Photobucket

Author Topic: 55 gallon barrel septic system.  (Read 20316 times)

Offline Farmer Eric

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 24
  • Karma: 3
55 gallon barrel septic system.
« on: July 15, 2010, 12:46:37 AM »
Has anyone thought about or installed a septic system like this on their homestead?




Heres a link.
http://www.wikihow.com/Construct-a-Small-Septic-System

I thought about doing this but where I live is just temporary so I dump my travel trailer black water about every 3 weeks into a 55 galloon drum and transfer it with a tractor to a 5 foot deep pit I dug with a backhoe.

Offline bartsdad

  • Scrooge McDuck
  • Global Moderator
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • ******
  • Posts: 3870
  • Karma: 235
  • We're Vikings, we have stubbornness issues.
    • SPAMMY Link
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2010, 12:52:24 AM »
Might want to check out this thread.
Making the best of the DASH.

Offline Farmer Eric

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 24
  • Karma: 3
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2010, 01:05:50 AM »
Nice.

That is a much lower budget version than I found.

Offline radtke

  • Herald of the Goatpocalypse
  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 167
  • Karma: 6
    • the lost skills podcast
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2010, 01:47:56 AM »
i just installed a drain field at my house i used bio diffuser chambers that are similar to this Infiltrator Leach Field Systems
i installed 60 feet in two hours with one guy in the backhoe and and my brother and i laying the sections
« Last Edit: July 15, 2010, 08:31:43 AM by Mr. Bill »
Qui non est hodie cras minus aptus erit ("He Who Is not Prepared Today Will Be Less So Tomorrow")
 visit my podcast , the lost skills podcast @
http://lostskillspodcast.com  where we believe if the women dont find you handsome they should at least find you handy...

Offline millwright

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
  • Karma: 3
  • Cold War Relic
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2010, 09:50:59 PM »
Those drums will collapse in no time.
Been there-done that.
Parrothead          Tool-slut     Junk knowledge junkie

Offline Mad_Man

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 420
  • Karma: 15
  • Good... Bad... I'm the guy with the gun.
    • Calusa Commons
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2010, 04:56:02 AM »
Two barrels is not a lot of holding capacity.  The septic system needs a certain amount of 'hold time' for the solids to break down.  Otherwise you will just be pumping crap out into you drain field to clog it up.  Literally.
"We learn by doing."
www.calusacommons.org

Offline Dawgus

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1818
  • Karma: 88
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2010, 07:40:16 AM »
 If it was for a small cabin/BOL, I would consider a composting toilet or sawdust privvy and a greywater system instead. Pick up a copy of The Humanure Handbook. Great ideas in there. A friend of mine runs a swdust privvy in his all-solar house and hasnt had a single problem at all. I can't find the thread, but go look up 12vman at Backwoods Home forums and he'll gladly answer any questions on it or his solar setup. He's a talker lol
Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries-Mark Twain
 
My life has a sound track, and it goes to 11.

Married White Male -looking for wild healthy mature Catfish. No smaller than 15 pounds but the bigger the better. Does not need to cook or clean, just needs enjoy munching on chicken livers and long fights on the beach. Please meet me tonight at Walborn Reservoir. Ill be waiting.

Offline 19114life

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 186
  • Karma: 5
  • Life Is Good
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2010, 08:29:54 AM »
These 55 gallons systems worked here for years. The house I lived in had one my whole child hood.  I am not saying its the best, but it works with little install money.

Offline Joel

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Karma: 66
  • Just an old peckerwood in the desert.
    • The Ultimate Answer to Kings ... is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2010, 03:51:00 PM »
I'll be installing one in the next few weeks.  Dug the trenches and pit for it this past Saturday.

I live in an RV with a 40-gallon black-water tank, and except in the coldest part of the winter the contents liquefy in no time flat.  I anticipate no problem with capacity, since I live alone.  As for collapsing; I worried about that when researching the method.  But you fill the barrels with water before you bury them, so they're always full which should deal with that potential problem nicely.  When solid waste enters the first barrel, it displaces the water downstream.

