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Septic Tank Pumping -- Do you need to

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
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2002-05-22          38916


I have had septic tanks in each of the three houses I have owned, and I have never pumped a tank once. The longest I was in a house was 13 years. So is it really necessary to pump them out, or am I just lucky.

My current house has the exposed manhole cover so it would be super easy, and I have lived here 4 years.

If it is pumped out, what about all those bacteria additives is that just bull ____ ?

Dennis
CTB



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jd110_1963
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 87 westminster, md
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2002-05-22          38920


It is my understanding that a properly working system can go many years without pumping. The problem is not many work properly. With all of the detergents and chemicals that go into the systems, it kills off the bacteria that decomposes the waste. If you happen to have a public water supply with chlorine and flouride additives, you should probably pump your system every 2-3 years. ....

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Slamfire
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 5 Coker Creek, TN
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2002-05-22          38921


If the tank quits digesting and backs up, you'll have to pump it out. The one at my brother's house is now in its 47th year and hasn't had a pump truck within a hundred yards. The trick is to stick some of the enzymes and bacteria down the toilet once in awhile. The box will tell you to do it every month, but I think that's overkill. ....

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Wingnut
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4 york county, pennsylvania
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2002-05-23          38923


Best advice I heard was never pump unless you need to. Either smell or backup are the main indicators. Flush yogurt, old or sour milk, down the toilet every once in a while. If you do get it pumped, make sure they get all the solids out of the tank, especially at the bottom. ....

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Billy
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 975 Southeast Oklahoma
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2002-05-23          38927


We've had a septic tank for 25 years. It has never been pumped nor any additives added. The key to a good septic tank system is your latteral lines and not flush anything but water and waste. Even toilet paper can build up after many years, so use a trash can!

Billy ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-05-23          38929


Ironic! Just yesterday I started probing around to find our tank so we can have it pumped. We've been here four years and we aren't certain when it was last pumped or even what kind of tank it is; so it's a good idea to look. A previous owner removed the marker so now I have to probe.

In terms of pumping, it depends on what's put into a tank and how much. Seven person-years is a rule of thumb Iíve heard. Weíre a 2-person household. Bath and toilet goes into the septic system while kitchen and laundry goes into a gray water pit. Weíre probably on the long side of the rule of thumb.

I'm hardly an expert, but here's my understanding: Virtually every tank receives some material that's not biodegradable and that material builds up in the tank no matter how well the system works. Enzymes or bacteria that chew up soaps, Greece, detergents are available, and accelerants that sped liquidation of solid material. But still, solid material builds up.

As indigestible material increases in a tank (two tanks for double chambered systems), tank volumes are reduced. Waste spends less time in the tanks and undigested material starts going into the leech field. There is potential for contaminating the surface water table in the area. There also is potential to clog the leech field. By the time serious odor and backed up water is noticed a leech field may be damaged.

Anyway, I think that a good pumping company can say how often a particular tank should be pumped. Around here, it's about $150 cdn to have one pumped during the summer. It's much higher ($2000 I've heard) during the winter because waste can't be spread while the ground is frozen and has to be trucked about 3 hours to a large city treatment plant. Anyway, at $150, I'm not going to fool around with it. I'm just going to have it pumped regularly.

....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2002-05-23          38936


Yes and No;
A properly working system will go a long time before needing repair. By the time it is backing up the field lines have been done some damage.
In the cost of a new system, I am three for three currently on putting new systems in our houses. The tank is ~ 1500 but the field lines are more. It can cost you 5000 or more depending on the house and system. Rather than the tank you need to protect the field lines.
Previously we had a Rainbow vacuum. In this system you vacumm the floor into water and then flush it down the toilet. The dirt feeds the septic system. ....

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Septic Tank Pumping -- Do you need to

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DavidJ
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 62 Alabama
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2002-05-23          38941


I agree with most post, Some systems can go long times between pumpings some cannot. On my system I have seperate systems for kitchen and clothes washer. I have been in this house about 15 years and have never had to have it pumped. I have it checked about every 4 years by a neighbor in the business and have not had enough build up to require pumping. I use some of the bio material about every 2-3 months but not sure it's really needed. ....

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treeman
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 251 Wisconsin
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2002-05-23          38943


In Wisconsin you must pump at least every 3 years. Also, before you can sell your house, the septic must be pumped and inspected. It cost me $90 last time to get it pumped. Sometimes if your field gets contaminated you will have to go with a mound system which costs alot more. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
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2002-05-23          38969


So, besides spending the money to get it pumped, I guess we are all saying that pumping it cannot really hurt the system??? Right!

And if anything may help prevent the leach field from getting clogged. I know this is usually the most expensive part of the system.

After it is pumped do you have to run your tap water to fill it up?? And then add yogurt or other bottled bacteria to it?? Or do you just let it fill up as you use it??

Dennis
CTB ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-05-24          38972


I'm not sure that anything special has to be done after a tank is pumped. There would be plenty of bacteria left in the tank and the tank would fill with water soon enough. I'd probably would run some water into it because it seems like a good idea and put in some bio-mass. Old hamburg and fish guts are favoured around here. I use a pound of brewer's yeast twice a year. I think that starter additives are available. I've never been certain what yogert is supposed to do. I'm not sure the yogert bacteria act anaerobically to breakdown waste. It might accelerate the process though. If so, then yogert wouldn't do much until waste was already in the tank.

