Our home, over 40 years old, likely retains its original septic tank. Situated in a densely wooded area with few neighbors, we've maintained the property well. Recently, within the last year, we had the tank pumped, finding no issues or anomalies.

However, a recurring sewer odor near the road has caught our attention. Our property extends across the road, a path established long ago by the county. Upon inspection, I observed an area of dense overgrowth with vibrant vegetation. Investigating further, I noticed a slow trickle of water resembling a spring flowing downhill and between several boulders. Unfortunately, it's not the picturesque spring one would hope for. (Humorously, the water appears clear despite its origin.)

It appears this water marks the endpoint of the septic system's leach line, expelling excess black water. Now, this surplus water cascades downhill, vanishing into the woods below.

Moving forward, I seek guidance on resolving this issue.

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1 Answer 1


Your leach feild isn't doing its job (and the end of the pipe should not be open if it's a leach field pipe. Those are supposed to be level and capped, at least per my approved plans.) There should never be excess leachate in a properly functioning system.

Consult your septic plans and start constructing the replacement leach field in the area set aside for that (typically on the original plans.) Or consult an approved septic designer/engineer (depending on local regulations - your local health department may be the place to confirm what sort of professional you'll need for their approval) to design a replacement if one was not on the original plans. They (or some other government department in the building /planning line) may also have a copy of the original plans in their files from the time of construction, if you don't have those.

It's also possible that what you actually have is a drainage pipe that has become cross-connected to the septic by a failure of some sort. It would be highly unusual for a leach field line to cross a road.

  • We definitely don't have the plans for the home or septic layout since it's 40+ years old. From my understanding, the original owner made a deal with the county to cut the road in after the house was built. So that might explain why it goes under the road. Would there be any way to test to see where the pipe goes? If it is connected to the septic the tank is about 145 feet away from where I uncovered this end. Would there be an option to pour gravel over it and re-bury the pipe? Obviously, I don't want to have to buy a new system, if I don't have too. Commented Apr 11 at 13:02
  • A well-equipped plumber or an underground services locater can put a trace wire in the pipe and locate it with a detector. A sewer camera might also reveal things. You might be able to rent that sort of thing from the local tool rental, as well. Should not be a whole new system, might be a whole new leach field. There are also techniques to attempt to remediate a leach field (no, not Rid-X - universally panned by health departments) which might work depending on the failure mode. At 40 years at least you should not have Orangeburg pipe.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 11 at 13:22

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