HI follks,

I have a client with a property that had a brand new, permitted septic field installed in 1999. The lines are adequate for the size of the home, number of people, baths, etc. That all looked great on the permit. The problem is that the idiotic permit department allowed the existing septic tank from who knows what decade, to remain! It was recently pumped out, and the contractor confirmed the tank was 1) made of brick; 2) does not have any baffles; 3) is essentially a cesspool tank that got connected to a septic line. The home is a two story commercial building in a small town, thus the ridiculous brick tank from the '30s probably, and the nuts at the local health department who issue permits like this. "Things was different in 1999 with the code . . ." Oh boy, c'mon, lie better than that! They should be sued for issuing a permit for new lines on top of the old cesspool type tank, as far as I'm concerned.

The pipe leading from the brick tank out to the distribution boxes is approx. 200' long because the field had to be located out in the back of the property on a gently sloping terrain (which should be helping with proper action).

My knowledge of building science has me to believe that it is absolutely incredible that the client has not experienced a complete failure of the system, backing up into the house, pooling of leach field, etc. due to the unavoidable admission of solid waste directly into the lines. So much for solids collecting in the tank and getting eaten by anaerobic bacteria and the rest settling. They must surely be traveling directly out into the lines. Over 15 years, the property has been used this way with various owners, one of whom ran a pool hall/restaurant type place - uh oh, grease city in the lines?

My question is this. Shy of relocating a new leach field onto the remaining 1/2 acre available, and spending easily 10k - 15K on this, is there a way to "reclaim" the lines and field by inactivity? The plumbing has an old supply line, but new plastic drains, so the water pressure is very low, perhaps 1 gal per minute tops. So it appears to drain nicely, and hey, there is not backup presently. I'm advising that when the plumbing is updated with a proper supply line and the discharge goes up to 3 gal per minute when running two fixtures, the lines will talk. They are acting like a clogged galvanized line with partial blockage, I'm thinking, allowing the small drainoff to work. My x-ray vision suggests the lines are sludged up inside, perhaps "hardpack" soil in the lines, etc.

Is there any way to suggest turning off the plumbing for six months and letting rain wash out the lines, field, etc. and then replace the septic tank with the proper modern, plastic box and be okay? Chemicals promise things, and hydro-jet pressure, etc. which I am not familiar with. No baffles is ridiculous for 15 years! I still cannot imagine why it is not blocking up back into the house....

Help??? Advice??? Methods for reclamation? Replacement inevitable?