Well, getting ours pumped is a little bigger deal than for most. The tank is a home made double chambered job. Some of the construction uses cement blocks and I guess would be prone to cracking if something drove over it. There are 8' cedar logs on top for protection. If there is a small access cover, the marker is long gone and I have no way to locate a cover. Guess I have to hoe off the soil on top the logs and pull them off the tank, and be very careful with the hoe down-pressure I think. The tank is long and narrow. Itíll take a bit of planning to figure how to dig without driving on the tank and pile the soil so the logs can be pulled off and on and the hole can be back-filled without driving on the leech line. Bunch of constraints here. Wonder how Iím going to do it?
....

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treeman
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 251 Wisconsin
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2002-05-24          38989


All the people that I've had pump my septic(4)say there is no reason to have to put additives in your septic except maybe when it is new. Two of the people install septics also. They say "either pay us now or pay us later". My sister also worked at a contractor that would install septics. She has seen some real strang things. One woman put so much yeast down that it smelled like she was brewing beer. The foam was coming out of her vent pipes. All her soil had to be removed and she got a nice expensive mound system. Sometimes the system is never pumped and fills up with "dirt and roots". Then you have to get down there and shovel it out. No thanks...I'll pump mine. ....

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David Waite
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 43
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2002-05-25          39012


I have mine pumped about every 3 years now. This after I had flushing problems and when it was pumped the first time in ten years and they recomended with 5 people in the house and only a 650 gallon holding tank. The minimum tank now for a house in PA is 1000 gallons unless you have multiple bathrooms and a garbage disposal then you might have to go upto 2000 gallons. New septic systems around here weather the ground percs or not is mound type. The biggest reason for pumping mine per the Honey dipper is the the small tank will fill before it can change and can fill your drain field. So it is cheep insurance. ....

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Ravenn
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11 Minnesota
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2002-08-06          41024


I see the posts to this topic are from May, but I'll ad my 2 cents. I work at a sewer and water distributorship, so we deal with materials for septic systems every day.

DO have your septic tank pumped every 3-4 years. You don't want solids to gradually build up in the tank to the point that some are flowing out with the liquid to your drainfield or are being pumped into your mound system. Solids getting into the drainfield are the quickest way to cause a system to fail.

DON'T put additives into your septic system. After pumping, there is always enough bacteria left to start another colony. Especially do not put in any additives that are advertised to "clean" your septic tank. I recently got to see firsthand the result of a restaurant's septic system after the owner put in "tank cleaner" additive. He definitely did have a sparkly clean septic tank but unfortunately EVERYTHING went out into his large mound system and the end result was his paying over $15,000 to replace the mound treatment area - in the last place on the property that he might have expanded his business in the future.

DON'T dump oil, paints, or any chemicals into your septic system. In your drainfield, sewer water filters out thru the particles in the soil, seeps away and is cleansed. All the items I mentioned, along with high amounts of food, etc introduced into septic systems, plug up the gaps between the particles in the soil of the drainfield. If that happens your drainfield will fail and you'll end up putting in an expensive replacement drainfield.

End of speech...lol. Good luck! ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2002-08-06          41027


Ravenn, what is the story on using small amounts of bleach in the laundry? A bad thing? ....

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Septic Tank Pumping -- Do you need to

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Ravenn
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11 Minnesota
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2002-08-06          41031


Mark,
Bleach and stuff that is normally used and enters the septic system aren't a problem. Dilution, evaporation, etc help take care of things like that as well. Oil, paints and similar things that will coat the soil in the drainfield - those are the things that shouldn't go down the drain.

....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-08-07          41036


I've heard that bleach isn't good as a water purifier unless the water has little suspended organic material. Chlorine bonds to most organic compounds, including bacteria. Water with a lot of suspended organics takes the chlorine out of solution and has to be filtered before chlorine is effective at killing bacteria. By its nature, there's plenty of suspended organic material in a septic tank. I believe thatís why septic systems have fair tolerance to bleach, although they probably work better if none is used.

The story came to me from a municipal treatment plant worker when I was wondering why time was being taken for shipping mobile water treatment plants to camps near Rwanda during the troubles there. I figured that people were dying in the camps, and planeloads of bleach should have been the emergency response. As is often the case, things aren't as simple as I first see them it seems.

I'm curious about additives. Some are labeled 'safe bacterial additives.' My sense of the products is that they accelerate the decomposition process. A question is whether they're useful and harmless when used as directed, harmful or just not necessary in a properly working system?
....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2002-08-07          41049


Bleach will kill bacteria. If you have a lot of suppended solids the bleach will react with all the solids and be ineffective on the bacteria in solution or in the center of the organics. Thus you need to filter the water before treating with chlorine.
This is true for municipal water treatment or pools.
In septic system there is a lot of organics for the bleach to react with. It will kill the baterial on the surface but not in the mass of organic matter in the tank. Once the bleach has broken down some of the organics the bateria will repopulate the tank.
Adding a little soil to the tank will add some of the helpful bacteria and is a lot less costly than the special additives. The water based floor cleaners do this.
As with any soap they act to accelerate baterial action and feed the system. But as in the lake too much of a good think will overpopulate one type of bacteria and slow the break down of other oils, paper and other material.
Peters ....

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MRETICS
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2002-08-07          41051


Septic systems..........the mind boggles.

The proper installation and maintinence of a home septic system is no easy topic.

There are so many factors involved, such as topography, soil types, soil hydrography, and water usage there are few quick, genaric answers.

Oils and solvents down a drain are never a good thing. As far as adding chemicals or bacteria...........
A conventinal septic system that is designed properly will need no addition of bacteria, us humans discharge plenty of the little beasts.

