I had a backed up sewer drain, and had to have it cleared. I also had it scoped and was told it was broken.

I have dug a 4'x4'x4' hole to get to it - and found out it was completely shattered. I am working on replacing that now.

My other issue is that I have a huge pile of pretty nasty dirt next to the hole. Surely this cannot be reused, so what do I do with it? I am also assuming it can't be treated and left out or just tossed.

I have not been able to find an answer online, so I thought I would try here. Any advice?

  • what's the problem with the dirt? What's your specific concern?
    – Edwin
    Jul 24, 2014 at 18:23
  • @Edwin The concern of sanitation, maybe even health-code. It was a broken waste pipe, so things around it just sat sometimes. It smells funky too - doesn't look like I tipped a porta-potty over, but still seems like it is nasty.
    – BriGuy
    Jul 24, 2014 at 21:24
  • I'm not an expert. But if it's all organic, I would just use it as is. It's not like your yard is an EPA supersite or anything. Septic systems drain waste into the yard through a drain field as part of their regular operation, and when they backup, no one sends in a hazmat team. Inside a couple months, microorganisms will eat all the bad stuff.
    – Edwin
    Jul 24, 2014 at 21:36

1 Answer 1


EPA discussion of waste treatment with lime One common sanitizer for sewage is lime. A farm supply would have it. You must layer the dirt and the lime, a 1:10 ratio (1 inch of lime to 10" of dirt)

Care must be used against touching or breathing the lime directly. Hydrating and mixing each layer (or lift) will ensure the dispersal and neutralizing the bacteria (and smell).

Historically used in pit toilets and at disaster scenes for mass burials.

  • I would be worried that the lime would throw the pH of the soil way off and prevent anything from growing in that area.
    – Edwin
    Jul 24, 2014 at 21:36
  • The pH only needs to be high(12) for a day, to realize sterilization. Re-amendment can be done to the surface, if necessary, after a few weeks. Its likely to return to near normal (6 to 8) by itself. A pH test kit is fairly inexpensive, as is ammonium sulfate, used to lower pH
    – HerrBag
    Jul 25, 2014 at 13:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.