The Cloaca Maxima

She Says:

So we jumped into this project with both feet.  Not only are we completely renovating this house, we're living in it at the same time.  Because it was a repo, and because it had been sitting unused and unloved for the better part of a year, it wasn't exactly move-in ready, or even live-in ready.

Someone had made off with the air conditioner/heat pump (true story- they just cut the cord and took off with it) (one of the reasons the house was such a "good deal"), so this was on the short list.  But more importantly, the hot water heater was broken and had to be replaced, so there was currently no running water.  But before we tackled any of that, we had to come to grips with this:

She Says: So, do we have city sewer and all that?

He Says: Uh, no Dear.  We live way too far out in the country for that.

She Says: Well, where is the septic system then?

He Says: (looking at strange green lids protruding out of the backyard)  I think this is it...

She Says:  What is that?

He Says:  I.   Don't.   Know.

This was our first introduction to the wonderful world of aerobic sewer systems. 

He Says:

It turns out the system is pretty nice.  It was and is in perfect working order.  Raw waste first travels into a concrete settlement tank, and then into an aerobic treatment chamber.  Aerobic means using oxygen, so indeed there is an air pump above ground that pumps fresh air into this tank.  Since the system  had been sitting idle for over a year, I was worried that the bacteria colony that is supposed to live inside and use the oxygen had died.  I needn't have fretted - aerobic bacteria are literally everywhere.  You don't really have to worry about them, just feed them organic waste and air and they do their thing.

After treatment in the aerobic chamber, the waste water goes (by magic, of course) into the post-treatment chamber.  A critical discovery was the presence of a PVC tube in the post-treatment chamber that was just the right size to hold a stack of swimming pool chlorine tablets.  By flowing the water through this stack of tabs, the aforementioned bacteria are killed and so live ones are only in the aerobic treatment chamber.
When the post-treatment chamber gets full, a float switch turns on a submersible pump inside, and the treated wastewater is pumped out into a system of sprinklers that distribute it.  Initially, these sprinklers were quite close to the house.

So, as long as the system has 120V power going to it to run the air and water pumps, it only needs the settlement tank pumped every 3-5 yrs. at about $200 a pop.  Handles garbage-disposal waste no problem, too, and those bacteria are tough little boogers, so we send the washing machine wastewater down there too.  No problem.

She Says:

There was an incident with the poo sprinklers going off unexpectedly (they're not on a timer or anything, so they just go off whenever the moment strikes them) and pelting someone, who will remain nameless, in the head with poo water.  After that, we dug a trench all the way through the yard and moved the poo sprinklers safely to the tree line, so now the terror of being out in the yard and getting hit with poo water is kept to a minimum.

The House is Going to be Great!

1 comment:

  1. wow! quite an adventure! you have a very cinematographic way of writing, I could see the scene. I hope the poo water comes clean from the sprinklers, no smell, no nothing. just water. nevertheless moving the sprinklers sounds like a great idea :) happy Tuesday sweetie! xxo