If you have a conventional system, and your pot is plugged and you can't(insert your own word here), then you have a failed system. Failure may be caused by factors that pumping won't cure in the longterm and pumping will become more frequent.

But....here is the big stink (parden my pun). Bacteria discharge into the watershed.

There is good bacteria, and there is bad bacteria, and if if I attempted to sort them out on this forum, "Death by Bordem" would be a good title.

A septic system may appear to the homeowner as working properly, yet bacteria are getting through his system and into the groundwater, or any streams, even sub-surface drainage, Maybe even his own well.

My advice, get in touch with your local extension agent, or soil and water conservation district. (Hank Kimble to all you old "Green Acres" fans), and he can get you the info and expert advice you need.

F.Y.I.

In Indiana alone, the authorities estimate that 40% of private septic systems are substandard, or failing.

When the "powers that be" hear numbers like that, change is emminent.

Consider yourself warned.

....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-08-08          41068


Such puns are mild compared to the ones used by one of our local pumpers. His vehicles are named things like 'Turd Hearse' (there are others). His company motto seems to be 'Nobody sticks their nose in our business' at least that's what's written on the trucks. I suppose he got tired of other people making jokes about him so he just outdid them all.

In terms of regulations, two winters ago local pumpers had to stop spreading during the winter. Sludge is stored and heated until 40' or so tanker trailers are full and then they are driven over 3-hours and dumped into a city system. The cost is about $2000 to have your tank pumped during the winter compared to about $200 during the summer. However, the summer price may be going up since a local field used for spreading can't be used after September.

I understand the need for regulations. I just wish the people who make them would come up with viable solutions as well. In Canada, big cities get billions of government funding for their infrastructure projects. Country people just get more regulations.
....

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MRETHICS
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 190 Star City, Indiana
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2002-08-08          41080


TomG,
The system for prioitizing problems in Canada seems very familiar here in the U.S. as well.

I live in a rural area, and am Chairman of our county Soil and Water Conservation District.(Please be forthcomeing with the applause, it's the only pay that job provides)so I am pretty well versed in septic systems, and the elusive funding required to meet regulations.

It's a numbers issue, the larger the population of an area, the more money they will recieve. There are many reasons for this type of dispersment of funds, and I gotta say I agree with most of them when I look at the big picture. I also have no reason to believe things will change in that arrangment.

At this writing, I am currently mired in a situation in which a small town, which currently has no waste treatment facility. Now and in the past each dwelling had a septic system. Following up on a complaint, the authorities found raw sewage in a local stream that came from a main drain line from the town. There has been plenty of funding available to build a public system, the big problem is, once the system is up and running, the costs of maintinance are more than the townfolk can afford to pay. There is no assitance for maintinance available.

The old "Catch 22" as we live and breath.

Just thought you would like to know, the motto's painted on our local pumper's equipment state:

"No Turd Too Tuff!!!!"
"I have seen the enima, and they are mine!"

This is by far the best topic on the board!!!!! ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-08-08          41081


Yes, I know these are tough issues. Spelling is my toughest issue and I corrected hurst (a low sandy hillock) with hearse in a previous post. More spell check dependence at the expense of thought. Our pumper has more choice slogans and maybe I'll notice some more. ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-08-08          41097


Yes big pictures are hard to see. Country people provide many of their own utility systems and maintenance and also pay zip property tax. Big government 'infrastructure projects' that pop up every time the economy tanks are justified as needed for economic stimulation rather than as directly related to the costs of providing utilities. Guess I'd just like to see my country household share of this economic stimulation in the form of some help upgrading our septic system. Might be nice to see a little economic stimulation around here too.

Of course, I should keep in mind that there is a grant available that pays 2/3rd the costs of installing pitless adapters on old drilled wells and converting to submersible pumps. I guess that not too many city people would benefit from these grants. Big pictures are indeed very hard to see sometimes.

My dad was retired in Lake Havasu AZ. I think the city was around 50,000 population when I visited. I don't believe there were any municipal treatment facilities. Everybody had their own septic systems and most were on standard 1/4 or 1/3 acre lots. Even though the city is built on desert sand, I wonder what will happen when these thousands of leech fields start failing? I believe that Chicago never had that problem. Far as I know even into the '60's the city had sewers but didn't bother with treatment. It all went into a canal and on to the Mississippi. There probably was a lot of federal and state tax money that went into fixing the problem.
....

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Septic Tank Pumping -- Do you need to

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2002-08-08          41099


Our man's says "You Dump it, We Pump it". ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-08-08          41101


Yikes! Maybe we should start collecting these. Maybe publish them and divide the proceeds with half to Dennis for running the site and half to a member elected by all symbolically in recognition of the quality of their posts. I might win that one hands down. Maybe I should think about my choice of language considering the context. ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2002-08-08          41103


Yes good idea Tom. One never knows if or how he/she will achieve fame in this lifetime. If nothing else you might get into the Guinnes Book for glorifying the occupation of honey sucking, a thankless job unless you are the one in dire need of the service! I like the idea of giving Dennis half of the book profit as well. ....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2002-08-08          41105


Well I would argue with Tom as to the taxes mean more services. I lived in Sturbridge MA. Paid 2700$ per year tax, no water and no sewer, no garbage pickup.
I know we had some good slogans on the pump truck, but can no recall all. I am sure some are less than printable. Something like the fishing boat in Sechelt, "Master Baiter".
Peters ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2002-08-09          41106


Oh yes, we have our share of charter boats around here. Happy Hooker, Wet Dreams etc.. ....

