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Old 03-21-2007, 08:12 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Building a septic system

has anyone done this?

I'm setting up the permament home for my 19 foot International and considering the ability to host comp parking... I'd like to have a septic tank for the a/s without tying into the septic system for the house. (my neighborhood runs on septic everywhere.

Doe anyone know of a DIY guide for assembling a system that will work?

Thanks,

Javier
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:21 PM   #2
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hi javier and welcome to the forums....

isn't most of florida one big french drain?

search 'septic' and there are a few threads...

nick, just up the road from you, is our resident expert...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/77950-post5.html

here is another one with good links and,

the straight poop.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ole-25326.html

i couldn't resist...

cheers
2air'
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:44 PM   #3
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Better check with the MAN!

Javier,

Most septic systems are controlled by "The Man", and I don't mean the IBT! It will all depend if you want a "midnight" system or one approved by the local gov.. Most Septic tanks are connected to a drain field unless you have a pump&haul. The drain field can be a "standard" drain field which is nothing more than lines with holes under ground in gravel, there's low pressure systems, etc.... lots of different kinds. You my find the type of system used will depend on the type of soil. Again, it will be up to you and or your local gov. If you get caught installing a "midnight" system which could be nothing more than a 55Gal drum with holes shot into it buried under ground, it could cost you a few bucks in fines from "The Man". If you still have an "outhouse" that is "grandfathered" in, they work well too. Good luck.
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Old 03-21-2007, 09:18 PM   #4
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Living in the country can have its benefits. A big hole in the ground, a 55 gallon plastic pickle barrel, drill 1/2" holes in the sides about 12" from bottom to about 12" from top. In sandy soil this is enough, in heavy soil you will need a drain field. You can't do this everywhere but for light use it works.
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Old 03-21-2007, 09:59 PM   #5
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midnight septic x 2

Hey guys,

Many years ago, in Soldotna Alaska, I put in an "out of sight - out of mind" septic system. It was much the same as those already mentioned. I cascaded three 55 gal drums to triple the capacity as the thought of digging in or around a waste garden did not meet my criteria of a good time. I also backfilled with gravel about a foot or so under and around each drum. I seperated them about ten feet apart, the length of a 3" piece of pvc.
This engineering marvel lasted for the three years we used it without a hitch, a smell or a freeze up. The catch is we hualed all our water. Pouring water into a 69 31 foot's fill spout at 30 degrees below zero is a thought provoking experience. You pour fast, brother, you pour real fast. Anyway, we lived on about 40 gallon of water a week. It worked for us with limited water use, might work for you if you are cautious with water. One other thing, we kept the the black water holding tank valve closed until we had a full tank, then we dumped. We learned from experience that the trickle down method of holding tank use was of no use to us.
Chick
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Old 03-21-2007, 10:22 PM   #6
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Try ECO-NOMIC homepage. Just about all the info you'll ever need for designing and building a system....but you may want to leave it up to the "experts".
Have fun!!!
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Old 03-22-2007, 12:23 AM   #7
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Among other professional pursuits and endeavors, I am a Licensed Septic System Designer / Installer and Certified Wetland Scientist in NH. Of course regulations vary from state to state, county to county and town to town. Here where I am staying in North-central Florida, it is my understanding that the local building officials along with the State will assist you in the design process of your septic system.

Usually all systems are based on soil conditions. It is important to determine the depth of the Seasonal High Water Table. Not necessarily observed water in a hole, but what elevation the water comes to during the wettest time of the year and naturally, that elevation will vary year to year. To make this determination we dig a "Test Pit". Using Soils Morphology techniques, examining soil color, structure and consistency, we are able to determine what that elevation is.

NH for instance, wants a minimum of 4' separation between the bottom of your leaching area ( bed bottom ) and the seasonal high water table. This assures the effluent is being treated and cleansed of harmful bacteria and pathogens before being recharged into the groundwater and ultimately into you or your neighbors well, maybe even a neighbor very far away.

