Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Certified Remodeler
Joined
·
3,207 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
The city has declared my septic system as failing, it is working just fine and showing no signs of failure but it is 50 years old.

Its the tank they are concerned about, the drain field is still working well. I have a concrete tank.

Being a city boy I bought a few books on septic systems and have gone to the University of Minnesota website and feel informed enough to want a gravity system installed. Less cost, reliable and simple.

Costs here for a 1000 gal tank and field is between $10,000 and $15,000. This includes design and permits. I have a 3 bedroom house with a 4th bedroom converted to an office. Fixtures including laundry are all water saver types.

I have a lot of clay in the soil so I assume I will be needing new fill for the drain field.
For you septic users, are you still OK with the gravity system and drainfield?
 

·
Certified Remodeler
Joined
·
3,207 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
We need them engineered here also, plus a recent lot survey. My area which is a "Nature" community has no street lights or commercial development in the entire community. So we have strictly enforced codes.

North Oaks, Minnesota was created by James J Hill the railroad tycoon, it was the first envirementaly protected community in the United States. We have clean lakes and much wildlife. Great if you like that kind of thing.

I researched the gravity drain field type system and the recirculating sand filter system. I like the results of the sand filter but don't like the fact it needs electricity.

I did say in my original post the cost includes design, which means it is an engineered system for my lot which is 1 & 1/2 acres.

I'm not doing the work. I'm a GC, not an excavator/ septic contractor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,836 Posts
Silvertree,

If the tank is the only problem, why don't you just sever the pipe coming in from the house and the pipe going to the distribution box (if a distribution box is present) and put in a new tank?

Moreover, can the tank be repaired? It is only a concrete box in the ground. What is wrong with it? If it is 50 years old, maybe it is just a waterproofed concrete block box? Maybe even brick? Maybe you can pump it dry and repair what is wrong with it. Or set a poly tank inside of it?

What size is your existing tank, and what do they specify for the new one?

These septics are getting out of control. I attribute this to the wider availability of rural water and more building in rural areas because of the availability of this water. Of course as more septics are built, there are more done wrong. My last two have each had 1250 gallon tanks (concrete) and I think 300 feet of 3' wide laterals. They each cost $5000.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
I would find out exactly what is wrong with my system before I dropped 10-15k to "fix" a working system. Maybe if you got it inspected and it tested fine they would let you be.

If you have a lot of clay there is a good chance they will not let you go with a simple gravity system.

Good luck with it.
 

·
Contractor
Joined
·
7,183 Posts
I agree with some of the above. My big question is why have they declared your tank as a failure?

Certainly if it is leaking it would be detrimental to the water quality, but to require a replacement with out evidence of a leak is nonsense, unless the authority is taking some sort of preventive measures assuming a leak is eminent.

And at that, a tank replacement is an easy fix, you should not have to deal with the drain field at all.

But then.....I'm over here and your up there......everything is different.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
Concrete tanks are the best type, much longer lifetime than fiberglass or metal. Could it be just the age of the tank has triggered a red flag in their system? Unless it has developed cracks from ground movement I don't see what could be the matter with it. Or if it is a two piece tank, they might be worried about the gasket sealing the two halves together. If this is the case you should be able to have a new one (gasket) installed.

Try to find out exactingly what the "problem" is and we might be able to come up with a better solution.
 

·
Certified Remodeler
Joined
·
3,207 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
The city sent out notices to non conforming septic owners.
I think it is preventative measures.
Tank is concrete, I looked inside:laughing: but I'm no septic guy. I did buy 2 books on septic systems and went to the University of Minnesota water control site so I at least understand some of the basics.

Small drain field that is working, one tank with cement cookie (top).
Don't let the tree trimmers drive over the drain field, filters on washing machine discharge.
I'm proactive in keeping the system trouble free.
I have it pumped every 2 years.
Got a guy coming out in a couple of weeks, designer/ inspector.
The original guy that said it was non compliant drinks a lot, but some people do good work that way.
Look at Rory:laughing:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
660 Posts
See, this is the kind of thing that makes my blood boil - the G.D. township busybodies.

"..its the concrete tank they don't like....The city sent out notices to non conforming septic owners..."