Seriously, it should work great.  Plus there are plenty of them out there, and I can't find any complaints.
Just another freedomista blog - The ultimate answer to kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

A Solar Electric System On the Cheap, On the Fly, and Off the Grid! - An Adventure in Self-Reliance and Creative Poverty

Offline JGreene

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 663
  • Karma: 13
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2010, 04:55:42 PM »
I agree with the holding capacity issue.  I assume the second tank is to act as a baffle?  Maybe an additive might help speed up the breakdown... just a thought.

Another thought might be to separate your black water (goes to the tank) and grey water (goes to a tank for garden water).

LOL  just remembered a comment someone made the other day.  In their old house, they made their son (big kid) go down the street  to Dunkin Donuts when he had to crap!   

Offline Joel

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Karma: 66
  • Just an old peckerwood in the desert.
    • The Ultimate Answer to Kings ... is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2010, 11:17:51 PM »
A starter for the bacteria isn't essential, but couldn't hurt.  I know a guy who said he occasionally flushed a can of fruit cocktail down the toilet.  "What for?" said I.  "For the sugar, to feed the bacteria," he said.  "Why not just use sugar?"  "Well, I figured sugar would clump up in the pipe."

But you know, I don't think it's necessary.  I've been living with a black-water tank for going on four years now, and except in winter the bacteria don't seem to have any problem finding the crap.
Just another freedomista blog - The ultimate answer to kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

A Solar Electric System On the Cheap, On the Fly, and Off the Grid! - An Adventure in Self-Reliance and Creative Poverty

Offline Going Galt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
  • Karma: 2
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2010, 10:10:48 AM »
Would this be good for a gray water system only, or is it overkill? I was hoping to build an outhouse, solving the black water problem.  That only leaves the gray water, which I'd rather not just dump right on the land. 

In those pictures, it must be a warm climate... if I made it that shallow up here, it'd freeze.




Offline JGreene

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 663
  • Karma: 13
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2010, 04:17:49 PM »
Would this be good for a gray water system only, or is it overkill? I was hoping to build an outhouse, solving the black water problem.  That only leaves the gray water, which I'd rather not just dump right on the land. 

In those pictures, it must be a warm climate... if I made it that shallow up here, it'd freeze.

I'd rather hold grey water and use it for irrigation.   Or just dig a hole, line it with a concrete form or rocks, cover it and just use that.

Offline Joel

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Karma: 66
  • Just an old peckerwood in the desert.
    • The Ultimate Answer to Kings ... is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2010, 07:10:22 AM »
Yeah, at least in my case the septic system is emphatically not for gray water.  I don't garden right now, so I spill my gray water out in a pool on the ground - which grows very nice grass.  Some friends use their run-off for gardening, with success.  But gray water could overwhelm a 55-gallon drum septic.  Depending on how much water you use, of course.
Just another freedomista blog - The ultimate answer to kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

A Solar Electric System On the Cheap, On the Fly, and Off the Grid! - An Adventure in Self-Reliance and Creative Poverty

Offline JGreene

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 663
  • Karma: 13
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2010, 04:35:35 PM »
I'd love to replumb my house.   I'd have two exits, one grey and one black.  Should be by code... yea I know.. dreaming.

Offline Going Galt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
  • Karma: 2
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2010, 11:26:58 AM »
I was thinking that the gray water would contain soap, which I wouldn't want to dump into a garden.

Offline Mad_Man

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 420
  • Karma: 15
  • Good... Bad... I'm the guy with the gun.
    • Calusa Commons
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2010, 11:36:41 AM »
I was thinking that the gray water would contain soap, which I wouldn't want to dump into a garden.


A lot of soaps are high in phosphate, which is a necessary mineral.  If you don't want to do it for your veg garden, consider a 'forage garden' for animals or just growing for compost.
"We learn by doing."
www.calusacommons.org

Offline Joel

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Karma: 66
  • Just an old peckerwood in the desert.
    • The Ultimate Answer to Kings ... is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2013, 01:43:18 PM »
UPDATE:  I was reminded of this thread from somewhere else, and thought I'd give a long-term report since I built a septic system similar to the one linked in the opening post. Mine has been in place for approximately 2.5 years now, with 2 years of constant residence by one person. There have been no problems at all, in fact I'd say for my usage the second barrel is overkill. I've checked the solids level (isn't that a wonderful euphemism?) numerous times and never found more than a few inches on the bottom because the sewage breaks down very quickly. Worries about the plastic barrels collapsing are unfounded as long as you fill them with water before burying. My leach field is narrower and longer than that specified in the ehow article due to problems with rocks, but carefully contoured and so far has worked just fine. I'm prepared to call this a complete success.

