Hello there septic system owners. This blog post is about trees and what they do to your septic system. But in this case it’s just the septic tank that stopped working. They can do all sorts of damage.
This client has been warned for many years. 10 years ago roots had started infiltrating the seams of the septic tank. At that time the client was told it would be a good idea to cut the trees down by the septic tank. But client saw “Root Kill” for septic systems.
So here’s a little education on septic systems and root kill additives. Root kill additives are meant to be put directly into the drainfield. Flushing them down the toilet, into the septic tank doesn’t do any good. None of the additive will reach the drainfield. It’s even on the package to add it directly to the drainfield. And it does work when applied to the inlet line going to the drainfield, from the septic tank.
So for over the next 10 years this client added Root Kill into her septic system by flushing them down the toilet. The roots continued to grow without the client knowing. Until one day the system stopped working. Below we tried to break up the roots a little bit with tool called the crustbuster. Of course it didn’t work, but I was willing to try anything to not have to go inside this septic tank. But it did mix up the sludge on the floor so the vacuum truck to suck it out, and I wasn’t wading up to my knees in sewage.
Now the client wasn’t backing up just yet. But was selling their house. During a real estate inspection for the buyer, we removed the lids and saw the root damage. The buyer could see that these roots couldn’t possible be good for the septic system, and could see that the roots have stopped the whole tank from working as it should. Buyer decided that he wasn’t going to purchase the home until the problem was fixed. Now here’s a little lesson on Real Estate Transactions. Once a problem has been discovered about anything, the seller and the Realtor must disclose this condition to anyone trying to buy the home. So needless to say, most people would not buy a home with a septic system in this condition.
So now comes time for the repair. We had to take a shovel and chop a hole through the roots to get a hose to the bottom of the tank. The pumper sucked out the best it could and then it’s time for “Confined Space Entry”.
We have the canopy set up as it’s raining pretty bad. We have a tripod set up. This is what lowers me into the septic tank and pulls me out. I wear a harness that connects to that tripod. I have blowers pushing fresh air down to me, and I wear an air monitor that monitors the air I am breathing. Anything goes wrong the guy manning the tripod would crank me out of the hole.
Once lowered in you can see the damage it created.
I was down there for two hours. Cutting roots with shovels and pretty much wrecking my sawsall. But they needed to come out.
About half way during this procedure I did need a break. This job is the worst root job I have had to this date. I spent over 2 hours down there, and it was exhausting. I can feel it in my body now about 18 hours since this job happened. I am sure to be sore.
So when your septic technician let’s you know that you should remove plants/trees/shrubs, he/she is trying to save you money. Because even though this is a “Job”, or maybe even “Job Protection”, it’s one that none of us want to do. We are also trying to save you money. This expense. This tree root removal job cost the client about $1,600.00 and could have been avoided by simply removing the trees. And make no mistake about it, if they don’t remove these two trees, we’ll be back. Because the trees know that there’s free water right there and fertilizer.
Most important is that this is a job none of us want to do. It’s really gross to be wading around sewage with creepy crawly worms and stuff, spiders, and everything else you can image. I for one came out a different man then when I went in. I may need therapy to help me forget this job. It was a nightmare.