Monday, November 14, 2011

The Case of the Hidden Septic Tank

So, one enterprising morning I toiled away in the backyard rototilling a section of grass which died over the summer. We purchased a "manual" rototiller for our garden (aka small spaces), and this space looked about 6'x13'. While toiling away, I heard a strange knocking sound... Strange indeed. Throwing caution into the wind, I grabbed my shovel to find whatever treasures lie beneath.

Eventually, I uncovered a 6'x13' concrete slab. With more poking, I chipped a small hole... A hole big enough to reveal a cavern below going down about 6', and mostly full of water. Cool! A hidden in-door swimming pool... Or maybe a dungeon for my next D&D adventure... Or, an old septic tank not properly abandoned... After a few phone calls to the city and a visit by some who actually knows what they're looking at, it turned out to be a old septic tank.

Great. Now what?

The proper protocol for abandoning a septic tanks involves a few steps.
  1. Pump out the raw sewage. Thankfully already done, the only water in the tank came from rain.
  2. Poke a couple holes in the bottom of the tank to let future rain water seep into the ground.
  3. Collapse the lid into the tank. See the video below for the fun.
  4. Fill the tank in. Oregon requires either sand or pea gravel... at $29 yard.
  5. Add new top soil and re-seed.

We're on step 4. I put an ad on Craigslist hoping someone bought too much of either sand or pea gravel. So, next weekend Jessi and I get to move about 14 yards of soil. According to WeatherSpark there should only be off and on rain. The good news? We get to buy a new toys: a wheelbarrow and flat point shovel.


  1. New 2011 EPA mandates say that even a slow drain in your leach field or elevated Nitrate levels could require replacement of your entire system for $10,000 to $80,000 or connect to the city sewer.

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  2. jamesfurlo1:11 PM

    Thanks for the comment. We are already on the city sewer system (it was done in 1979 according to city records). This was, apparently, how they abandoned the old septic tank. So we have the pleasure of finishing the job for them.