Just another freedomista blog - The ultimate answer to kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

A Solar Electric System On the Cheap, On the Fly, and Off the Grid! - An Adventure in Self-Reliance and Creative Poverty

Offline ncjeeper

  • Most Noble Order of the Garter Snake
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 4029
  • Karma: 90
  • Oooops!
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2013, 05:41:29 PM »
I will be doing the same thing once I get my camper on my property this spring.

Joel do you add anything to your system to keep the bacteria happy?
The early bird gets the worm.....But the second mouse gets the cheese.

Offline Joel

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Karma: 66
  • Just an old peckerwood in the desert.
    • The Ultimate Answer to Kings ... is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2013, 12:24:56 AM »
I will be doing the same thing once I get my camper on my property this spring.

Joel do you add anything to your system to keep the bacteria happy?

Naw, a septic tank is a septic tank. Just add poo.
Just another freedomista blog - The ultimate answer to kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

A Solar Electric System On the Cheap, On the Fly, and Off the Grid! - An Adventure in Self-Reliance and Creative Poverty

Offline konaexpress

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • Karma: 5
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2013, 01:31:12 AM »
Naw, a septic tank is a septic tank. Just add poo.

Too funny!

John

Offline MississippiJarhead

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 688
  • Karma: 37
  • I never learned from a man who agreed with me.-RAH
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2013, 04:44:52 AM »
UPDATE:  I was reminded of this thread from somewhere else, and thought I'd give a long-term report since I built a septic system similar to the one linked in the opening post. Mine has been in place for approximately 2.5 years now, with 2 years of constant residence by one person. There have been no problems at all, in fact I'd say for my usage the second barrel is overkill. I've checked the solids level (isn't that a wonderful euphemism?) numerous times and never found more than a few inches on the bottom because the sewage breaks down very quickly. Worries about the plastic barrels collapsing are unfounded as long as you fill them with water before burying. My leach field is narrower and longer than that specified in the ehow article due to problems with rocks, but carefully contoured and so far has worked just fine. I'm prepared to call this a complete success.


That's almost exactly what we have. My Paw-In-Law put it in about three years ago. We've only been living there for six months and neither my family of five (39, 32, 4.5, 2.5 and 4 months) or the previous occupants, have seen any problems. If there were "solids" flowing out I'd know because I go check occasionally where it would and while the ground is wet, there are no turds in evidence. Heck, it doesn't even smell bad.
USMC MP '93-'00  NRA Life Member  GOA Member  Oath Keeper
“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
- Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Offline Nixinc

  • Fledgling Prepper
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: 0
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2013, 01:22:55 PM »
I wonder if this is scalable? Im have seen those 225 gal intermodal tanks in a cage that had been rhino lined to increase the toughness for use outside. Apparently they are not good with uv. If you rhinoed the cage and tank I would think it would live along and healthy life underground. It would increase the systems capacity to where you could use it for a family of three like mine. Even if I had to have it sucked every two or three years, the strength of the cage would allow for complete cleanout without collapse. might be doable. And if I captured my gray water in a similar setup, that might be the ticket in an unincorporated area. I am sure it wouldnt pass code in the great state of pa as close to a metroplitan area as I am. But if I were to relocate I would be willing to build it and see how it worked.

Offline Joel

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Karma: 66
  • Just an old peckerwood in the desert.
    • The Ultimate Answer to Kings ... is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2013, 02:31:18 PM »
I wonder if this is scalable? Im have seen those 225 gal intermodal tanks in a cage that had been rhino lined to increase the toughness for use outside. Apparently they are not good with uv. If you rhinoed the cage and tank I would think it would live along and healthy life underground. It would increase the systems capacity to where you could use it for a family of three like mine. Even if I had to have it sucked every two or three years, the strength of the cage would allow for complete cleanout without collapse. might be doable. And if I captured my gray water in a similar setup, that might be the ticket in an unincorporated area. I am sure it wouldnt pass code in the great state of pa as close to a metroplitan area as I am. But if I were to relocate I would be willing to build it and see how it worked.

