Septic System

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Hurricane Katrina and those poor souls trapped in the SuperDome brought home to everyone the importance of a good sewer system.  This little understood, yet vital, innovation of the modern world is not to be taken for granted.  Many of the water quality problems in the Puget Sound area are directly attributed to failing septic systems.  Sewage systems may not be green, but they are important to the health of our environment and those who live in it.

(Aside, when we lived near Haslemere in England, there was a door that read, By Appointment to Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth, the royal nose gazer.  Nose gaze is a small sack of herbs and fragrances tied around the head ,so that the nose smells it.  This was to relieve the stench of London from the lack of a Royal Sewer System.)

We have all the modern conveniences delivered to our property ... water, electricity, cable TV, and a paved road.  But, we needed to build our own sewage system.  Fortunately for us, there was a septic plan filed and approved before we purchased the lot, so we were ahead of the game and did not need to spend much time with the county health department. 

Our lot had at least 8 perk  tests hole (holes roughly 6 feet deep by 15 foot long) when we bought it.  The engineer was looking for a good place to locate out drain field ... the area where our gray and black water would be deposited and allowed to percolate into the soil.  The permit had the drain field on particularly sandy soil with good water percolation but it was near the edge of a steep hill.  I am not an engineer, but I assume our engineer knows what he is doing. 

Since no one ever sees the septic system, these photos show you the quantity of tanks and digging required for a modern septic system.  The drain field is something like 12 foot by 96 feet.  There are two giant concrete tanks, one to collect the sewage and one for liquid to be pumped into. The liquid is then pumped to the drain field where it is sprayed onto the PVC shells to spread it and allow percolation into the soil. (OK there is PVC used here, but do you really want to experiment on your sewer system?)

The one important thing I learned about plumbing this system is that the internal home sewage pipes need a slope of around 1/4in per foot, and it is better to have gravity operate as much of the system as possible to save energy pumping.

With the installation of the septic system, we are finally done with digging.  We moved dirt to create a good level foundation, then we dug the foundation out of the compacted fill, then we dug out the plumbing runs, then we dug out the garage, a bit more digging for the cistern and platform and down spouts, and finally the septic system.  We can now bring in good soil and plant grass and a few trees and shrubs before the winter.  The inspector needs to come, and we are racing against the clock.


We welcome your comments on this site.
You can email Christine Garst at
cbgarst@aol.com
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