Author Topic: Septic System for under $100  (Read 26866 times)

Offline rmarrs

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Septic System for under $100
« on: August 12, 2009, 07:38:23 AM »
As this is my first post, I'll contribute a bit on what I've done. 

There is a caveat to this, my BUL has no running water via well or public service.  Right now, we have a nearby community well that we get water from, and transport it via 250/300 gallon totes to elevated water towers, powered by 12v water pumps and car batteries.  That being said, this dry well system will not hold up to large quantities of water from a well or other means (I've seen a house flood from it), but works great for our system.

In my Septic System, I used the following materials:

(3) Plastic drums - 55 gallons work fine, but I used pickle barrels because I got them for cheap.
(2) 2 foot sections of 4" PVC - I got this for free on Freecycle (freecycle.org)
(1) flexible 4" yard line  - Again, I got this for free on Freecycle
(1) Can Outdoor sealing foam (window/door works fine)
(1) Propane torch - I had this at home, but not at my BOL, so I bought an extra one.

The open end of the barrel goes face down, allowing the sewage to flow through the sand and be filtered.  The maintenance of this system is 1 can of fruit cocktail, once a year.

A friend of mine built this system previously, and he put his PVC through and used gaskets and connections.  I improved on this method a bit by heating up the barrel with the torch and pushing the PVC through, ensuring a good fit.  I just used  the insulation around the PVC connections to ensure a good seal.  It was probably unnecessary, but seemed to work out pretty well.



The flex hose will be my camper's connection to the septic system.  I just got the 5th wheel camper, and will be pulling the plumbing to reuse and store the gray water.

I then dug a 7'd x 4'wx6'l hole (by hand).


I will take more pictures of the setup up there (including our battery bank electrical system, water towers, and because this BOL receives up to 30' of snow during the winter, the canopy roof I will be building over the camper.

We will also be digging a root cellar for food and water storage during the winter, as everything we have freezes during that time period. 

I'm also getting ready to test out a very inexpensive geothermal system for general heating/cooling up there.  I'll post more when I've tested it out.

Offline azjake

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2009, 07:55:20 PM »
This is a real winner!  I have seen a much cruder system with only 1 barrel divided by wood (for solid/ liquid separation) used daily for 10 years by 4 people.  If, in the future, you have a problem with leaching you could add leach lines, or a pit at the end last barrel. The relatively small leach area was the only drawback to the system I mentioned.

Offline rmarrs

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2009, 08:59:55 PM »
That's a really good idea adding a pit to the 3rd barrel.  The ground below 4" is pretty much solid sand, so I'm not excessively concerned about leaching, but I have seen the results of it. 

Also, in reality, this system cost me approximately $30, but depending on prices and what materials you can find, it could cost more.  I can also add additional barrels at any time...  I have another 10' of pipe and 3 more barrels, but for the primitive living we do up there, it works out great with just 3 barrels.

Offline DIM TIM

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2009, 12:29:03 PM »
VERY GOOD ! ! !   
I have to give this one a +10 Karma, for ingenuity and thought planning. This goes to the old saying.......where there is a will, there is a way.  ;D

In a grid down, post apocolyptic situation, this type of construction could mean the difference in having good health, or the start of a diseased retreat or homestead with the health of everyone concerned at risk. Where there is nobody around to construct a proper septic system, this type of construction, if properly done, would be preferable to most as compared to an outhouse or a slit trench for human waste disposal.   8)

My hat is tipped to you there rmarrs. This is a great DIY project, and I plan to add it to my own BINDER-O-KNOWLEDGE. Keep up the great posts, and keep us up-dated on this little project. Creative thinking to solve a certain problem is a great asset to the continued survival of our species.

Keep up the good work.

Offline Hellboy

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2009, 09:15:46 PM »
Would there have been any advantage to put the coorgrated piping off the bottom of the drums kind of like a drain field? This is a great idea!

Offline rmarrs

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2009, 07:35:54 PM »
Absolutely, that would add in the leach field.  If we ever do put in a well, I will be putting in a leach field off the set of barrels, but for right now, it's not necessary.

Offline survivininct

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2009, 09:04:18 PM »
Great!  As long as you do not deposit much in the way of solids it will work fine!~

Offline lzhome

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2009, 05:06:33 PM »
Excellent effort; my hat is off to you.

I have heard that bread is a good periodic treatment for good septic tank health, what is the impact of the fruit cocktail? Sugar?

Offline archer

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2009, 05:14:58 PM »
I'm being rather clueless today, can you explain a little more how this is setup and how it works? thanks

Offline Gadget

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2009, 08:06:12 PM »
My late father-in-law built a similar system for the bathroom in his pool house. We dug 2 4'x4'x4' pits put a 6" layer of gravel in the bottom of each. Drilled numerous 1/2" holes in the first barrel from about 3/4 way up and on the second barrel from about 6" up. Placed each barrel in the pits and connected them with a 3" pipe near the top. Poured gravel around and on top of the barrels and covered them with about 6" of dirt. It is still working 12 years later.

