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Old 05-15-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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My wife and I have lived in the big city for most of our lives, but are now looking to move to the pacific northwest. For the money we have to spend on a home, in the areas we are considering, we could either buy a tract home in town or a place that is 5-10 miles out of town. We love the feel of the more rural setting and having lived for years in tract housing so are ready to be done with that, but... we've never lived in a 'water district' that to my understanding consists of wells and holding tanks, nor have we lived in a home that uses a septic tank. To be honest, it scares the c*** out of me! So... one house we're looking at closely is about 15 yrs old and appears to be both built and maintained well, and the septic system was inspected and passed (although I haven't seen the report yet). For those of you with experience in these areas, how much of a concern is this? From what I've read, septics should be checked yearly and of course pumped when necessary. If that is done, how long will they last? If it needs to be replaced, what would the likely cost be? Am I making too much out of this? I appreciate your thoughts!
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Old 05-15-2010, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Stuck in NE GA right now
4,585 posts, read 10,998,630 times
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I live on 10 acres with a well and septic, however, I'm in GA. You might want to cross post in the Oregon forum, as I know Oregon has different laws about water useage etc.
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Old 05-15-2010, 04:41 PM
 
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Septic cost for us: bought a fiberglass 400 gallon septic tank for $300, underground pipes, rented a small backhoe for 1.5 days (rents are about $300 a day, depending if you need delivery and if it's a weekend), dug a hole for the tank and a trench for the pipes. If you hire someone to install septic, it will probably be in thousands. After 7 years, this is the first year we need to pump the tank. We have 4 people in the family.

Well: can be drilled (4-10+ gallons of water per minute), or dug (depends on the depth and ground water level). We dug a well with a larger backhoe, about 10 feet deep, spread gravel on the bottom and stacked 4 cement crocks. Covered with cement lid, filled in around the crocks. Waited until the well fills in, pumped that first water out. Cost of the well: $400 for 4 crocks+top, diesel/fluid for the backhoe.

Cost for the drilled well is around $10/foot, and usually they drill around 200 feet. Then you would need pump/pipes.

The danger with dug wells is that they may go dry in dry summer spells. At first we had a smaller dug well, left over from old homesteaders, - they used it for getting water for cattle. That well would dry up in summers, and water rationing was a bummer.

PS: books on rural living may help to dissuade fears (mind you, I was a life-long metro dweller until 8 years ago). Like this no-nonsense book: http://www.amazon.com/Back-Basics-Co...3960276&sr=1-1

Last edited by nuala; 05-15-2010 at 04:55 PM..
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Old 05-15-2010, 05:49 PM
 
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Don't know about other areas, but here ( rural Minnesota) you can't get a mortgage if there is not a drilled well and at a depth of at least 40 ft.
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Old 05-15-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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Yes, we get away with some of our DIY projects çause don't have a mortgage'...
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Old 05-15-2010, 06:52 PM
 
Location: Illinois
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Septics sometimes fail...but then sewers can back up gray water into your basement. Both of which I have personally experienced. My preference...septic any day.
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:06 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,683,788 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PA00G View Post
My wife and I have lived in the big city for most of our lives, but are now looking to move to the pacific northwest. For the money we have to spend on a home, in the areas we are considering, we could either buy a tract home in town or a place that is 5-10 miles out of town. We love the feel of the more rural setting and having lived for years in tract housing so are ready to be done with that, but... we've never lived in a 'water district' that to my understanding consists of wells and holding tanks, nor have we lived in a home that uses a septic tank. To be honest, it scares the c*** out of me! So... one house we're looking at closely is about 15 yrs old and appears to be both built and maintained well, and the septic system was inspected and passed (although I haven't seen the report yet). For those of you with experience in these areas, how much of a concern is this? From what I've read, septics should be checked yearly and of course pumped when necessary. If that is done, how long will they last? If it needs to be replaced, what would the likely cost be? Am I making too much out of this? I appreciate your thoughts!

you mentioned both --septic tank--and water district.

Doesn't --water district--mean a public water sysyem servicing you.
Thus, you would have private sewer ( septic tank) and public water.