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MRETHICS
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 190 Star City, Indiana
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2002-08-09          41111


I like the idea of a contest, but again, how could it be funded? Maybe Dennis could publish the compilation.

"Uncle Dennis's Big Bathroom Reader" would be a good title.

The pages could be .......uh.....um...torn out and used for another purpose, thus making the entire book recycleable.

This would make the book un-loanable. And it would have a shorter,let's say, shelf life, and it wouldn't be a book you would particularly want to check out of the library.

All these features would generate more sales!

Better yet, we could market Rolls of T.P. with all of the slogans in print.

Lord!!! Somebody stop me!!

We could sell this stuff to anybody, even deeply religous people have a sense of humor. It could be marketed in 10 packs as "The Dead Sea Rolls"

I guess for the people on the CTB board it would be "Compact Contact Paper"

Make the rolls wide enough and they could be used as Gift wrapping paper during the holiday season!

Then we could start marketing x-tra wide holders to mount in the bathroom!!!!

I told you guys to stop me!!!!! ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2002-08-09          41120


Geez, I take a couple of weeks off and the whole thing goes in the 'crapper'....

Seriously!!!

Not to 'dump' on anyone for their posts, but....

Tom, all kidding aside, if your telephone directory goes as far as Apsley or Bancroft look up a crazy old coot by the name of McGinn, he has a 'honey wagon' business and the 1-800 number is prominantly advertised as ending with '7448', or in Alpha, "SH_T". The back of his trucks proudly announce "My work sucks... thankfully" and "We're # 1 in the # 2 business!".

I don't suppose it's the sort of work I would like to go "in to".

Man, this is easier than picking on ex-wives........

Best of luck, from a well rested boater....... ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-08-10          41124


Good grief. Creative I'd say; just guy humour my wife probably would say.

I used to go to my boxing gym to get away from my now X. I didn't have this Board then but I guess it would have been about as good as the gym and saved me the trips across town.

Gee, I used to make the senior welterweight cut (147 1/2 lbs. but that's minus a lot of sweat). That was some years and about 30 lbs. ago. Umm, in the context of this discussion I just don't think I'll go there.

I'm a rested boater too, or rather paddler . So, where is paradise? I figured it out. It's a creek with enough water to paddle most of the way and no portage trails marked on a 1:50,000 topo map. There are trails, they just arenít on the map. That would be about 5 miles from home.

Sure is surprising how far up the creek the pike and bass go. I suppose if we would have looked for a trail around a small falls, we would have found brook trout--even better. I could have done guy humour too.
....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
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2002-08-10          41125


A bit off this sh_ _ _ _y topic, have any of you installed new points lately? I bought two sets of everything, from points and condensors to wires and plugs for my boat. The new points do not have the small tube of lubricant in them as they used to. I thought perhaps it had be inadvertantly left out until I checked the other box and found none in there either. I am wondering with all of the "improvements" in ignition systems, if the plastic carrier is now a self lubricating material. I don't want to scrounge around in my saved "treasures" for the old sets looking for the stuf if I don't need to use it, or damage the material by applying something that should not be on them. The other surprise I had is the fact that the expensive Champion marine wire sets I purchased come with the distributor ends not installed. You thoughtfully get a bag full of assorted terminals and caps to try and "crimp" on with a set of plyers. I suppose in order to save them ten cents in manufacturing costs, they expect you to go out and purchase a special crimping tool that you will use one time. I sat in my breezeway for an hour with soapy water and needle nose plyers along with two sets of these these expensive "lifetime warranty" wires thinking about the letter I am going to write to Champion as I poked and squeezed on them! ....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
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2002-08-10          41130


Cutter;
I think the idea is that the wire set is a universal. I bought a set a year ago like that and all the lines are longer than needed. I don't know where they expected you to stuff the extra wire.
The points that I have seen use Ultra high Molecular weight polyethylene for the bearing. The same material used in conveyor belt wear areas etc. No it does not need lub. Lub will oxidize in the high oxone environment. You are better off with out it. Have you not noticed that points last much longer now. When was the last time you used the points file.
Peters ....

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treeman
Join Date: Feb 2002
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2002-08-10          41132


In the Sept. issue of This Old House magazine there is a article about septic systems. www.thisoldhouse.com It has the same do's and don'ts as most of you have been saying. ....

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cutter
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2002-08-10          41134


I suspected the same on both counts. The points file was out last year when I purchased this particular boat and wanted to make certain the power plants were OK. It had sat in a boatyard for five years, abandon by the owner. That is how a poor man such as myself can move up to champaigne footage at beer prices. I still have a problem with paying premium prices for exact fit parts and receiving K-Mart style ignition components. Unfortunately, there isn't a Crusader dealer nearby so I purchased after-market wire sets. Even though they are brand name and top of line the inconvenience of having to mess with that type of thing gets my old goat. How many people would go to the expense of purchasing the special crimping tool the manufacturer recommends in the instructions for spark plug wire terminations other than a mechanic? I will be certain to check inside the box next time before going at the task at hand, my mistake. ....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
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2002-08-10          41136


Cutter you need to determine what power plant is in the boat. Ie GM Vortec 3800, Ford 5 L etc, as with the out drives the are from one of the three. Not likely Chrysler unless quite old. You should be able to get the basics at resonable prices, ie GM without the Crusader mark up.
Peters ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
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2002-08-10          41137


Tom, I am glad you beefed up a bit. 147 is nearly birth weight for a healthy baby in my family. Wouldn't want to mistake you for a wrinkled pre-schooler.
Cutter, not only have I not seen a set of points since Hector was a puppy, I haven't even seen a distributor! Current inventory: new and newer Toyotas and a little Deere. I can figure out how the Yanmar fires off, Damned if I can figure how those Toyotas do it. Must be like that old thing about Thermos bottles.....keeps hot things hot and cold things cold and how do it know which one is which?
....