Offline rmarrs

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2009, 02:33:21 PM »
Excellent effort; my hat is off to you.

I have heard that bread is a good periodic treatment for good septic tank health, what is the impact of the fruit cocktail? Sugar?

Bread would make a good substitute.  The idea is the sugar.  The enzymes will break down the solid waste matter, and the sugar helps them to grow (much like dry yeast).  Fruit Cocktail just slides down a toilet easier than a bag full of raw sugar.  This AP article has some interesting information on the commercial brand of Rid-X: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/313183/ridx_septic_system_treatment_product.html


I'm being rather clueless today, can you explain a little more how this is setup and how it works? thanks

Sure, the concept is the same as any multi-stage septic system.

The first barrel takes the waste (ours is gravity fed from a camper).  The waste hits the bottom of the barrel, and natural rainwater, toilet water, and ground moisture help dilute the wastes, which will leach through the gravel/sand underneath.  The second barrel is to provide additional protection, in case the septic system gets heavily used.  Rather than backing up into the camper, the waste level will rise up and flow into the second barrel, where the process happens again.  The third barrel is yet another fail over. 

Offline archer

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2009, 02:35:16 PM »
Sure, the concept is the same as any multi-stage septic system.
The first barrel takes the waste (ours is gravity fed from a camper).  The waste hits the bottom of the barrel, and natural rainwater, toilet water, and ground moisture help dilute the wastes, which will leach through the gravel/sand underneath.  The second barrel is to provide additional protection, in case the septic system gets heavily used.  Rather than backing up into the camper, the waste level will rise up and flow into the second barrel, where the process happens again.  The third barrel is yet another fail over. 
Ahh, now I see how it works. Thanks!

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2009, 10:55:00 PM »
That's pretty kick ass.

I was just talking to my uncle, and apparently around here they've started doing deep leach system that uses what amounts to a big ass bag of packing peanuts, and a much smaller septic tank proper. Got me thinking as to how small something could really be - looks like that's it!

Mine's just a standard old septic system with a leach field about the size of my house and a 1200 gallon tank or thereabouts. Had some trouble with it filling up with water too quickly before I switched to a homebrew graywater recovery system for the washing machine. I now have some amazingly green grass for about half the lawn (apparently it's the nitrogen/phosphorus in the soap?) and random clover and such on the rest of it.

I never water anything anymore except for two plum trees that are still rather young/small/etc.

Do you have a similar setup to deal with non-toilet related runoff, or does everything go through the system?

I'm thinking I might re-route my kitchen sink and dishwasher to a slightly more sophisticated graywater system about the same time I install the solar panel and battery/inverter for it under the sink - kind of a "while I have it pulled out..." sort of thing. Any advice?

Offline KYdoomer

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2009, 08:31:24 AM »
Totally cool +1

Don't quote me but I think you can buy flanges that you can use to connect your pipe from barrel to barrel.  I'll have to ask someone about that.  Although I'm sure the foam would work fine.  My dad the contractor would know.  He also says that if worse comes to worse you can have a holding tank and just have it pumped ever so often but your system is much less system dependant and sustainable. 

Cool

J

Offline rmarrs

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2009, 02:40:22 PM »
Mine's just a standard old septic system with a leach field about the size of my house and a 1200 gallon tank or thereabouts. Had some trouble with it filling up with water too quickly before I switched to a homebrew graywater recovery system for the washing machine. I now have some amazingly green grass for about half the lawn (apparently it's the nitrogen/phosphorus in the soap?) and random clover and such on the rest of it.

Yes, it's the nitrogen.  Plants love it, but too much nitrogen on Tomatoes will cause a delay in fruit production. 

Do you have a similar setup to deal with non-toilet related runoff, or does everything go through the system?

I'm thinking I might re-route my kitchen sink and dishwasher to a slightly more sophisticated graywater system about the same time I install the solar panel and battery/inverter for it under the sink - kind of a "while I have it pulled out..." sort of thing. Any advice?

I don't have anything setup yet, but next summer I intend on gutting the plumbing in the camper and routing the shower drains to an above-ground gray-water collection / filtration system.  I would not route the sink drains to the gray-water system, as it could potentially have blood / bacteria in it, and that should go to your septic. and That kind of waste can quickly spread diseases.  Showers, Laundry Basin and rain runoff can all be directed to graywater collection for watering the lawn.  I'm building pavilion roof over the camper with gutters running to collection tanks as well.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2009, 07:52:05 PM »
Aha!

Ok, so I won't do the sinks then.

I do plan on doing the dish washer. i don't think the food that I pick up from that would be awful in a direct-to-lawn system, since I generally wash up the plates a bit before I put 'em in the machine.

maybe a system like this would be just the ticket, though.

*ponders*

Too bad my  winter is already scheduled up with projects!!!

Definite +1 from me,

Orion

Offline Leucaena

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Re: Septic System for under $100
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2009, 08:56:22 AM »
Nice.  For the next level of simplicity google "humanure" and go find a 5 gallon bucket and some sawdust. It works.