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Old 02-01-2009, 07:38 PM
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Default Build a survival septic system?



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I haven't thought about this before, and now that I am thinking about it I'm not to sure how I'd do it.

How would a person move into a new location, and using only minimal tools and materials, create a viable septic system?

A modern tank is cement compose of two tanks, with solids in one tank, and only liquid in the other, then the liquid is dispered in a drain feild ( a long pipe with holes in it).

I guess digging deeper holes, and lining with wood to maintain the shape so it doesn't collapse? Instead of a pipe with holes for the drain feild, I suppose a slopped trench could be dug, filled with larger rocks, and covered with wood or other material to keep the trench from filling with dirt.

Any ideas?

Last edited by Sprig; 02-01-2009 at 07:40 PM.. Reason: clarity
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:49 PM
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For short to medium term I'd use a chemical toilet and just bury the waste in a trench. Longer term, you're on the right track. If the ground is fairly permiable, you can stack hollow concrete blocks in a circle in a 5 or 6 foot hole and let the liquid move through the gaps in the blocks into the surrounding earth.

A spetic tank can be a single compartment if you use a tee with a drop on both the inlet from the house and the outlet to the disposal field.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:49 PM
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i have seen people use 55 gal drums to make a "makeshift" septic system. You could put one in and another a short distance away to handle "the load" no pun intended.
Old 02-01-2009, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprig View Post
I haven't thought about this, and I'm not to sure how I'd do it.

How would a person move into a new location, and using only minimal tools and materials, create a viable septic system?

A modern tank is cement compose of two tanks, with solids in one tank, and only liquid in the other, then the liquid is dispered in a drain feild ( a long pipe with holes in it).

I guess digging deeper holes, and lining with wood to maintain the shape so it doesn't collapse? Instead of a pipe, I suppose a slopped trench could be dug, filled with larger rocks, and covered with wood or other material to keep the trench from filling with dirt.

Any ideas?
What you describe is called a cesspool. I dug a hole 6x6 feet 4 feet deep to make a septic system using plastic 55 gallon drums. I used a chainsaw to put vertical slit in the barrels 4-6 inches apart and 9-12 inches long. Half way up from the bottom of both barrels. using 4" PVC pipe I cut a small hole in the top of one of the barrel for a input connection (with a 18" piece of pipe going straight down from ground level when covered}.
Then using 3 feet of 4" PVC I joined both barrels by cutting a hole in the side 4 inched below the top of both barrels. I then lined both barrels with a pickup load of rock stacked along side them. I covered the barrels with tar paper and backfilled the hole. Not bad after 15 years with no problems from laundry, toilet, showers to doing dishes. Best part the County did not get any money from me.

Last edited by greenhorn; 02-01-2009 at 08:00 PM.. Reason: typos
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:52 PM
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When I was a kid I don't remember cement type septic tanks. We had cess-pools.
These were wooden built out of redwood with a 12-16 ft. leach field to drain the liquids off .
When it was time to empty them , you took the top off , climbed down inside with a shovel and a bucket.
When you had dug all the solids out you put the top back on, covered with a foot of dirt. Then you were good to go for a few more years.
When it's time to dig them out it's good to have teenagers in the flock.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:11 PM
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what about an outhouse? i got one
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:31 PM
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what about an outhouse? i got one
Septic hide in the ground, do no bring in critters and flys. Is probally more sanitary for containment of cholorea disteria and other things I want no part of.
If installed in a good location away from your water supply at least 75 feet you will not have to worry about "Septic Migration". The contents in the soil ripen and can contaminate water over a extended period of time the soil will leech over a area underground. The amount of "septic Migration" is determined by soil content (ie rocks sand soil size is relivent on this}. Also the septic design influences this.
Old 02-01-2009, 09:42 PM
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I think it is called an outhouse.
Old 02-01-2009, 09:48 PM
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Compost the poop, recycle the grey water into structural crops like bamboo or gourds.
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:01 PM
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Bought the place I'm in back in 1990 with a septic in place. If you're wanting to put one in I'd suggest the new type that has chambers instead of laterals as it is easier, takes up less space and less maintenance.

http://www.thenaturalhome.com/septic.html
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:16 PM
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Default sawdust toilet

This is not what you want to hear, but, most states and counties have health codes that will preclude you from "legally" building and using a cesspools, so you might check before digging, read that as avoiding a fine, and subsequent periodic inspection.

More regulations will probably preclude you from using one of the smaller 300ish gallon single chamber tanks. Unfortunately large over sized systems are dictated as your local bureaucracy wants uniformity, one system that will handle a large family.

There are several solutions to your problem, mostly all are expensive, and have some bureaucratic snags.. Incinerating toilets at about 1800 bucks, composting toilets a little cheaper, all still expensive.