This is very common in areas I have looked at in the SE US.
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:17 PM
 
4,925 posts, read 9,902,953 times
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Lived with my own well and septic in both WA and Oregon. Have to say, though, I wasn't the one that put them in, so I won't be a lot of help there, although I've heard a general cost of new install/total re-do to range from $5-7,500 to have it done, depending upon location and issues.

Now, as far as how worried you ought to be? Not much.

I've lived in one place for 12 years and another for 8 and another off and on for nearly 30...never had to pump a septic tank, or had the first bit of trouble. We are (were) a family of 4. My mother in law is living in a place that had a system installed in the late 1950s, and she's had zero trouble. 9 people were living there until grown and moved. None of us have ever had to have the honey wagon over to pump the tank, either.

I'm convinced that much of how they do is dependent largely upon what you ask it to do. Ask it to take kitchen waste? You'll have a problem. Ask it to digest a boatload of feminine hygiene products? You'll probably have a problem. Don't use a garbage disposal, don't drain kitchen grease down the sink and you'll probably be fine. I've always heard that animal fats are the toughest thing on a septic system. No idea if that's true.

Another issue is where your drainfield is installed. Of course, on on a hillside is great...absolutely flat with little slope, not so much. Not saying it wouldn't work, but not as well as one on a hill. Also, you want to see what kind of vegetation is growing over your fieldlines. Some trees are notorious for their roots following and disrupting fieldlines. So check out that situation.

As far as the well holding up, it depends largely upon what it's tapped into. I've seen wells on neighboring places where one goes dry during a drought year and another doesn't. That is usually a case of different sources at different depths.

Find out your well's depth and how many gallons per minute the well is supposed to produce. Ask the neighbors around the place what their's is and if it's close to the same and you have concerns, ask them if they've ever had years where their well went dry, or low (usually if low you'll start getting sand in your water and discoloration).

Also, depending upon where you are in the PNW, this can be important, especially if you're looking at the dry side of WA or OR...find out what water rights comes with your potential property. One place we had came with 15 acre-feet...in other words, we had the right to irrigation water in the amount of it would to put one acre 15 under water. The amount is usually expressed that way...in acre-feet. In other words, you'd have that amount of water per acre.

I have some people think I'm a little paranoid since I've had good wells, but I've always had my water tested once a year as well, just to make sure something a little goofy hasn't shown up. Never has.

Preferences? I prefer septic and a good well over city water and sewage any time.

Good luck to you! Let us know how it goes.
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:24 PM
 
4,925 posts, read 9,902,953 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
you mentioned both --septic tank--and water district.

Doesn't --water district--mean a public water sysyem servicing you.
Thus, you would have private sewer ( septic tank) and public water.

This is very common in areas I have looked at in the SE US.
Doesn't usually mean the same thing in the PNW. It is usually a reference to an agency that regulates the use and allocation of what is a rare resource-water-in a region where many people are surprised there is a lot of desert. Most of those water districts control water for irrigation purposes, and in the larger, regional scheme of things, often determine how much water cities and towns are going to get. Shoot, the whole Columbia River Basin now is just one big system balancing the competing needs of irrigators, electric producers, fishery advocates and river transportation interests.

My life has been pretty split between the SE US and WA and OR...so I know what you're talking about as well. That's the way it is in much of current area (TN)--public water (or city water as they say here) and septic. In my case, I'm fortunate...septic, city water and 2 of my own wells.
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:29 PM
 
Location: MO Ozarkian in NE Hoosierana
4,679 posts, read 10,952,667 times
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I've had septic or lagoon every one of past 5 houses - all worked great, w/ the proper maintenance,,, like everything, it all takes a bit of knowledge and preventative maintenance. As to water wells, I much prefer the fresh taste of well water over the chlorinated fluorinated treated tasteless stuff out of city water... unless its St Louis' version [which is actually Mississippi River water - which is also what Aquafina uses ]

A few sites of interest on septics:
Home Buyer's Complete Guide to Septic Systems - Buying a Home With a Septic Tank & Drainfield
"Septic Systems"
Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3A-G703_V1rLsJ%3Awww.epa.gov%2Fowm%2Fseptic%2Fpubs%2F homeowner_guide_long.pdf+septic+system+design&hl=e n&gl=us - broken link)

And on wells:
EPA Ground Water & Drinking Water Frequently Asked Questions
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