25 Sep 2000 at 9:42 pm #278689Anonymous
Richard McClung posted this inquiry in response to another subject.
“Hi, I found this site today and read your past exchanges with interest. What caught my attention was your idea that systems were designed to fail. Where would I look (perhaps on this site?) to find information that would allow me to fix my system without the expense of hiring engineers etc? Details: My land is sandy in South Alberta, Canada with 4-8 inches of what they call topsoil in this area (not that nice dark stuff). My tank is a fiberglass model and I have had problems with the field filling in with solids (including roots).I don’t think that gravel was used in the field – just sand.
Richard, it is difficult to give specific design advice for your septic system without the benefit of a site visit to view existing site constraints, and without knowledge of the regulations that control septic system design for your specific jurisdiction.
I recommend that you contact the local health department authorities to obtain a permit to repair your system if indeed a permit is required. If you wish to avoid the cost of an engineer’s design, then you must provide the health department with a plan for the repair to insure that components of the proposed design comply with the local regulations, and are approved in your jurisdiction.
Generally, the minimum design standards for a septic tank/soil absorption system which has the potential for an infinite service life are as follows:
Install a cleanout in the sewer pipe line within 3 feet of the building being served. The cleanout should be installed so that snake or water jet goes downstream toward the septic tank.
Install risers to the ground surface over both the inlet and outlet manholes of the septic tank. The lids on the risers must be lockable for security, and gasketed to prevent sewer gasses from emanating into the yard.
The indigestible sewage sludge should be removed from the septic tank when its measured depth is 1/3 the total depth of the liquid in the tank.
Install a septic tank effluent filter in the outlet tee of the septic tank. The filter should be flushed clean annually with the strong stream from a hose.
Install a diversion valve in the septic tank effluent pipe line so that alternation of flow can be practiced.
Install two separate leach fields (50% of the REQUIRED leach field capacity in each field) which contain risers to the ground suface to act as monitoring and ventilation ports.
Alternate the effluent flow annually so that half of the required leach field area is in-use while the other half is resting.
The in-use field monitoring ports are fitted with solid threaded plugs to prevent sewer gasses from emanating into the yard, while the ventilation ports are fitted with plastic drain grates to allow atmospheric air to enter the leach field which is typically 2 to 3 feet below the soil surface. Exchange the ventilation caps with the solid plugs when the effluent flow is alternated.
Perform the annual maintenance duties on the 1st of July, Canada Day. Canada Day is the equivalent of Independence Day in the USA, so I call it “Sewage Independence Day”. Celebrate your independence of the sewer grid, but remember that with this independence comes the responsibility of a sewage treatment system operator.
The choice of leach field material will be dictated by which material is approved in the regulations in force in your specific area.
My personal choice in Colorado, USA, is Advanced Drainage Systems, SB*2 gravelless leach field tubing.
The required area of the leach field is articulated in the Individual Sewage Disposal System (ISDS) Regulations in force in your local jurisdiction.
This is my best shot at “long distance engineering”, site unseen. Understand that Ray Charles could probably do as well. :>) JWA
John W. Aldrich
Septic System Consultant
P.O. Box 205
Timnath, Colorado,80547 USA
(970) 482 7460
26 Sep 2000 at 7:06 am #299074
Thank you, John. Your answer has provided me with some items for a solution. Specifically, my field is a single affair and that is probably where most of my problem occurs.
Thanks again, Richard
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