I built a small "temporary" septic system, a buried tank (55 gallon barrel) with a short lateral line to allow the use of my travel trailer as a home base while building at my B.O.L. Since I had to haul all my water to the site, the system was plenty adequate for that application. Your experience will surely be different. Note, it worked fine for my limited use, but was surely not "code" compliant.

Depending on how far out in the woods you plan to live you may get away with less.

I recommend you look into building a "saw dust toilet", it will cost you about 50 bucks if you use new materials. Do a Google image search for sawdust toilet to get the idea, very simple. You can download the humanure handbook and find construction plans there. A saw dust toilet is essentially a wooden, or other material, box constructed with a toilet seat on top and a 5 gallon bucket below. Sawdust, peat moss, or even dirt can be used to cover the waste which eliminates odor. Once full the waste is dumped, and allowed to compost until all pathogens are killed. I use a series of plastic barrels with holes for air circulation. Barrels are filled consecutively until the first barrel has been composting long enough to kill the pathogens before being used to fertilize trees and the like. This system is cheap, reliable and odorless.
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Old 02-01-2009, 11:31 PM
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Your sawdust toilet sounds like a human version of a cat litter pan.

I wonder ... what about using kitty litter? It's Kaolin clay after all and very absorbent. Has anyone tried this technique?
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Old 02-01-2009, 11:44 PM
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Default ideas about cat litter

Cat litter would work for a short term situation, but... Maybe you could use it (cat liter) for a weekend toilet for solid waste, use a plastic bag liner in the bucket, cover waste with cat litter and dump the bag in the dumpster when done.

The saw dust toilet is more sustainable for long term use because the waste is composted. Cat liter will make a nasty mess once it gets soaked. Either way, the basic box, lid, seat etc. would make a good building block. The cat litter idea may not be a bad way to go for a an apartment dweller without facilities for a weekend. I would probably only use it with solid waste as adding liquids would make a heavy clay mess in the bucket.

For those less mechanically inclined, buying either a luggable loo about 20 bucks at sporting goods stores, or one of the reliance brand hassock toilets (about 22 bucks at wal-mart) will get you set up.
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Old 02-01-2009, 11:50 PM
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Most folks who live in the country already have a septic system, we do. It is a fairly trouble free set up and as long as you get it cleaned out every few years.
One thing I found to really stretch the time between pumpings is to use liquid laundry detergent. Powdered detergents are mostly fillers that load up the tank quicker than about anything else that goes in there.
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:16 AM
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Don't run the laundry in, period. Synthetic fibers are a big reason leachfields fail. The fiber blocks the drainholes and never decomposes. At the very least, use a lint trap on your washer drain hose.

For all the trouble this is, I'd much rather just go in a bucket and chuck it out on the surface. Cholera, disease? Don't play in it-you won't have to keep me out of it anyway, as I want nowhere near it. The sun and weather will decompose anything, given enough time. We aren't cat's, you've just been trained that your poop belongs underground. Some will bring up third wold countries, but that is stuff you see in the streets and and gutters, which flows into waterways. Me, I'd rather just chuck it out in the field and be done with it. Ever dig a pit big enough for a septic by hand? Not something I'll be thinking about should something happen. There'll be much more pressing issues. This goes right along with the charmin stock piling. You'd think some people are going to have literal physical withdrawal from paper toilet products. It just came out of YOU. Get a scrap of a rag and do your thing, wash your hands, done. It's not bio warfare material, simple soap and water will do the trick.

Oh yeah, and who's going to dig/pump your conventional septic every few years?
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:54 AM
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Good point on the filter for fibers....
Okay where are my rubber boots, gloves, bucket and shovel. It's a dirty job but someone gotta do it...LOL
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:09 AM
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Good advice about the detergent (liquid vs powder), less residue.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:32 AM
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The place where we go to camp has an outhouse. Have used lime to put on the top each time we use it. works fantastic. No smell, and it eats up the "stuff" and you can shovel it out a couple of years later and it consists of nothing but what looks like soil. And that "soil" we just bury in another location. Its all powdered by then.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:13 AM
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The place where we go to camp has an outhouse. Have used lime to put on the top each time we use it. works fantastic. No smell, and it eats up the "stuff" and you can shovel it out a couple of years later and it consists of nothing but what looks like soil. And that "soil" we just bury in another location. Its all powdered by then.
Here too re: lime. I prep lime for this use as well as other unpleasant septic chores that might come up in a disaster.
Old 12-11-2012, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by shadow61 View Post
i have seen people use 55 gal drums to make a "makeshift" septic system. You could put one in and another a short distance away to handle "the load" no pun intended.

That's how grandpa built ours back in 63 2 stacked on top of each other. Still use it today, and it's never been pumped.
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