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cutter
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2002-08-10          41140


They are 4.3 GM's. I wanted marine "grade parts" if there is still such a thing. What I purchased is supposed to be just that, at any rate they match in features what is there now, including the gaskets on the caps. ....

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Peters
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2002-08-10          41143


Mark;
Just take normal grade, marine on it and jack the price 50%. I think if you get the silicone wires and boots that is about as good as it gets. The racing set are about the same except the wire is a little thicker.
Peters ....

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cutter
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2002-08-10          41146


I believe that is what I ended up with Eric, the wires are too thick to fit into the looms. Just another pain in the butt to work around. I'm glad they are guaranteed for life, I don't want to have to mess with it again. The biggest difference I have noticed is in the caps. They sometimes have a gasket to seal the mating surface with the distributor and sometimes have a vent, depending upon the application. My distributors are vented at the base of the aluminum housing with fine mesh screens, about as good a system as you can have. I had a Mercruiser in '86 that turned the components of the electronic ignition as well as the cap and rotor green due to lack of ventilation. They came out with a fix, a vented cap. Only problem with that is water can enter through the cap as well. ....

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Peters
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2002-08-10          41147


I guess we are off topic but, the distributors on the aircraft are sealed but are not necessarily plastic.
The best system for wet conditions is a vent which is nanoporous, like goretex. Water tight seal on every thing and then a vent. This is the system we worked with on the GPS systems from Northstar (Marconi). ....

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Fitch
Join Date: Jul 2003
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2002-08-11          41153


At some risk of getting back to the original topic :

About 6 months ago I had my septic tank replaced. It was a steel tank (I know, steel is a terrible choice for septic tank, no clue why it was used). It was also located under the drive way on the side of the house where heavy things drive all the time. It looked pretty bad when it was dug up. It was rusted through like "tear on the dotted line" along the water line on both sides. The leech line was half plugged, and needed to be "fixed".

Fixing the leech line means cutting into it where it stops being good, zig zagging to one side, and installing a new extension.

I put in a new traffic rated concrete 1,200 gallon, double chamber tank. The traffic rated tank can have a semi drive over it and not have a problem.

The previous owner had it pumped exactly once - right before we bought the house. Our neighbor let his go for 5 years and ended up replacing the whole leech line. Lots of bucks.

Our local pumpers say that the tanks can go 3 or 4 years but only with some risk - better to pump every two years. Experience, talking with neighbors, bears this out. Those that have pumped every two years have had no leech field problems (but the steel tanks are all failing - they were installed in 1988). Those that go 3 or 4 years or longer get bad smells, backed up systems, and have to replace the whole thing.

Pick your pony, take your ride. We decided we would pump every two years whether it needs it or not, so the new tank was installed with a traffic rated cast iron manhole cover on each chamber.

Fitch ....

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MRETHICS
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2002-08-12          41174


Kudos' To you, Fitch!!!

Sounds like you are on the right track. There should be manholes on every tank installed these days, so proper maintinence is more apt to be followed without out major excavation scars in your property.

A proper septic system in good working order is a beautifull thing. You still do not know if your leachfield is working like it should be, solids are only half of of the battle. Bactera being the other half, but you have taken a great stride towards a safer enviroment.

For your own good health and piece of mind, you may want to investigate the location of your well in regards to the distance from the leach field. The cheapest route to piece of mind would be to at least have your tap water tested. High levels of E-coli could mean problems.


Best of luck!

....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2002-08-12          41176


Tom, while I completely agree with your definition of Paradise, I also think it is like one man's definition of the perfect woman, compared to another.

Your paradise sounds really nice, BUT, as I get older (read "softer" here) I find 'creature comforts' become more important. Accordingly, paddling, hard canoe seats, mosquitos, blackflies, and tents become far less appealing than they once were. My 'canoe' now is 34' long and has 2 super-charged 460 cu. in. Ford 'paddles', they're loud and thirsty, but the generator powered air conditioning, stereo and 12 bottle wine cooler help me get over these little 'imperfections'...

BTW, the stern of the 'canoe' was prominently labelled "Bikini Bait" courtesy of my employees, they have almost as much of a sense of humour as me.

Best of Luck. ....

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Billy
Join Date: Oct 1999
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2002-08-12          41178


I still say if your septic system is put in right, you shouldn't have to be pumping it. That's why the health department requires a perc test (here anyway). Unless you flush anything and everything.

Billy
....

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cutter
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2002-08-12          41186


Yes Murf and there within lies the problem. I like to sail for the tranquility but don't have time for it most of the time. I have fished creeks with a canoe but the mosquitos and or blackflies eat me alive and always have. I have to settle for my 29' stinkbox that will take me to the islands in a couple of hours rather than a couple of days. Life is such a compromise. Motor, paddle, row or blow???? I was looking at an old blower in dry dock the other day when the boss (wife) and I went walking and was quickly reminded I have one in the barn to finish first....Too many choices, I hate this capitalism!!! ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
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2002-08-13          41201


Well, my brother-in-law and I went back to the creek, which is one of many around here we still can explore. We intended to line the canoe up a least one rapid that has a couple of 10' - 15' falls to a small lake and then maybe have a go at a second and third portage to other lakes.