If the system is too low into the ground disregarding this separation, each Spring or rainy season, the system would be inundated and saturated, causing a premature failure at the least, groundwater contamination at the worst.

Next is a "Perk Test" to determine how quickly the ground absorbs water at that particular site. The slower the perk rate ( expressed as minutes per inch ) the more leach area ( square footage ) you need. Soil structure and consistency generally determine the perk rate. For example, medium and coarse sands will perk ( accept water ) much faster than fine sands, silts and clays.

Septic tank sizes are determined by the amount of water you will use on a daily basis. This "gallons per day" is usually called out by the State regulatory agency based on the number of bedrooms that will use that system. The tank is designed to separate the "solids" ( ca-ca & paper ) that will settle to the bottom, from the grease, fats and soaps that will float to the top. The black water in between is what is called "effluent" and is all that should be discharged to the field. Solids, soaps and grease will clog the receiving area under the field and again cause it to fail prematurely. There are baffles at the inlet and outlet pipe to help ensure a minimum of the scum layer escapes. This demonstrates the importance of having your septic tank pumped on a regular basis. No amount of magic potents, yeast or other additives takes the place of this pumping to remove the scum layer at the top and the solids on the bottom. Cheap insurance.

I would not advise doing this as a "Mid-nite Special" but highly recommend professional help at least through the planning stages. If your going to put forth the effort and expense, you may as well make it count and have it documented. Regulations just keep getting tighter and tighter every year. It won't be any easier to get through the maze next year.

Installing the thing is pretty straight forward and often municipalities will allow a homeowner to install his own system for a dwelling which is his primary residence without a license. You don't want to get bagged doing this without the benefit of local approvals.

There is a lot more to it, minimum distances and setbacks to water sources, wetlands and poorly drained soils as well as topography concerns are among other design criterea. More info can be found at twhatem, septic system design,site assessments,

It won't relate specifically to your job or FL regulations, but may fill in some blanks. Good Luck, further questions ? Feel free.
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Old 03-22-2007, 08:46 AM   #8
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nick, just up the road from you, is our resident expert...2air'
This thread is of interest,
http://www.airforums.com/forum...e-25326-2.html
and my current system is described at post 23. I've found that a small traditional leach field is not best suited to the sudden 30 gallon onslaught from the black tank, and that a system using two 50 gallon plastic tanks works very well. The two tanks are within a foot of each other, and each tank has a small air vent, with screw-on end caps that are only removed when the black tank is dumped. The joints between the soil pipes and the tanks are made simply by spraying an aerosol can of foam round the joints to the holes cut in the tanks. The 3 inch pipe joining the two tanks turns through a right angle and goes 4 inches below the water level in the primary tank. With a short length of pipe, some plumbing parts and a can of foam, with two free tanks from a nearby dairy farm, the system cost about $25. It works very well, with no smell when the vents are capped, and I'm very satisfied as to its ecological effect.
Nick.
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Old 03-22-2007, 09:06 AM   #9
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do you have these 55-gallon drum systems pumped out? how frequently?

B4Wedihave we met in person yet? )
since you're from "around here"...whats your recommendation for having the house's septic system pumped out? how often?
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Old 03-22-2007, 09:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GolfStream
has anyone done this?

I'm setting up the permament home for my 19 foot International and considering the ability to host comp parking... I'd like to have a septic tank for the a/s without tying into the septic system for the house. (my neighborhood runs on septic everywhere.

Doe anyone know of a DIY guide for assembling a system that will work?

Thanks,

Javier
This might be your best bet....
FloJet RV Waste Pump Kit - Camping World
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Old 03-22-2007, 10:08 AM   #11
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Howdy Chuck ! Sorry to say, I don't recall the pleasure.

