECS Sep 22 '12 at 2:21
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