We ended up fishing at the bottom of the first rapid and caught a few smallmouth. Couldn't find a portage trail but bush-crashed to the lake and scouted the rapid. On the way back, it was hot and we started swimming in the pools at the bases of the falls--water coming down rock walls into deep pools. Except for the pine and spruce, it was almost like a South Seas movie set.

Never did take the canoe up. It is true that work can compromise paradise, and with more age, paradise equals less work. Dang! Now that I'm thinking about work, I wonder if I really am going to pump the septic tank this summer. I have to dig a pretty big hole to get all the cedar logs off the top of the tank. Maybe in some contexts paradise is a manhole cover but I hope not.

Septic tank construction around here tends to follow Billy's notion that pumping isn't really needed--well maybe every 15-years or so. Except for recent installations, the tanks aren't installed to make pumping easy. The 'don't pump unless it's needed' idea has worked pretty well for many people around here (although I don't know if I'd like to use a dug well for drinking water everywhere) and pumping my tank is going to be a lot of work. Like capitalism, there are just too many choices. Don't know. Maybe like the fish, I'll just keep swimming.
....

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Big Eddy
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2002-08-13          41207


Just a piece of advice to those Northerners who do pump. Don't pump late in the season! If you do, your tank may not have enough time to fill and develop a properly working crop of heat generating bacteria and it may freeze. I once spent almost a whole winter using an outhouse due to a tank pumped in late October. The whole leach field ended up frozen!

Suffice it to day, no-one got up in the night! ....

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cutter
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2002-08-13          41224


There is a method to our madness up here, ever hear of frozen bananas? Hot seller! ....

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TomG
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2002-08-14          41229


What Ed says is good advice. I know it's starting to late for pumping around here. Our neighbours had theirs pumped once just for the heck of it. That was the winter it froze. Once it freezes, that's pretty much it for the winter. Trouble is that frost goes 4í and more deep here but tanks and leech fields canít be installed below frost or the system wonít work. During the winter, systems depend on composting heat and warm water input to keep them from freezing. Some people just run their toilets into the septic system and every thing else into gray water pits. We have a pit but run bath water into the septic system and have less worry about it freezing.

Companies can put steam into the tank but not the leech field, but even so a tank will tend to just freeze again. If there's little snow cover in December, some people put bales of straw on the ground over the tank and field. Guess that would work for recently pumped tanks too.
....

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DRankin
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2002-08-14          41235


I used to think to gray water pit was a great concept. Then I read one of the sidebars to this thread wherein it was stated that the soaps and detergents actually work to speed up or enhance the performance of the bacteria. Something to think about.
And Billyís testimony (above) is interesting: 25 years of trouble free operation with no paper in the system. Iím not sure I could get everyone retrained around my house to do that though. ....

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MRETHICS
Join Date: Jul 2003
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2002-08-14          41238


Greece? Just what do the Greek's have to do with this? Or do you meen grease? Sorry about being so hard on spelling, I suck at it too!!!! School is starteing around here right now, and my Stepdaughter sent me an e-mail just moments ago after she found out her Drama Club is doing a play called.....you guessed it......"Greece"..... Also alerting me to the fact that I was no longer considered to be in the loop was the fact that she felt it nessasary to inform me that it was a play about how a boy and a girl in the late 50's dealt with problems of youth in their time. I guess it's time to break out the old L.P.'s from the shelf and let her know just how "cool" the old man used to be!!

But TomG, after reading a few of your posts on this subject, I do not feel alone anymore, you, and some others have an uncanny knowledge of the workings of septic systems, knowedge that I had no idea excisted outside my realm. It is a comforting thought.

I bet people like us would be a great hit at parties, while most people drone on endlessly about sports and the arts, guys like us would be discussing leachfields, paremeter drains, and other truely fascinateing subjects. It is guys like us who change the world!!

Rock on!!!!! ....

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Murf
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2002-08-14          41248


I guess after all these posts, on topic and off (mea culpa), the whole thing boils down to one of two famous movie quotes, the first being Clint Eastwood's 'Dirty Harry'... "Feeling lucky, punk?" or Matt Groenig's 'Homer Simpson'... "Dohhhhh!!!!!"

For my money, it's an easy choice, my name is Murphy....I pump the tanks out every other year.

Best of luck. ....

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TomG
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2002-08-15          41266


Well yeah, I can see myself making city party small-talk about septic system mechanics. I spend most of my life in cities and probably never quite got the small talk quite right. My family were dust bowl farmers forced off the land into L.A.. Some years back I started thinking of myself as an 'educated hick'--explains a lot. Happy to have escaped the city and my small-talk fits better around here.

I'm going to try to dig my big hole and get the tank pumped this month. I'll also try to come up with some way to make it easier to pump. I'd like to think that I'll find an access cover somewhere under the logs. Then I can cut out a section of the logs on top of the tank, put a well half-tile and cover over the hole on top of the logs and put a bunch of blue foam in the tile.

The immediate trouble with doing my big-hole is that I've spent the last two days with a different pumping subject. We had a 4-hector fire near here. Provincial water bombers and fire crew had to be called in. We ended up with close to three miles of 1 1/2 fire hose and four pumps laid. The hose came from my township, the Province and the landowner. As long as you have to have a fire, it's handy that the landowner has a family logging business and can bring their own pumps, dozer and crew.

We got most of the equipment torn down and separated yesterday. Our hose is draped over the maintenance garage. When it dries, we'll probably spend the next two days reorganizing the equipment and re-packing all that dang hose. It has sort of slowed down my septic tank project.

