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 04-22-2003, 10:10 Post: 53566
By the Brook Farm



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 D I Y septic system

Anybody install their own septic system?? I have a set of approved plans and permit for a standard septic w/20' X 45' leach field and 1000 gal concrete tank. It doesn't look all that difficult to do yourself. Looks like the labor to install one of these is around 2 grand here. Tank, pipes, stone, and distribution box will run another $1,500 and the company will set the tank for free. It doesn't look all that tough, but you never know. Anybody actually install one??? thanks........






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 04-22-2003, 10:34 Post: 53569
AC5ZO

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 D I Y septic system

I have done some septic tank field and drain line repair work for myself, but I am not sure that I saved any money if I account for my time. I guess it all depends on whether you have the time, equipment, and motiviation to do it yourself.

You just have to remember that water runs downhill and that local codes will tell you how much slope to put on the lines. If there is no code in your area, do not go less than 1/8 inch per foot of run and more is better. You should do perculation tests to determine how much drain field to use.

Some septic systems require additional permits from the state for runoff water contamination.

Also, make sure that they set the septic tank properly. It must be level and there is a specific direction. The outlet is generally lower than the inlet to pick off the middle fluid layer between the sludge and floating scum. I know of one tank installed in reverse and it has always caused problems when the outlet port (should have been the inlet) plugs up with floating debris.






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 04-22-2003, 11:50 Post: 53573
By the Brook Farm



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I have plenty of time, we are off all summer (both wife and I are teachers) and have little $$$. I do have a JD4600 w/backhoe and loader. Also picked up a nice transit for shooting elevations. The septic is not my design, but one done by a soil engineer specific to our building lot. I already have the approvals, just need someone to do it (inexpensively). Prices are around 3,500 to 4,500 dollars and far as I can tell, about 2 thousand of that is "labor" for about three days work. I think I can do it, since it has to be inspected I will know before I cover it if I did it right.






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 04-22-2003, 13:03 Post: 53576
Murf



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 D I Y septic system

Normally the 'cheapest' way to do any job is the barter system. You trade your 'labour' for someone else's 'labour'. It is VERY prevalent around here and has been since pioneer times.

Ask around, I'll bet there are several septic tank contractors in your area with school aged children. Ask them if they want 'free' tutoring in exchange for 'free' labour.

If you're going to do it yourself I have only one peice of advice for you, BE CAREFUL!

Double (or triple) check absolutely everything. The health of your family and neighbours may depend on it. Recently there was an area near here where the careless handling & storage of cow manure was the cause of an E. Coli contamination in the municipal water supply. Seven people died and hundreds more were VERY sick.

Best of luck.






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 04-23-2003, 04:13 Post: 53606
harvey



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 D I Y septic system

BTBF It is a some what labor intensive. Get some upside down paint. Walk yourself thru the plans. Get your tape measure out and mark it all out. Labor is leveling the bottoms of trenches to grade to prevent high and lowspots.

AS MURF SAID: Your most critical step is setting the tank. Your grades have to be perfect. REASON: You do not have a big enough piece of equipment to reset tank if grades are off.

And like Murf said measure the distances figure your pipe slope you must have it very close to code requirements. too steep and the "stuff" will enter tank to fast stir tank and some "stuff" will head toward your leach field. To slow and you'll be cleaning your house, SOON.

As you dig if you are a little rusty with controls and get a litte deep here and there have your stone company bring you a 10-15 ton load of course sand (depending on how far your main line is) Use the sand to level the bottom of trench to grade. (Stone will also work but sand is usually half the price) Sand does not compact so you will not get any sags in the line. You should not use sand in the leach field use youe 2's (or what stone is required in your area) to level those runs to grade. You can loose what ever sand is left in you main lin trench.

The project is dooable if you have some operating skills, common sense and think things thru before you do them.

P.S. Hopefully you do not have any under ground utilities in that ares. Here we must call before we dig any thing.

Feel to free to yell at me anytime. Been there done that only with the big hoes.

Harvey






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 04-23-2003, 16:49 Post: 53642
dsg

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 D I Y septic system

1/8" per foot is preferred for slope. In this case more is not better, you don't want the water to flow faster than the debris.

