Thursday, October 15, 2009

Septic Complications and LaValley's Credibility

About a year ago when we went through the whole rigmarole of getting the septic designed and approved, it never really dawned on us how important it is to have a floor plan, even though my Mentor kept pounding this point into our head. What's the big deal, we figured. Just put the bathroom here and the kitchen here.

Well, the beauty of hindsight is that it's always 20/20, and in retrospect, we realize how much smoother things would have been, not to mention quicker, if we'd had a floor plan in the beginning. But how were we supposed to know? This is all new to us.

Case in point, the septic system. When the engineer came to the house, he asked us where the pipe would exit the dwelling. How should I know? I just told him out the side, so he designed it accordingly.

Now, of course, we don't want it to go out the side, we want it out the back because of where the toilets are located, as per our fabulous floor plan that we came up with a year after the fact. Anyway, this presented a few problems. First off, the septic tank and leach field are situated on the side. Since the toilets are in the back, we would have to run a pipe either through the floor to the side, or out the back and then along the backside, but outside the house.

The former plan requires a jackhammer to cut a trench through the foundation, then pouring concrete over the pipe, which besides being a pain, seems like a bad idea since you cannot access that pipe. The latter plan is much better, but brings up the problem of angles and distance. As I've learned, you want to minimize/eliminate angles and minimize length, which makes sense when you think of toilet flow. Solids move best in a straight line, and the shorter the distance, the better.

The jackhammer approach would eliminate the angle problem, but not the distance problem. The backside approach would eliminate the need to tear up the foundation, but introduces angles and distance. So what to do? The excavator said to contact the engineer, which I did. And this is what I learned.

He basically said the only two places to exit the house are the back and the side. The main constraints on the pipes and the tank are in relation to driveways and water sources. I.e., moving the tank to minimize angles out the back is allowable, as long as certain restraints are met. There is some degree of leeway in terms of placement, so we are in good shape, I think. I need to confer with the excavator some more, but at least we got a thumbs up from the engineer. Good enough for me. One other concern was the distance, which we thought might be too long, but he said it wouldn't be a problem. Maybe this would all have been simpler if we just installed composting toilets. I still like that idea.

One final note, I finally got approval from LaValley's for our contractor's account. Actually, it's a cash account, meaning it's not an official contractor's acct, but close enough to give me street credibility amongst the real men who shop and work there, and I get a discount. So when I go in there and the mean cashier asks me if I have an account, I can say, "Of course I have an account. Why do you think I shop here? And who died and made and you Grace Kelly?"

That should win me some points. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Marcos Agrelli for the pic.

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