A comment for Mark and Paul about an old thread: Even with foot-valves and strainers on the suction hoses, The Provincial crew dumped their tool boxes on the ground and put the boxes over the ends of their suction hoses to reduce chances of clogging the strainers.
....

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cutter
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2002-08-15          41296


You folks do have your share of fires there as well. Over the Forth of July week the smoke was blowing across the lake and covering a huge area around here. Extinguishing one is not an enjoyable task in this heat, but on the good side you didn't have a 3" lay! ....

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TomG
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2002-08-16          41302


Cutter: That smoke was from a bunch of fires in Quebec. We got the smoke as well for a couple of days before the wind changed direction. Some of the fires may have been fought entirely by water bomber because ground crews would have to get in by helicopter in many places. The fires did produce a positive news story at least up here. A number of northern communities were ordered Ďto be evacuated.í In one community, a native leader and volunteers refused evacuation and managed to save their community.

Quite a few fires around here but we're fortunate there haven't been more. We had the first significant rain in about a month a couple days ago. As fires go, ours was a nothing. The only thing that made it significant was that it started close to residences. That also meant it was discovered quickly. We thought it burnt 4 hectors but a GPS survey puts it closer to two. It started in an old barn, jumped a pine tree thicket and burnt closer than 100-yards from a trailer park. It also came within 50 yards of residences across a road.

Actually, the township does have an old 3" pump and some hose. In practice, if you can't carry a pump on your back, you can't get it in service fast enough to much good. Most places, a vehicle can't necessarily drive to a water source. However, the 3" pump might have done us some good. We had the fire controlled in about four hours, but we were still pumping water on the barn foundation a day later. Probably would have taken two people to hold the hose down though. We're lucky it wasn't another larger barn that is packed to the rafters with logs. We'd probably still be pumping water on it.

....

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cutter
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2002-08-16          41305


The standard around here is a 3" lay for a supply line if you have a hydrant or pond nearby to pump from. You would have to lay two 2.5" to equal the volume you can push through the 3", but I know that you are more knowledgeable than most people regarding this stuff. We normally have a large electric hose reel on our pumpers and carry "rubber" booster hose that can be easily retrieved. It is handy for quick attack, especially upstairs in a building. Hook them together for use on a brush fire.

I helped convert and old USMC 4x into a brush truck when I belonged to a nearby township fire dept. We converted 6v to 12v and removed the snorkel and waterproof distributor replacing them with new factory parts from an old Chrysler/Dodge dealer in town that still had parts on the shelf. We then painted it with a reddish-orange enamel donated by a local fruit farm that has since gone bankrupt. About fifteen years ago, some firemen got together and painted it red, even sprung for some gold leaf for the old girl. We had mounted a 100gal tank and small HP gasoline pump along with plenty of HP hose on a big reel. Along the gunnels, we mounted three stainless steel Indian tanks per side. When the truck can go no further, you mount up with the tank.

We have great mutual aid for the rural areas now. Used to be we had one old water tanker for the entire town, which includes five fire companies. I can remember being in a working fire and the portable pond constantly running dry. You would try and fill the pumper tank as you drafted from the pond so when you ran out of pond water, you could take care of the men close to the fire until the next town made it in with their tanker. Now pretty much everyone has a tanker along with at least two 1000 gallon pumper/tankers. Not to mention the water systems have reached more rural areas making the trips to the hydrant shorter!

Have moved and joined another company since, but have not been active in the last couple years due to work schedule. I was the sec't for the first fifteen years until one of the new young members decided he wanted to run against me in the election. I said "no need son", it's time for a break, you will run unopposed. He lasted a year in that position and didn't bother to show up the last half of his term for the meetings. Next year came our first female firewoman, she ran and won the position. Was there for a couple years and then relieved of her duties, something to do with ethics I believe. When I retire, I'll go back into it full time, I miss it. Never fought a forest fire, but I always did want to do it just once!

....

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TomG
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2002-08-17          41332


Cutter: I think the N.A. forestry standard is 1 1/2" pumps. We're converting our hoses to standard forestry quick-connect fittings this summer. The pump/motors are often dropped out of helicopters and carried to the site on peoplesí backs. Something that takes two people to carry doesn't work well if it has to be bush-crashed over rough ground. Sure would be nice to have the flow from a 3" pump though.

We have mutual aid among towns and rural areas around here. Several of the towns have pumpers etc. that respond to fires that are not threatening the forest. Unfortunately, our current Provincial government is 'business oriented' rather than mutual aid oriented. Our township of 250 population and about 650 property tax payers paid the entire bill for our fire because it started most likely by arson on private land. Of course, if weíre werenít here the fire would have been burning a Provincial paid about a mile away in no time and Crown land a whole lot sooner.

One thing about water bombers is that it takes time for a spotter plane to survey the sight and figure directions and release points. Ground crews have to be pulled out of the site while the bombers work. So, we stood around watching a line of pine trees near a road get more and more smoky, and the water drops werenít going there. That road was the way back out.

All we could do was work some periphery, and the bush was starting to burn near our staging area. All a matter of timing I guess. The provincial crews were running a hose to the tree line while the bombers worked. We worked toward the hose line with backpack pumps while the bombers left and met the hose crew in the middle. All a matter of timing, but close timing. Fire jumps the road and it gets real hard to drive back out of there, and this wasn't a real forest fire. Iím not sure Iíd want to fight a real one.
....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2002-08-17          41341


My back couldn't take it anymore, but I would have volunteered for something like that twenty years ago. I always liked being front line and enjoyed entering the buildings in what is now called "initial attack". I suppose it was that adrenaline rush along with the prospect of possibly helping a trapped victim. Once I calmed down [joined at 19] I took pleasure in commanding the scene as company Captain. In our area, we help each other, no questions asked and generally the state picks up the tab for major disasters and the businesses involved will contribute towards the cost of any materials used such as high expansion foam. Once the federal gov't gets involved you lose too much on the tax dollar before it gets to you. I think people helping each other and adhearing to high moral values is what makes a community a good community. Since we are talking about pumps, I believe we are still on topic right?? ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
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2002-08-18          41356


Nor my back! Ironically, I pretty much went directly from a chiropractor appointment in town to fighting a fire.