Some pencil pusher at the town hall has decided that what has worked just fine for a century is suddenly not good enough for his personal brand of eco-fascism, and so what if it costs ordinary people the price of two sets of braces for their kids to get into line with their morality? They've got the power and they're gonna weild it.

I'd be posting notices in the post office to organize all those so-called "non-conforming" homeowners and letting the elected powers that be know that their jobs are in jeopardy if they don't reign in their idiot building officials.

But, to answer your actual question - I work mainly on rural properties on well and septic. I'm not a well or septic guy, but I see how they're working out. The beauty of gravity is that it never breaks down, and it consumes zero energy. Has worked just fine on bazillions of septic systems for ages.

The ideal situation - and to my personal further infuriation this is actually contrary to most septic codes - is to separate sewage and grey water. A septic system for the sewage, and a dry-well system for the grey water. The little bugs in your septic system will be much happier chewing on crap without all that laundry soap and shampoo mixed in and it will work just fine pretty much forever, even without cleaning.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
272 Posts
Silvertree...I would look into just replacing the tank. I just did a complete system last week and as I recall the cost for the tank itself (1250 gal) was about 1200 bucks delivered.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Agree with williams. However if your at all in an area like me, catskill, ny. And have to deal with watershed because we send water to the city, and DEP. Than it could turn into a major pocket buster and pain in the ass. Went from a small 500 gallon tank to putting in a 2500 gallon tank, 1200 gallon dozing chamber, plus a monstrous leech field. All in all roughly 55k. Better look into what exactly you have to do to make it compliant before you go putting money into it only to find out you have to take it back out and put it in all over again.

I had an old steel tank that the top rotted through and in the process of hauling a nice plastic tank up the mountain caught the attention of DEP thats how mine all started.

Jeremy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Ive never heard of replacing a concrete tank . A block tank with concrete lid yes .
If your leach fields are still good and not leaching water above ground how can they tell you need to replace it ?
I pull steel tanks all the time in order to get building permits for other work , but i work close to a lake .
A repair doesn't even get engineered here .
The last tank i did cost 3400 bucks .
seems funny .
Sounds like some one is stimulating the economy with your money :eek: John
 

·
13 Licenses & Counting
Joined
·
197 Posts
I have a low pressure system - basically the next step up from a gravity system. It works fine, though I think they did a lot of drainage work prior to doing the design, because if I don't keep the ditches up the hill cleared out, it does seem like my yard is a lot wetter than it should be. That's of course a product of lands lithology - one to six inches of topsoil, 1 to 3 feet of clay, a small sand seam, and then 60ft of clay on top of sandstone.

As with anything, a large part of the cost is going to be location dependent. We don't see many gravity systems here anymore, just because the soils perk-ability, or whatever, required to get a gravity system keeps getting raised. As a rule of thumb, a low pressure system is pretty much the norm, with sand mounds being the next most common.

I did just work on one well where the guy was having a new septic with a UV system put in to kill all the bugs...$60k, installed, with 4 x 1200 gallon tanks. Totally overboard in my opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,967 Posts
Your putting the cart before the horse. Redaing books is fine but I wouldn't do a thing until you have an experienced individual look at it.

Couple thoughts.

  • If your septic field is 50 years old I would recondsider doing the whole thing as long as your tearing up everything. They don't last forever.
  • You need a completely detailed report of what is failing. Then have a pro give you some options.
  • If you have a pumped system right now and you are going to gravity that changes a few things. The original distribution laterals are designed for a pump, so when the pump kicks on it will dose a minimum of 75% of the void volume. That keeps 100% of the field being evenly "soaked" more or less. So, if you go to a gravity only system the design is different (at least in Wisconsin) because otherwise the effluent may concentrate on one side of the system.
When it's all said in done choosing a system because it looks about right is not the first step.

I'm not trying to be hard on you....I'm trying to look out for your best interest.

Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,732 Posts
What's a leach field? :laughing: We've had to go to lagoon systems here for about 20 yrs..


How 'bout a new "pond":laughing::laughing:



If the kids are in braces, your needed capacity should drop in about 5 -8 yrs:whistling
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top