Septic tank backup

My second load of laundry found water backup in my bathtub. Also toilet would not flush. Plumber came and run the snake in the runoff and found he was hitting tree roots from a Bradford pear between the house and the septic tank. Was able to get the water flowing today but was told the lines might need to be replaced to the septic tank. House was built in the 70's so I could understand this. This would mean digging up landscaped area and sidewalk. Is the tree worth it? Would I still have problems if the tree was cut down. We love where we live and hope to be here for a while, but this old house has turned into a money pit.
septic tank backup, home maintenance repairs, plumbing
  11 answers
  • Unfortunately septic tanks and the lines sometimes need replaced and if it has been in place for 40 yrs that is a long time. If they can put in new lines from your house to the tank, then they should not have to dig up everything because they will trench the lines (I would think). Bradford Pears are a beautiful tree but not worth it. They are a soft wooded tree and usually are prone to damage from storms and diseases. Since trees reach for water and septic lines can leach water any tree you plant too close to the fields or lines will cause the roots in the pipes. However... I also want to ask if you use a lot of bleach or other chemicals in your daily wash. Bleach kills septic tanks! You should only be using septic safe chemicals and toiletries and never flush unmentionables. If the bacteria is destroyed the septic tank will also not work. years ago when we had to install a new septic tank, the old timer said RidX is a joke and yeast does not work because yeast needs warm environment and oxygen to do anything. I wish I could remember what he used but it was something most septic guys know. How long have you lived there and has the septic ever been pumped out? I have lived in the country with septic systems and always seemed to have to pay to have it pumped because the previous people had flushed unmentionables, used bleach and even flushed motor oil! I had a mess so that is why I asked.
    • See 3 previous
    • @Ashley Elizabeth In our state many homes being built with septics have raised leach fields as well. With the over building the water table has rose making many perk tests fail. Not only that the additional raise in the water table has caused the materials in the ground to loose their ability to perk. Its a shame as septic systems cost $50,000 and up as a result.
  • If the pipes leading to the tank have filled with roots, you need to replace them, Properly done the person that does the digging should be able to use a small bucket and machine and minimize the amount of damage to the ground. Septic pipes are not normally that deep as you would find with systems that are connected to a township system. Checking the pipe leaving the house will give you some indication on just how far down they will need to go. With any septic system you need to keep a clean path to it and around the tank and leach field. So you need to determine what else may be encroaching the system as a whole and deal with those plantings as well when your doing your fix.
  • Gretchen Gretchen on Feb 20, 2014
    You can get rid of that Bradford Pear and you won't be missing too much! They die young, they crack and fall in windy storms, and evidently it is in the wrong spot for your pipes! Take it down and fix the pipes. You might also ask the arborist and the plumber what other trees might cause future problems so they can be taken down at the same time.
  • Julie Johnson Julie Johnson on Feb 20, 2014
    As a certified arborist, the Bradford pear is not worth saving. They are weak-wooded and highly susceptible to wind damage; a tree can fall apart even without wind due to it's poor branch structure. In some parts of the country, the pear tree (all cultivars) has become invasive, another strike against it.
  • Anne Anne on Feb 20, 2014
    There are some trees that you cannot plant near your septic systems because of there very long roots underground will grow Into your septic can always get another pear tree, but make sure it is far away from your septic area... Good Luck!!!
  • Betty Carnes Betty Carnes on Feb 21, 2014
    Thanks for the comments. Seems I will be taking down a couple of trees and do some repairs on the line. Just not what I had wanted to spend money on this year.
  • Steve Brown Steve Brown on Feb 21, 2014
    It cost me $125 every two yrs to have the line snaked compared to $4,000 to repair my line- - figure thats easier and way cheaper.
  • Lateral Concepts, LLC Lateral Concepts, LLC on Mar 29, 2014
    Typically the line from the house to the septic tank is fairly short (about 10'), and fairly shallow. I would suggest having the line video inspected and located so you know exactly what's going on, where it runs, and how deep it is. The line from the house to the tank however, is a small portion of your onsite wastewater system. There are other components that all need to work together for a properly functioning system, i.e. tank and drainfield. Perhaps your scenario is different in that you have a longer run from the house to the tank, in which "bursting" or "lining" (trenchless methods) could be utilized to minimize the intrusion on the landscape. A properly maintained septic system should not need any added chemicals or additives.
  • Conni Conni on Jan 21, 2016
    Had a similar problem years ago in a house about the same age as yours. I think we ended up pumping out the septic tank and moving drain field to other side of the yard.
    • Betty Carnes Betty Carnes on Jan 21, 2016
      Ours turned out to be a damaged line. We live on a lake so we are required by county to have our septic tank pumped out every three years. In doing this the last time somehow our line got cracked or damaged. Over time this spot was catching everything and causing a problem. We ended up replacing the line from the house to the pump out area. Hopefully this problem is solved. Thank you.
  • Fran McCarty Fran McCarty on Jan 22, 2016
    How long has it been since the septic tank was pumped? Our septic man recommends every 5 years.
    • Betty Carnes Betty Carnes on Jan 22, 2016
      We're required to have it pumped out every three years, we have not had any problems since replacing the line.
  • Sammy Burke Sammy Burke on Jul 11, 2016
    I remember having to do a lot of digging on my aunt's backyard. All because of how someone told her that she would need to replace the lines of septic tank. The work itself was quite tough because there was a lot of digging that my son and I had to do.
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