What would a site on
rural living be without a page dealing with septic tanks.
septic tank was put in by the previous owner for the original house that
burned in the Cedar Fire. It is a plastic tank with a leach field of 300 ft.
Because our new house was smaller in square ft than the original, we were
able to use the existing tank that was not damaged by the fire.
In a septic tank, basically the waste water flows from the house into one
end of the tank where solids sink and are hopefully broken down by bacteria
(though not completely). The water that flows out of the tank is high in
nitrogen and phosphorus (fertilizer) and is spread out through the leach
field were it soaks into the soil. Yes, often you can tell where the leach
field is because the grass actually will be greener in those areas.
Maintenance - The septic tank operates by gravity so other than the
fluids, you have no moving parts. Eventually, the sludge that doesn�t break
down fills the tanks to a point when it must be pumped out by a septic tank
pumping service. In rural areas these services are easy to find and
sometimes they�re the biggest businesses in the area.
When do you know when to have your septic tank pumped? Most services can
calculate a service schedule when given the details of your system. Many
people have the service come out on regular intervals whether the tank is
full or not just as a routine. The other method for knowing it�s time to be
pumped is when raw sewage flows into the leach lines. Yep, you smell it.
Though this method is somewhat comical and frankly used by most people I
know, it�s not recommended. The leech lines can fill with solids that
restrict flow and then require additional maintenance.
� Usually, when you buy a house in the country, the health department
requires that the tank be exposed for inspection. Take that time to note,
photograph and mark where the lids to the tank are. Yes, the pumping
services are pretty good at finding them but you can really save time and
effort by knowing exactly where they are. I have my tanks marked with a
exposed piece of PVC pipe that is driven in directly over the tank lids.
Know where your leach field lays. We avoid
planting trees with invasive roots in the leach field area and many people
reserve that area for small gardens. It's also useful to know where
the pipes are when you're running around with a back-hoe digging lines for
new power lines or water.
New Construction - Building codes for septic tanks vary all over the
country and in San Diego County you have to go through several steps before
receiving the permit. A leech test is required to determine if the proposed
spot will be able to absorb the fluids that come out of the tank. Basically
you dig a hole, fill it with water and monitor how long it takes for the
water to sink into the ground. The health department will have to come out
at least twice. Once to inspect the site and once to inspect the
Journal entry about
my septic tank adventures -
Sept 30, 06