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Question DetailsAsked on 1/29/2017

I have a study Trickle coming from the inlet pipe into the septic holding tank and don't know where it's coming fro

We just got a new septic holding tank put in in the last time it was pump they noticed a steady trickle coming from the inlet pipe into the holding tank. I've tried shutting off water valves and can't figure out where it is coming from. The toilet doesn't leak none of the faucet leak and I am stumped

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2 Answers


Here are a couple of previous similar questions with about as complete an answer as you could ask for -

You would expect a trickle for a minute or two if the incoming pipe was relatively flat - draining out say 10-20 feet of run from the house to the tank, but if continuously running in during the entire pumpout (so 30-60 minutes say) then likely a constantly running water source dumping into the drain lines (sump pump, backflush from water softener or filtration system, water to some trap which needs a trickle feed to keep it from going dry, running toilet, dehumidifier or A/C condensate drain, etc), or leakage from groundwater or wet lawn or pooled-up leaked-out tank effluent due to a broken sewer pipe or broken/loose connection to the tank (if coming in around the outside of the pipe, at the seal lwith the tank) or cracked tank. If leach field is backing up or tank was overfilled so it leaked at access hatch(s), can also be a pooling of leachate around the tank, then leaking back in at the inlet pipe as the level in the tank was drawn down.

One thing - you say no toilet is running - you can commonly get up to as much as a gallon or so per minute leaking from a toilet without visible disturbance in the bowl or a "running toilet" sound, so double check by putting food coloring into the tank and see if it shows up in any noticeable quantity in the bowl - for each toilet.

On the house water source thing, if running out of the inside of the pipe rather than saround it, you can turn off the main water supply to the house - and to be sure it is actually shutting the water totally off, drain water off at a low drain point (like with a hose connected to a drain valve, and obviously dumping nowhere near to the septic tank) to be sure there is no water getting into the house, because commonly main shutoffs do not truly shut off completely because the seals go bad sitting there unused for decades on end.

Normal way to check it out - dig down to the inlet pipe at the tank and check seal by running a hose outside the tank there and see if it flows into tank as it pools up, and also during digging it will be real obvious by smell and the grayish-black gunk if the tank has been backflowing around the pipe or from a leak, versus from groundwater or rain/sprinkling water. Could also be pooling around the tank and maybe foundation from backup or saturation of the leach field - so the leachate is raising the groundwater level around the leach field and tank with the escaping water which should be infiltrating down into the ground from the leach field. This is real common for fields that have reached their functional life or at least need jetting to extend their life. To tie down which for certain (if it is sewage), you then have to dig back along the pipe and maybe around the tank and at the "near side" of the leach field to see if coming from the tank or from a pipe leak o from leach field saturation, then fix the situation and test again. Commonly when dug out, the inlet pipe is tested by plugging the inlet to the tank with a rubber plug, then running water in the house (being sure to not back up into the lowest level drain) and see where water appears and accumulates in the ditch to locate the leak.

Of course, if running out from the inside the pipe rather than at the seal with the tank, you can also have a sewer camera run (typically $150 ballpark) to look for sewer line damage or an infiltration point - though a leaking fitting will not necessarily show up on a camera run, especially if it is due to a displaced or missing gasket on gasketed pipe systems, or broken out piece of leading on a leaded cast/ductile iron drain. And if you see infiltration, unless the tank is empty (or much lower fluid level) at the time or the pipe infiltration point is above the tank's highest possible fluid level, without checking the inflow to see if fresh or sewer water (and might be a mixture from both inflow and outflow at different times) you would not know the source of the water.

Dig down some distance (say 5-10 feet) away from the tank but similar distance from house and see if you hit water at same depth as tank inlet (or shallower) - and if it smells/looks like sewage sludge or fresh. That can identify the source of the water - though obviously a broken sewer pipe or connection to tank would still be the reason it was draining into the tank.

Contractor type - a sewer and drain contractor, some septic system contractors also do this type of investigation and repair, though a lot of that Search the List category only do pumping and simple tank repairs.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


This is Erick in Member Care. Thanks for your interest in Angie's List!

We'll be happy to help find top rated Plumbing providers that can find and fix your leak, but it doesn't look like you have a subscription to the List yet. You can join by visiting or by giving us a call. Our call center is available 8:00 am-9:00 pm weekdays and 8:00-5:00 pm ET on Saturdays.

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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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