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Old 01-13-2012, 11:23 AM
 
34 posts, read 37,654 times
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While considering moving to Maine and likely to an area not served by city/municipal water services, I'm reading about septic tanks and would like to hear from those who have one today and what advice or recommendations you would have, over and above what I can generally find out about on the web?

Do you divide out all your waste (like oils and food waste) and are careful not to put things like bleach down the drains (what about using it in laundry)?
Did you take heed to change your detergents, if necessary, for laundry/dishwasher/manual washing after you moved to a home with a tank?

Is the maintenance/irreducible component emptying intervals about what you expected and what is the rough cost of this, if it is an amount worth budgeting for? (i.e. more than a $100).

Have you had any disasters and what were their impact?

Finally, is there a good book/website that you recommend and that can tell me everything I need to know on the subject?
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Maine's garden spot
2,490 posts, read 3,082,312 times
Reputation: 2170
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhereDoIBelong View Post
While considering moving to Maine and likely to an area not served by city/municipal water services, I'm reading about septic tanks and would like to hear from those who have one today and what advice or recommendations you would have, over and above what I can generally find out about on the web?

Do you divide out all your waste (like oils and food waste) and are careful not to put things like bleach down the drains (what about using it in laundry)?
Did you take heed to change your detergents, if necessary, for laundry/dishwasher/manual washing after you moved to a home with a tank?

Is the maintenance/irreducible component emptying intervals about what you expected and what is the rough cost of this, if it is an amount worth budgeting for? (i.e. more than a $100).

Have you had any disasters and what were their impact?

Finally, is there a good book/website that you recommend and that can tell me everything I need to know on the subject?

Garbage disposals really aren't a good idea with a septic. Other than that, pump it out every 3-5 years. That may cost from $200.- on up.

As far as bleach goes, one cup in 1000 gallons isn't all that much. Now if you go a little nuts with the bleach...
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Old 01-13-2012, 12:55 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
6,302 posts, read 8,152,991 times
Reputation: 4375
You just need to have a soils technician design a system for you. The system will be based on three primary factors.
1. Number of bedrooms
2. Type of soils
3. slope of the ground

My parents never pumped their system in the 50 years they lived in their home. If a system is designed correctly and not abused by the homeowner it should not need to be pumped. There are many superstitions about septic systems. One is that you need to buy enzymes and dump them down the drain once a month. It's a waste of money. Your personal waste has all the necessary nutrients for the microbes in your system.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:13 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
21,871 posts, read 28,669,930 times
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All solids that go down the drain [food, hair, grease, 'ground-up food', and sand used as laundry-soap filler] will collect somewhere. Either in the septic tank or else in the leechfield.

Septic tanks are easier to clean then leechfields.



It is nearly impossible to be so closely restricting the things that go down the drain, so as to avoid all solids.

If you eat meat, there will be fats that pass through you. At cool temps those fats become solids in the septic tank.

When you shower, oils from your skin get washed down the drain. At cool temps some of those 'oils' become fatty solids in the septic tank.

So between your toilet and your shower stall, many solids go down the drain to become effluent in the septic tank.



Some municipalities require all septic tanks to be pumped every 3 years. Other municipalities have no such requirement.

Some systems go for 20-years [and longer] without any problems.

I have seen systems marketed where an air-stone is placed in the bottom of the septic tank, and air is bubbled up through it. This changes the bacteria that thrive in the septic tank, so they can digest 99% of all solids [except for laundry-soap fillers] into liquids that can pass through your leechfield.

Adding an air-line like that might be a neat thing to consider.



When our tank was installed I added a 2" stand-pipe, so our tank could be pumped out without un-burying it.



Even if you desire to use a composting toilet or outhouse, you will need to first put in a septic-tank / leechfield [even if you never use it].

I have been told many times that once your septic-tank / leechfield are installed, then you may freely go on to using it or any other system you wish to use.



We were looking at some fairly expensive composting toilets at one time. Then that idea got put on a back-burner, as we had to install a septic-tank / leechfield. In the interval we discovered that there are some very inexpensive composting toilets that you can use.

We like composting toilets, as they take much of the burden away from the septic-tank / leechfield.



It is also common to see homes where the black-water and grey-water are separated. Black-water going to the septic-tank / leechfield; and grey-water simply going outside into the forest or garden. This idea also takes some of the work load off of the septic-tank / leechfield.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:33 PM
 
Location: Corinth, ME
2,712 posts, read 3,582,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forest beekeeper View Post
It is also common to see homes where the black-water and grey-water are separated. Black-water going to the septic-tank / leechfield; and grey-water simply going outside into the forest or garden. This idea also takes some of the work load off of the septic-tank / leechfield.
"...and grey-water simply going outside into the forest or garden...."

This may or may not be legal.
You may or may not care...

I have in the past done so, but am not set up for it at present. I am much more careful about what goes in the water that goes to the garden than what goes in the tank.

If I set up to use grey water irrigation in the future I will make sure that batches go into some sort of holding tank, where soap, bleach and dish detergent containing "loads" are further diluted with water from rinse "loads". FWIW I use a home made laundry product that contains equal parts of Fels Naptha soap (an actual soap not a detergent), washing soda (sodium carbonate), baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and borax with a 1/4 c used for a medium load and less for a small one (my washer is small and does not do what would be a normal large load.) I am looking for a soap-based dish washing product but have not yet found anything I can make.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:01 PM
 
Location: Abbot, Maine
821 posts, read 613,936 times
Reputation: 461
I use a septic tank and filters instead of a leech field. I also put my kitchen sink into a 5 gallon bucket buried in stone as a gray water tank. Had my tank pumped when I moved in just so I'd be starting from scratch. It cost $300 last spring.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:37 PM
 
Location: California
41 posts, read 74,025 times
Reputation: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by starwalker View Post
I am looking for a soap-based dish washing product but have not yet found anything I can make.

A friend has this site posted on her website. You might find this recipe could work
Homemade Liquid Dish Soap – That really works!
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:39 PM
 
Location: Corinth, ME
2,712 posts, read 3,582,455 times
Reputation: 1859
Quote:
Originally Posted by SensiblyScented View Post
A friend has this site posted on her website. You might find this recipe could work
Homemade Liquid Dish Soap That really works!
thanks! I'll give it a try soon... just picked up another smallish bottle of the commercial stuff...
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
2,514 posts, read 2,885,110 times
Reputation: 4541
A Septic Tank is a Septic Tank

While still here in RI, we have been on a septic system (tank + leaching field) for many years now. The master bedroom suite (upstairs) was added on after the septic system was installed, on what had been basically a 2-bedroom, 1-bath house. It is now a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house, with the same system. Legal or not, it still works fine. We don't do anything in particular to it, but we do have it pumped maybe every 3 years or so.

Just a nice, easy system to deal with for "country plumbing". Once you're used to it, you'll be comfortable with it.
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