David






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 04-23-2003, 18:02 Post: 53645
Peters

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 D I Y septic system

Personally I have only ever worked on the conventional 4" pipe and drain rock systems, but the newer systems with the infiltration chambers seem easier to install than the drain rock etc. I don't believe they need to be as accurate on the slope and require less area.
Maybe some one that has installed this type can comment.






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 04-24-2003, 05:46 Post: 53670
TomG

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 D I Y septic system

I looked at doing the work for a replacement system at our camp. New codes made the idea seem undesirable and costly for a recreational property. I also concluded what most people here have said. Doing the work is one thing but getting it through inspection is another. We ended up with a farm pump for water and a composting toilet for septic and they've worked out just fine. I think I'd use a contractor to put in a real septic system.

Neighbours around our camp say the old septic system probably was an old car, and that most people around there used cars at one time or another. Despite the comments here about the precision needed for a system to work, cars or oil drums with a single leg for leeching worked well around here in the past--or at least they seemed to. Environmentalists say we been contaminating our ground water and they' may be right so improved systems are likely a good thing.

The trouble with codes is that they seem to be designed for the worst possible scenarios of every potential future property use. Sure does run up the real costs to present property owners to cover some hypothetical future owner. My notion is that I should pay for what I do and let some hypothetical future owner pay their own costs, but then I never have gotten along with planners very well.






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 04-24-2003, 06:44 Post: 53673
BillBass



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 D I Y septic system

My only comment would be to make sure you know what you are doing. We have been on a septic system for 18 years with never a problem. Our neighbors on both sides unfortunately can't say that. Their builder used the same septic contractor for both houses (we had a different builder and different septic contractor). They fought septic problems for years before finally hiring another contractor to come in and rebuild their systems. Very annoying to have a toilet that won't flush.






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 04-24-2003, 10:37 Post: 53693
AC5ZO

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I think codes and allowable practices vary all over the place. A friend of my in another state has to use electrically powered aeration on his septic system. I have never seen anything like that before in any place I have lived. Aeration is used in large sewage treatment plants, but it seems to be required in some new codes.

I had never heard of using barrels or old cars before. I guess that any settling tank should work, but I am not sure how you could ever clean out a barrel or car used in this way. Perhaps the idea was to use it until it stopped working and then it was time to buy a new car and bury the old one. The infiltrators are very beneficial from what I have found out, but my system is also conventional pipe and rock.

The septic tank is supposed to do only a few things. It catches large inflow of waste; allows light matter to float and allows sediment to settle; and it is the site for bacterial action to break down the waste. The outlet is positioned to take off the center water layer between the floating matter and sediment. The only thing going into the drainfield should be this fluid. Sediment or other material going into the outlet will clog the drainfield and eventually make it useless. The better that the septic tank is at separating the waste streams, the longer the system will work well.

Slope is important as has been mentioned. 1/8 per foot is the standard that I know, but I have seen twice that slope used. Comments about sticking with 1/8 per foot make sense to me. Your local codes should tell you what is considered proper in your area.

Pumping the septic tank removes the built up sediment and floating material. If you do not pump the tank, eventually sediment may build up, especially in colder climates where the bacterial action is slower. If the tank fills up, it will do a poor job of separating the waste streams and this can lead to clogging the drainfield.

You do need to know what you are doing. I just moved into a new house and within a couple of weeks I had problems with the sewage/septic systems. It is no fun to come home on Friday evening and have your wife ask you why water gets in the bathtub when she is using the clothes washing machine. The former owner paid for roto-rooting the main drainpipe under the house after I asked about the problem. The septic tank had been pumped as we were buying the house. (Hard water deposits, soap, cooking grease and who knows what else had accumulated in the main line.)

When I was looking at houses, I saw one where the guy was using a shallow well to water his lawn. The water smelled terrible and he said that the water (methane) would catch fire so you had to be careful smoking while watering the lawn. I am pretty sure that he was watering his lawn with water out of his septic tank leach field or the local groundwater was so contaminated that it was a neighborhood problem. I did not buy that house.

The point of this is that the systems need to be put in correctly. They need to be maintained to continue working. And nobody needs the headaches that they cause when they stop working.








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