I had a chance to buy one of those before I installed the barrels I've got, but turned it down because I was afraid burying it really would cause it to collapse. That tank has flat sides that are a lot easier to push in than the sides of a barrel. And the cage, being a cage, would not prevent dirt from pressing against the sides of the tank. I don't know it would end badly, but I have doubts.

If you really need a full-size septic tank, I truly believe you're better off buying one that was made for the purpose. At least it would remove a source of anxiety. A family without a working septic system is an unhappy family, and fixing it would not be trivial.
Just another freedomista blog - The ultimate answer to kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

A Solar Electric System On the Cheap, On the Fly, and Off the Grid! - An Adventure in Self-Reliance and Creative Poverty

Offline Nixinc

  • Fledgling Prepper
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: 0
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2013, 06:16:58 PM »
Thats true, they could be modified, I think there is room to slide some diamond plate i between the tank and the  cage, but we are reaching the point of over complication.  They have their uses, but its probably better to use them above ground.

Offline Mo

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 46
  • Karma: 4
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #25 on: November 04, 2013, 03:41:34 PM »
Thanks for the update Joel. 


Offline iam4liberty

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
  • Karma: 10
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2013, 09:01:42 PM »
in "Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat", Creekmore relates his experience with a failed 55 gallon barrel system. After a year or so of use it  failed and backed up.  He believed it was a limitation of the type of soil he had (hard clay).  So he had to bring in an excavator to remove it.  He then switched to a water based humanure composting system using a portable toilet.

I have been really intrigued with LaMar Alexander's wet solar composting toilet system. One of the clear advantages is that it doesn't require a drain field minimizing costs (though you can add one if codes require).  Another advantage is that it should be more compatible with water based toilet designs (portable toilet, RV black tank system, standard low water flush) than a traditional humanure compost pile system.  But probably the biggest advantage is that it minimizes contamination of groundwater.

Build details are in his "Simple Solar Homesteading Off the Grid", but he gives a video summary of his experience here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6jsMx9yGnw

Offline Joel

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Karma: 66
  • Just an old peckerwood in the desert.
    • The Ultimate Answer to Kings ... is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #27 on: November 04, 2013, 10:28:15 PM »
Any septic system's leach field has to be able to absorb liquid or the system won't work no matter what the tank is made of.  When in doubt, that's what a perc test is for.
Just another freedomista blog - The ultimate answer to kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

A Solar Electric System On the Cheap, On the Fly, and Off the Grid! - An Adventure in Self-Reliance and Creative Poverty

Offline Trekker Dave

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 45
  • Karma: 4
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2013, 07:22:00 AM »
Is there a general rule of thumb regarding a septic system close to a small stream?
Just wondering... recently saw a 2 acres plot for sale (future BOL?) that slopes down to a small stream. Thinking a camper parked there with this kind of small septic system would be great, but would I need to be concerned about how far away from the water it should be?
To be sure placement would also be dependent on where any well is dug, but a well could be "up slope" closer to the road I imagine.

Ideally, I would rather the camper be closer to the water & further away from the road....

Offline TexasGirl

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2248
  • Karma: 135
  • Simple country farm girl. Prepper? What's that?
Re: 55 gallon barrel septic system.
« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2013, 09:20:32 AM »
Any septic system's leach field has to be able to absorb liquid or the system won't work no matter what the tank is made of.  When in doubt, that's what a perc test is for.

I'm laughing like crazy.  The county I'm from in SE Texas began septic regulations a few decades ago, including "perc" testing.  The county official shows up with a posthole digger and a 5 gal bucket full of water.  He digs about 5 minutes then dumps the water in and looks at his watch.  Ten minutes later he looks to see how much if any water was left in the home.  Thats it, pass or fail.

Up here?  No restrictions if you have over two acres of land.  I've heard the county here doesn't even own a posthole digger!

~TG