A novel featured an area near here. The author described the people as Ďnot so much friendly as willing to offer a hand if asked.í The author must have spent some time around here. There's so few people that we have to collectively take care of ourselves. There's just not enough wealth to support much of a bureaucracy. Our township Reeve and one Councilor were among the first on the fire scene and spent more time than most actually fighting it. We can't support pure bureaucrats or pure politicians either.

When I get back to my own septic tank pumping, following my neighbour's well, the fire and a few other things. I know that if I mention that I'm starting down at the store everybody will know about it and several people will just sort of show up. I do the same. Pretty good way to live I think.

I suppose if we'd become a news story then politicians from senior governments would have showed up, put on safety boots and hard hats and posed for photo-ops. You can tell people with big pay cheques and nothing real to do because you see bunches of pictures of them in funny hats. However, the funny hats don't make me feel that they're anything like I am. I just wish they'd go flip pancakes somewhere else. Too bad everybody can't live like we do around here I guess. Now I'm really off topic so I'll stop.
....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
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2002-08-18          41357


Sounds like your town is much more remote than mine, although we still utilize septic tanks here (on topic again). I transferred to a city position to "better" my job opportunities but would never live there. I have commuted for twenty three years. Thursday I worked until 2130, headed home in the rain and light fog. I was in front of the neighbor's house cresting the hill and a huge buck jumped from the bank into the side of my company S-10. I still can't believe he didn't come through the window. Last thing I recall seeing of him, he was brushing himself off and continued his run into the field. Probably a good $2k damage to the vehicle and I didn't even get a pot roast. ....

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lbrown59
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 931 First Organized Permanent Settlement In The Northwest Territory.
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2004-10-07          97825


To all you Tractor Owners.
Never mow over the Septic Tank with your tractor or even a riding mower.

A neighbor of mine was mowing on his garden tractor and the tank caved in when he went over top of it.

His was a concrete tank.

As tanks get older they tend to deteriorate and get weaker.
This is true of both steel and concrete ones.

Do your mowing over the tank with a push mower or a weed eater.


....

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rfernandez
Join Date: Aug 2011
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2011-08-11          179777


Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisCTB | view 38916
I have had septic tanks in each of the three houses I have owned, and I have never pumped a tank once.The longest I was in a house was 13 years.So is it really necessary to pump them out, or am I just lucky.My current house has the exposed manhole cover so it would be super easy, and I have lived here 4 years.If it is pumped out, what about all those bacteria additives is that just bull ____ ?DennisCTB


I had mine pumped out after 12 years. The bacteria are all natural for decomposition. Chlorine and other stuff hinders this. ....


Link:   charlotte septic tank pumping

 
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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
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2011-08-12          179781


Thanks for bringing up this post, I think I will use it to mark the date that I have had it pumped, as I forget when the last time was, been i this house 14 years now and had it pumped twice. Must be due or maybe not ........ ....

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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
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2011-08-12          179783


I was thinking of doing it myself with a trash pump into my tractor bucket. Anybody done so?

I've been trying to find the rules on dumping/spreading septage, with no success. ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
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2011-08-12          179784


Auerbach: After watching (several times) what it takes to suck up 1500 gallons of $#!+, there is no way I would attempt it with the equipment you describe. ....

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cutter
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2011-08-12          179788


Eeeee,,,,, I pass on the suck it out and use the loader! ....

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kthompson
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2011-08-12          179791


Here think they charge from $100 to $200 dollars and dumping is very regulated must go into sewer system. No way I would try it myself. Then I don't have the pump or way to haul. ....

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DRankin
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2011-08-12          179798


Quote:
Originally Posted by cutter | view 179788
Eeeee,,,,, I pass on the suck it out and use the loader!


Nice theory, but it sure wouldn't work on my system. You cannot get a loader bucket into a 6x8 concrete cube with a small manhole type lid...... besides the fact that the thing is 5 feet deep and buried under 3 feet of soil.

The pros don't use pumps. They use a vacuum truck. Think of a 3000 gallon wet/dry shop vac with a 6 inch hose. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
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2011-08-12          179800


And when the truck sucks it up the fumes are sure sweeeeeeeeet :) ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
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2011-08-12          179803


Ergo the term "honey sucker"!
....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2011-08-15          179843


Quote:
Originally Posted by auerbach | view 179783
I was thinking of doing it myself with a trash pump into my tractor bucket. Anybody done so?


I've never done it, mostly because it's illegal to do so in Canada.

Besides, for the $150 the guy with the 'honey wagon' charges to do it for me, you're not even going to find me anywhere near when he] does it.


Best of luck. ....

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plumbnew
Join Date: Jan 2012
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2012-01-10          181971


I hate to bump this thread, but I was reading through and was shocked that some tanks haven't ever been pumped! I know that it requires a lot of bacteria, but that is impressive. Would you say it's true that people with well typically pump less? In the event I was in need of assistance, can anyone recommend any Los Angeles contractors? I hate to not have a plan as you never know what we will come across! ....

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