septic system

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mtngun
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septic system

Postby mtngun » Tue May 19, 2009 7:09 pm

I debated the pros and cons of a septic system. A septic system would be nice, but they cost big bucks and must be pumped every few years.

Pit toilets have to be re-dug every couple of years, a difficult job in our hardpan clay. I am getting tired of re-digging the pit toilet.

I like the idea of a composting toilet, but that would require a fair amount of time and money to construct, and an outdoor composting toilet doesn't compost in the winter (which is 9 months out of the year). In addition, a composting toilet has to be elevated above the compost bins, so the toilet would require a little stairway. The stairway would have to be cleared of snow every day in the winter (9 months out of the year).

The septic system won the debate..

A neighbor offered the loan of his backhoe, saving me big bucks, because it costs a fortune to bring an excavation contractor up here.

The tank.
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Even though my water usage is extremely limited, about 5 - 10 gallons per day, the local sewer god insisted that my septic system be designed to handle 200 gallons a day. I tried explaining how I must practice extreme water conservation since I don't have a well, but rules are rules. The overdesigned field should last forever.

Halfway done with the trenches. The septic field is on a hillside, so I tried to follow the contour of the hill. Easier said than done.
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mtngun
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Re: septic system

Postby mtngun » Wed May 20, 2009 6:53 pm

This morning the loaner backhoe died. By the time I discovered the clogged fuel filter, made a trip to town to buy a replacement, and reprimed the fuel system, it was 2pm. I spend more time fixing this backhoe than digging with it. But that's OK, it gets the job done, and that's what counts.

The roughed-out trenches, with emphasis on "rough." I've never run a backhoe before, and it shows. Tomorrow I get to smooth and level the trenches with a shovel and a rake.

All this to handle 5 - 10 gallons a day. :?
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mtngun
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Re: septic system

Postby mtngun » Fri May 22, 2009 7:12 pm

My neighbor came over to help me level the trenches with rakes and picks, and then we laid down the domes.

All this for 5 - 10 gallons a day. I imagine that, in use, there will be a little puddle at the start of the dome, and the rest of the field will be bone dry. :lol:
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I've never used the domes before, or ever done septic work of any kind before, but in hindsight, I would prefer not to use domes. Domes allow a smaller field, which is important if you are cramped for space, but I've got plenty of space. Old fashioned drain pipe is a lot cheaper and not as fussy about preparing the trench.

But, the sewer god said I must use the expensive dome, so that was that.

I found out later that I connected the pipes wrong -- they were supposed to connect to the top of the dome, not the bottom (so why do they put pipe holes at the bottom of the dome, duh ????). Putting the pipe in the top forces the dome to fill up and squirt out the slots in the side of the dome, which is how the dome is designed to work. Problem is, my 5 - 10 gallons per day will never, ever fill up the dome. I spent some time arguing with the sewer god about that and another issue. As usual, the sewer god had the last word. If you want your septic system approved, you must appease the sewer gods.

In some parts of the country, there is a legitimate concern about contaminating the groundwater, or contaminating streams. Well, I am 100 yards from a seasonal creek (which is already badly polluted with cow poop). The water table is 1000 feet below me. Even if I dumped raw sewage directly onto my pasture, all it would do is make the grass grow better.

Idaho laws do not encourage or even allow water conservation. By law, a two bedroom home must be designed to use 200 gallons a day. All I can say is, that we live in a crazy world. :?

Idaho county does not require building permits, so compliance with septic code is somewhat voluntary. Plumbers are not supposed to hook up a well until you have an approved septic system, but I don't have a well, so I could have skipped the septic permit hassle and no one would have been the wiser. I only jumped through the legal hoops because I wanted to take the high road.

If I had to do it over again, I would take the low road. :lol: I would bury a plastic 55 gallon drum in the ground, with holes in the side of the drum, and dump into that. Once a year I would need to clean the solids out of the drum, and put them in the compost pile. It would work fine, and it would make a lot more sense than this crazy system they forced me to use.

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mtngun
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Re: septic system

Postby mtngun » Sun May 24, 2009 4:57 pm

Septic finished ! ! ! ! On to the next project.......
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5shooter
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Re: septic system

Postby 5shooter » Tue May 26, 2009 8:23 pm

Nice septic system. I went through the sewer god hassels a couple of years ago in Boise County. Building permits are required and the sewer gods must be happy before you are allowed to build anything, even with plans of using a composting toilet. I love this land of the free! Like you I was forced to install a system that was way overkill for my weekend use. I had a neighbor fill the 1000 gal tank with his water truck so I wouldn't have to worry about it possibly floating up the next few springs. It will probably get way less use than your system and I figured it would take several years just to fill the tank before anything flowed to the domes.

My nieghbor applied for a building permit last year in hopes of starting construction this spring and is delaing with the new sewer god. The new sewer god instructed him to install test wells where the drain field was proposed and monitor them each week until the spring runoff subsided, which will be in a few weeks. The new sewer god just informed him that his test wells were not quite to his liking and he must install some more new and improved wells that must be monitored next spring before he may be happy and grant his blessings.

I remember all the sleepless nights I endured while trying to appease the old sewer god, not to mention all the extra cash involved that was removed from buying anything constructive for my cabin. At this time I still feel the pain of all the cash and time involved making the old sewer god happy, but feel very fortunite I was granted permission to continue.

My old backhoe came with an extrta 3' wide flat bucket that I didn't think would be of much use when I bought it. It has been very handy duing the winter, digging the crawl space for my foundation, and made the drain field an easy job. From your pictures I have a good idea on the labor involved before the domes were backfilled.

Sorry I went off on the sewer gods. I was only wondering how big your septic tank is, but got too carried away thinking of what people have to go through on property they have title to. Hopefully it will help knowing you are not the only one the sewer gods are assisting.

Best of luck with your project and thanks for the updates in your construction blog!

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mtngun
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Re: septic system

Postby mtngun » Tue May 26, 2009 9:17 pm

Ha, ha, your sewer god story was pretty funny. :D

My tank is 1000 gallons -- way overkill, but the sewer god would not let me use a smaller tank. Plus, the larger tank will go longer before needing pumped out, so I'm not complaining too much about the 1000 gallon tank.

I hauled pond water -- from a pond 6 miles away -- to fill my tank before backfilling. It was recommended to prevent the tank from collapsing. I carried water from the pond to the pickup truck in 5 gallon buckets. Dumped the buckets into 55 gallon drums. Backed the truck up to the tank, and siphoned the pond water into the tank. Repeat until tank held about 700 gallons -- enough to serve the purpose.

Hey, I'm not anti-government or anti-regulation. I can remember the old days when people would dump their sewage directly into lakes and rivers, and that was nasty. Aquifer contamination is still a common problem in some parts of the state. There should be rules to protect the environment. I was just frustrated that the rules seem to out of touch with backwoods reality.

Even though I complain about the local sewer gods, we have it easy compared to many parts of the country.

My area will not pass a conventional "perc" test. If you dig a test hole in the spring, the hole will fill up with water. In most parts of the country, it would never have been approved for development or subdivision for that reason. But, my sewer god did not require a perc test (because if they required perc tests, most of Idaho county would fail and development would grind to a halt).

On the other hand, there is no danger of contaminating the aquifer, because it is 1000 feet below me. The creeks and ponds in the area are already polluted by livestock, but even if that were not the case, my knee high pasture grass will soak up and utilize any waste water long before it reaches the seasonal creek.

It's not that I don't care about pollution, I do, but I think any pollution that I create here will only serve to make the grass grow better.


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