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Septic Systems

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by earl764, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. earl764

    earl764 Member

    Joined:
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    Hello,

    Not sure if this exactly fits, but since this is environmentally related I thought why not.

    I need a new septic system as my existing system has totally failed from the exit pipe of the tank on. This was confirmed by excavating down 7' to the existing system.

    Regulations require a whole new system be designed/installed to current code. The existing system is from the late 1940's.

    My contractor is scheduled to do some test holes next week & a perc test w/ someone from the health dept.

    My ground is all gravel w/ exceptional drainage, so I do not anticipate any big issues with their tests.

    After he does that he can do some designs and give me the price. I already have a ball-park range.

    One option he told me was a Mantis system. Google turns up this:

    http://www.eljen.com/Pages/MantisGSF/Mantisoverview.html

    It appears that the system can perform an equivalent amount of work in less space than traditional designs and can be cheaper.

    Anyone ever heard of this? Looking for any thoughts/ideas folks may have.

    Thanks.

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  2. Circus

    Circus Member

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    Not a response to Mantis brand leach field.
    I've heard good things about adding an aerator (aerobic) to conventional septics (anaerobic). Given time, it's actually cleared old clogged failed septics.
    I'm not a plumber.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobic_treatment_system
  3. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Around here a repair doesn't trigger a redesign. If your tank is good fixing or even replacing the leachfield would be ok without an engineered solution.
    flyingcow likes this.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I'm not an expert, but I'd steer away from anything electric, or even 'fancy'. The existing system was from the 40's? That's a pretty good life.
    flyingcow likes this.
  5. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Presby Environmental manufactures septic tank components up in northern NH. They are quite popular in the region as its hard to find a large flat area to put a conventional field. The size of the leach field is about half that of a conventional one. The lateral design is superior to a conventional system. Even if someone abuses the system and lets solids into the field, the slot design of the laterals allows it to keep running. The use of the polypropylene matting on the outside of the lateral also improve the efficiency. I hope my system lasts a lot longer but if I do need to build a new system I would go with their design.

    By the way, they want to sell an entire system but I believe you can just retrofit the laterals if the tank is good.

    They are kind of picky on who installs their products so finding a licensed contractor may be an issue in CT but its worth checking.
  6. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    If you've got good ground and the room I would do a conventional system. Get prices but if you're not trying to cope with bad conditions I don't see the advantage. Whether or not you need an aerator (white pipe sticking up through the field, providing a continuous vent all the way to your roof that encourages aerobic bacteria growth) can depend on the height of the leech field, but nowadays it's pretty much a "mandatory" mine-as-well-doit thing. After talking to a few designers I was thinking of adding one to my own field. It was 2 yrs old when we bought and had failed after only 15 years due to a broken/missing baffle.

    Sometimes it's not the design of the system that can be to blame. The first thing I did when I moved into my house was to replace the toilets with low-flush models, the shower/sink heads with low gpm flow models, and get a front loading washing machine. Another thing was to disable the sprinkler heads that spray directly over the leech field and cut down a number of trees that were shading the area.
  7. dmmoss51

    dmmoss51 Feeling the Heat

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    If your septic is operating properly and you have good perc/drainage would the low flow plumbming components be necessary or even desired? I would think that a greater liquid to solid ratio would keep things movng so to speak and actually prevent a backup as opposed to using less water and having a thicker sludge. Wonder what other thoughts are, I come to this viewpoint just thinking common sense and there are probably experts out there that can explain better why this is right or wrong.

    (low flow plumbing being desired from a save the septic standpoint, not a save water standpoint)
  8. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Not an expert, but I know my sh*t.

    A septic tank has two compartments connected by a baffle. As sludge settles in the first side, clearer liquid spills over (or rises up) to the second side and flows out through another baffle into to the leech field. 90% of the digestion occurs by anaerobic bacteria in the sludge, but any effluent that gets past the tank will hopefully be taken care of by aerobic activity in the leech field, otherwise the field would quickly clog. There are 4 rules for a happy septic:

    1. Reduction of solids: If you've got a garbage disposal don't use it unless you must, but keep in mind every bit adds up. Other than that I guess there ain't much to do about reduction. Coffee grinds and lint are non-digestible. So are egg shells.
    2. Reduction of liquids: Solids need time to settle in the tank. The longer the better, and the less making it into the leech field
    3. Reduction of caustic chemicals: Limit bleach and other caustic chemicals that kill the good bacteria doing all the work. Don't bother with additives like ridd-x or whatever else, but I have heard it can be used to jump-start a culture (have also heard it to be harmful).
    4. Avoid compacting/watering the leech field. Ironically there's a lot of air under the ground (think plant roots). If you drive or compact the area it's not good for it. If the soil is saturated less air gets to it.

    So believe it or not, less use means longer life. Bleach is bad. A top-loading washer will dump 40 gallons quickly into the tank. We pump our tank every 2 years, and I dig up the cover to peer inside (why oh why do I have to look!) to check the baffle. It's the most important part of the system, without which the field will clog very quickly.
    bsruther likes this.
  9. dmmoss51

    dmmoss51 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the advice!
  10. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    We had our system fail a couple of years ago and because of local codes requiring greater leaching area with the current design, we couldn't rebuild it. The codes did allow reduced leaching area if we used a dosing tank.
  11. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I find opinions and "what works for people" in the septic system discussion can be as dynamic as a good ole Ford vs Chevy debate.

