Monthly Archives: March 2013

Septic Tank

We recently purchased a new house, with some land.  Momzoo has posted a lot about the changes that we have made to the new house, and some of the challenges we have had to overcome.

The big one that I had to worry about, besides having no propane when we moved in, would be servicing the septic tank.  Momzoo and I both have had no or little experience with a septic tank.  So we did not give it much of a thought we we purchased the house.

We have had some problems with the toilets flushing since we purchased the house and thought it might be due to the septic tank being full or close to full.  But we have since found out that they used 2 inch pipe instead of 4 inch pipe for the toilet drains.  (I know, not code, and you would of thought, but hey, this is the new house.)

So, to see if that was the problem we needed to find the septic tank access hatch so we could see the level, and then get it pumped.   Problem, where is the hatch?   We looked and looked, and a local company told us to call the County Department of Health, because they document every septic tank in the county.  So I called, and within minutes they emailed me the lot plan with the location of the septic tank.  One problem, it said the hatch was 1 foot under the final grade.  Final grade?  What was the final grade when they inspected it.  Well, the final grade is (as we know now) a good 8 feed under the current grade of the back yard.

Yes, the lid for the septic tank has been buried 8 feet under our back yard.  So the work started.  Our friend and contractor has a mini-ex, so he loaned it to me for a weekend, and I started digging.  With his help, I found the septic tank right where it should be, but instead of 12 inches under ground, it was now 8 feet under ground. IMG_3365
I found the hatch 8 feet under ground. And we now have the issue of raising the hatch so that we can have it serviced and make it easily accessible in the future.

IMG_3333This gives you a little bit of a perspective of how far below ground it really is.  I am 6 foot 3 and this is what I look like in the hole.

So we have a 8 foot 18 inch concrete pipe purchased and delivered to the property.  We then used the mini-ex and a suburban as counter weight to slowly move it into position.

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We slowly moved it into place and then stood it upright.  With a little effort we were able to get it to set into the other pipe.

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Then we cut the top off and put the lid back on.


As a bonus, the end we cut was then moved to another location and we now have a fire pit.  We burned stuff in the fire pit the following weekend.

Moral to the story, when you buy a house, make sure you know where the septic tank is, and have it serviced as part of the pre-contract purchase.  Or, if you are as lucky as we are, you can spend two days digging a hole and installing a new raiser for the tank.  And since the Richards are our friends the cost was minimal.

The next day we had a septic tank company suck out the tank, and we should be in business for at least a couple of years.  A family of 9 will fill a 1750 gallon tank in about 2.5 years, well at least that is what the Internet tells me.

Water Collection

Water it is precious and scarce.

Out here in the edge of Utah’s west desert where we get on average 10 inches of water a year, and the majority of that comes in the winter as snow, water is a big deal, and irrigation is a must.  There are two options as far as irrigation, the government grid or a private well.  With a private well you have to own water rights, which are expensive and hard to come by, as people who own them tend to hang onto them.  We don’t have any water rights, (some ding dong sold the water rights associated to the property when they hooked up to the city’s grid) which means we are on city water, for everything.  Another viable option is water collection, while it won’t supply all our irrigation needs, it will help some.

We have a lot of roof, which collects a lot of water,

that just runs off, it is  begging to be collected!

We purchased barrels from a local farm store, they had been previously used for pickling, so they smell strongly of peppers and brine, they will work for our needs and they were cheap.

Dadzoo cut a hole in the tops of the barrels and then attached screen, to keep bugs and big yucky things from getting into the water.

He then gut off the down spout and attached black flex pipe, to direct the water into the hole on top.

He then cut a hole on the top side of the barrel, and using a piece of vinyl that we found lying around he made a spout that directed more water into another barrel, so we can collect more than one barrel full at each down spout.After one day we had filled the first barrel, and the second one is slowly filling, we hope to have it filled by this weekend, as there is rain in the forecast.

While this won’t fill all our needs for irrigation, along with other techniques, we are hoping to minimize the amount of water we are pulling from the grid as much as possible.

In some states it is illegal to collect rain water, being that it is a natural resource (although I don’t see states coming and collecting their water when it floods basements…..).  Here in Utah it is legal to collect a certain amount of water in either above ground tanks or a cistern, all vessels that collect water have to be registred with the state.