The long answer :

Mostly, the frequency between pumpings varies with use, tank size and construction come into play. The idea is to have a wide separation in the tank between the scum layer and the solids, keeping the effluent as clean as possible. Every time you take a shower, flush a toilet or run the washer, you stir up the tank pretty good. The fuller the tank of scum and solids, its effeciency is reduced and the more dissolved solids escape the tank untreated. That crap get together out in your field and eventually seal off the receiving area. $$

( there are filters you can add to the outlet pipe to catch these solids, of course they requires periodic maintainance, but they are beneficial. Some Towns in our area require them when designing a new system )

Zillions of microscopic anaerobic bacteria are swimming around at work in your tank digesting solids. Once they leave the tank in the effluent and go into the field they die off like fish out of water and another army of aerobic, or oxygen loving bacteria take over to hopefully finish the job of digesting all the bad stuff before that effluent is again returned to the water table and eventually into someones drinking water.

Remember the separation between Bed Bottom and Seasonal High Water ? The aerobic bacteria need time and the right conditions to work...... and of course, if you flood the field each Spring, you drown the aerobic bacteria and they die..... Game over. You see those candy canes on peoples front lawn ? Ugly, I know, but those are vents to feed the bacteria oxygen to stimulate and encourage their growth. They are your friends !

NO Garbage Disposals or water purification systems ( especially salt systems ) should be backflushed into the septic system....... watch continual big dumps from jacuzzis & mega-gallon whirlpools.
Of course it goes without saying, don't wash paint brushes in your sink or dump chemicals, acids or add anything else that would harm or kill off those friendly little bacteria in the tank. You want to nourish them and encourage their growth, be kind to them, for they too are your friends !

The short answer:

In a residential family situation, every two years is a good starting point. A GOOD pumper, not necessarily the cheeepest, will monitor those levels for you as well as inspect the baffles each time and get you on a good schedule without overdoing it. Find a guy who enjoys his work

It's one of those pay me now or pay me later situations.
Couple hundred bux every two years beats the cost of a new system these days.

Hope to see you down the road !
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Old 03-22-2007, 10:29 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by B4WEDI
Of course regulations vary from state to state, county to county and town to town. Here where I am staying in North-central Florida, it is my understanding that the local building officials along with the State will assist you in the design process of your septic system.
They will here in NC too and if it doesn't work it is your fault We had a very nice system designed by an engineer that does this for a living, he specializes in the larger systems but did the smaller system as a favor. They county/state wouldn't pass it and insisted that we add some more items to the system, so we did and ran the cost up an addtional $8,000 or so...system wouldn't work, so the permit to use it was pulled, had to bring in a portable toilets to use while it was being fought out. In the end we were finally allowed to put the system back to the original design, every bit of the cost came out of our pockets with no recourse on the state or county "know betters" I would be very hesitant to accept any help from the government. This was my case and yours may vary our $15,000 system ended up costing almost 2.5 times that much

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Old 03-22-2007, 10:44 AM   #13
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I agree Aaron, when I have a toothache, I never call a Shoemaker......

....or put another way, when my Airstream is ailin' I don't bring it to the SOB dealer, I come here !

When in doubt, call a Pro who will work on your behalf.
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Old 03-23-2007, 08:55 AM   #14
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do you have these 55-gallon drum systems pumped out? how frequently?
Chuck, I don't intend to pump them out. The primary tank is permanently full to the outlet level to the second tank. This second tank is perforated over its lower two thirds with half inch diameter holes, and it is buried in a pit about one foot larger all round than the tank. The space is filled with broken pieces of concrete which were lying around, and only required beating with a large hammer until they were a couple of inches across. This second tank is empty, except shortly after the black tank is dumped. I leave the grey tank valve open all the time.
I've operated a septic tank system at my home for the past 20 years, it has never required pumping out, nor has it produced odours. I monitor the sediment and sludge layers, and no action has been required. There is good professional advice above concerning pumping out every 2 years, and this is doubtless correct for a normal household where a dishwasher and washing machine may be used, and household chemicals such as bleach may find their way into the septic system. However, we are very careful to feed our home and trailer septic systems with the correct ingredients, so we hope never to pump out.
Nick.
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