    I've got a septic system new in 2003. Just about every bit of food our family doesn't eat ends up down our disposal and into the septic system. After six years since the last cleanout I had the tanks pumped this past spring. The guy cleaning the pump (who also knew his $hit, no pun intended) indicated my tanks looked fantastic other than the baby wipes floating on the top. He did suggest I not wait another 6 years just as a general rule but apparently all that food I send into my tanks had no measurable impact on septic health. Everything looked like it should look, cleaned up very nicely, and I got a nice education on the system from the guy. The lecture on why baby wipes were bad was quite informative.

    Back on topic, my parents had a drainfield replaced with existing tanks remaining in place a while back. I don't see why you couldn't leave your tanks if it's the field that failed. You may want to double check...
  12. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    Without knowing anything about other types of systems, i would stay conventional if room permits. Its a proven and simple system. If you know enough people that can speak to the other system then by all means... Make sure an effluent filter is installed. Its a plastic rinseable filter that sits in the baffle that keeps large debris from getting into the leach field should whatever it is get into the baffle. Its cheap insurance. I rinse it twice a year.
  13. earl764

    earl764 Member

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    CT
    Hello,

    Lots of replies, thanks.

    My 1940s system has some issues. We suspected the drain pipe from the tank to the field had failed.

    When they dug 7' down they found:

    1. The tank was leaking.
    2. The drain pipe was cracked.
    3. I had no field - the pipe went to a concrete dry well.

    There was massive bio matting and the water wouldn't drain.

    The system had some sort of repair in the mid 70's. Looks like it finally died.

    Interesting all the experiences people have. We're rationing water use until the new system goes in.

    I'm thinking I will go conventional for the new system.

    Thanks.
    Beer Belly likes this.
  14. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    Before you condemn the whole system, have you taken the 1st 10 feet or so of the existing outlet pipe out by the tank? Had a similar problem with our system. Found that the outlet pipe from the tank was clogged very close to the tank. We broke out about 10' of the clay tile pipe by the tank and replaced it with plastic pipe. That was about 20 years ago and it's been fine since. Anyone else, but the guy who came out and helped me, could have easily convinced me I needed a new system. Not saying that this is your problem, but it might be worth checking if you haven't looked at it more closely than just digging it up.

    Edit: Just noticed your reply above mine. We must have been replying about the same time. Sounds like you have more problems than can be fixed without replacement.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  15. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    very good advice. Even though there have been ok results with garbage disposal, i still wouldn't do it. Over time, it will cause problems, not worth the risk.

    Use basic 2-ply TP. much easier on the system than quilted perfume coated TP. Never really understood the perfume on TP. Baby wipes are a big no no.

    I pump my tank every 4 yrs......every prez election yr. Easy to remember, i hold my nose when i get the tank pumped and i hold my nose when i vote.

    My 2 cents, if you've got good drainage, I would put in as simple as system as possible.
    mithesaint likes this.
  16. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    My folks have a disposal on their sink, and a septic system. Not one issue since the house was built in 1984.
    Tank is pumped every 3 years.
    Not saying some folks won't have an issue with a disposal hooked up, but obviously not all do.
  17. bioman

    bioman Burning Hunk

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    Try some H2O2, it will eradicate your problem.
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    That is NOT an aerator. An aerator is an separate tank with an elctric blower that mechanically aerates the effluent from the septic tank in hopes of setting up an aerobic digestion and keeping those bacteria working. Aerobic bugs eat fast. Those white tubes you see out in the field are just inspection ports so that you can verify that your laterals are not holding water.
    granpajohn and flyingcow like this.
  19. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    You're right, an aerator is something different. I should have called it a vent.
  20. earl764

    earl764 Member

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    For those keeping score I received the final cost.

    15K.
  21. altmartion

    altmartion Feeling the Heat

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    why do you say not to use ridx? I do a few septics a year and as you said I always use it for start up of a new system if I can't pump the old into the new. I also use it on systems that sit idle for months at a time. as far as once a month, no. unless you do a ton of laundry or use a ton od chemicals. I am just curious whay you don't use it.
  22. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    I had a conventional system installed in 2009, 1500 gallon tank and new field for $8000. I know soil conditions could be different, but i still wouldn't expect a cost difference like that. And yes it was done right, designed by an engineer and inspected by the town.
  23. earl764

    earl764 Member

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    Apparently a few things factor into my cost.

    Code requirements. X number of feet tank, etc need to be from basement, slab addition, property line.

    I missed out on saving a few K due to feet restrictions.

    Doh.
  24. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Well I went on a quest to find that answer one year, both online and talking to the county I live in and the info I found was there is way more then enough bacteria in your crap, no need to add anything under any circumstances. I was adding an additive to mine and not pumping it out every 2 years and some of the crap turned to soil, not good.
    Highbeam likes this.
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I am a civil engineer, this crap is my bread and butter. The first turd has more than enough bugs and bacteria to do the job. The only thing that ridx or any other septic additive will do is lighten your wallet.

    The common ones won't damage anything so you don't have to go and fix your mistake, but you didn't accomplish anything.

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