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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/6/2010

With the new week, a new crew came up to install the septic tank and the leach field for Tanglewood.

We'd known this was coming for some time, and have been gradually getting both the septic-tank area and the leach-field section ready. We did a perc test a long time ago, so we knew that the area was good and things were ready to begin a couple of weeks back, but the original design was a gravel-bed system that was rather large and which would have required a tremendous amount of gravel (something on the order of 160 tons or something). With this in mind, Engineer John decided to redesign the leach field to better fit the available space, and that delayed everything a bit, but it was well worth it. The new design is both more compact and around $5,000 less in price, which means fewer trees need to be taken down and there's more money in the construction budget for whatever else we'll (most likely) find to spend it on.

The crew trundled up with a big backhoe bright and early this morning to begin their work. They first tackled the septic tank itself, which will go just downhill from Tanglewood where the main septic pipe was already installed by the plumbing guys a couple of weeks back. Digging out the area didn't take them too long at all, with the dirt removed temporarily either being stashed to one side of the road or the other (to eventually go back on top of the tank) or getting put down in the stump dump we'd designated below the firewood pile. Other than working near the house itself, this part didn't take very long at all; once the main trench was dug, the backhoe could work on squaring out the tank area while one of the crew completed the trench to the waste line by hand.

Once this part was done, the backhoe turned around and began digging out the leach field. In order to get a straight shot from the septic tank to the leach field, we unfortunately had to take three trees out; I'd  known this was coming though, and had sadly agreed that there was no other way to do this. Two of the trees were relatively small (a young spruce and a had-a-hard-life cedar), but there was a big pine tree that had to be broken into three pieces for the backhoe to get it out. How the driver did this was actually pretty neat--he knocked it over with the digging arm, then dragged it towards him until it was wedged under the machine itself.  Once there he levered the trunk up until it snapped, lifted the broken bit out of the way, and did it again. Made a godawful noise while it was breaking too--kinda like the snap and pop you get when you cut a tree down, but more "splintery", if that makes sense.

With the trees out of the way, he began doing work digging out and leveling the area where the leach field will go. He wasn't able to finish today--it was fairly late by the time he got to this part in the first place, and there's a lot of excavation work to do for the various levels of the leach lines themselves. My understanding is that the overall field will consist of four rows that gravity-feed from one to the next, built with plastic shells that look something like this. These shells are apparently RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE by the way, and the local supplier is having some problems tracking down enough of them for Tanglewood's leach field (it's fairly large as these things go due to the number of bathrooms in the house), but they have enough to begin laying them in tomorrow at least. 

And that's basically what happened today. Colleen took snapshots and answered questions and refilled the hummingbird feeder when she got a chance, but mostly it was all about the septic and leach-field crew. Tomorrow should see the concrete septic tank come up, more of the leach field excavated, and some of the plastic chambers installed.

Things keep moving fast!

Steven in Colorado Springs


This is where the septic tank went (before the digging started, obviously).
This is where the leach field went (again, before the digging). That big tree there in the center has to go.
Waiting for the backhoe to begin its magic.
The septic installation begins! Note that while he's close to the house, he does maintain a decent-enough distance.
Starting close so the guy with the shovel won't have too much to do by hand.
Closeup of the more delicate work.
Starting on the main tank area now.
Here, he's working on extending the main septic line down from the house to where the tank is going to be.
Taking down the trees between the septic tank and the leach field. Really hated to see that big pine go... :(
Moving down into the leach-field area. This is an unusual shot Colleen got from the hill across the road from Tanglewood.
Looking down at the septic tank hole. Those pipes are for venting and final hookup once they've got the tank in place.
A better shot of the hole from below. Nice and square work here. You can see the waste line coming out of Tanglewood in the trench between the windows.
I don't really know who that is, but here's another shot of the septic excavation anyway.

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