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Septic Systems and Pumps


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Cheryl's Forum Posts: 28

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By Cheryl in Brooksville, FL on 7/5/2006


My husband and I will be building soon in Florida. Our property will require a septic mound for the drainfield. We have three options to make everything flow properly through the septic system and I'm not sure which route is the best way to go. 

Option 1: Build the house at the current ground level. Install the septic tank in the ground below the level of the house. Put in a sump pump (or would it be an ejector pump?) to pump the water from the septic tank into the drainfield. This is probably the cheapest route short-term, but, I'm not sure how the pump would effect our electric bill and the long-term maintenance costs of a septic pump.

Option 2: We can haul in dirt and build our house on a mound of dirt. Our septic tank would sit at the current ground level, putting it below the house, and feed into the drainfield. No pump would be required. This option is the next-in-price option, but I don't really want my house sitting on a mound of dirt. There are many houses in this area that do that (including our current house) and I just don't like the look, so I'm pretty much ruling out this option.

Option 3: Build a stem wall for the house, fill it with dirt, then pour concrete slab. OR, we could have a crawl space with floor joists, however my husband is concerned with termites getting to the floor. This option would put the house up above the septic, the same as in option 2. This is probably the most expensive option.

Any suggestions or comments regarding these different systems or maybe some other alternative that we don't know about?

Thanks,

Cheryl


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By Scott in Wanatah, IN on 7/6/2006


Hi Cheryl:

Our old house was in the similar situation you are going to be in. We had a very high water table and therefore needed a mound system with a lift station. I see your dislike for having a home up on a mound. We are designing our new house that is basically going to have a walkout in the back from the basement. I do not want the ejector or the lift station. Not only the cost, but the maintenance. These are rated as 'trash' pumps, which allows them to pump solids. But they must first grind it up to make the solids 'flocculant' and therefore pumpable. Anything and everything that goes down the drain must be pumped out to the field.

The cost is one factor. These pumps are not cheap, and you can imagine what you go through to replace them. I went through 3 in 10 years due to failures, lighting strikes, kids flushing things down the toilets, etc. I was only able to stomach it on the last replacement and do it myself. That saved me $500. The pump was about $500 as well. Don't skimp on the pump, either. Get the very best you can now, because you don't want to have to crawl in the pit to replace it later. It will go out on you at the worst times, e.g. open houses, and family get-togethers. When everyone needs to use the washroom.

I guess what I am saying is be sure to explore all your options in the home design. Your designer may have a way to make your home lend itself to a hill. There are many ways to have your house on a 'mound' and not make it look so. With landscaping and retaining walls, decks, etc. Just my personal experience and I hope this helps. Good luck.

Here is a good article with info:

epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/mound.pdf


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 7/6/2006


Don't make the decision based only on the septic system. Look at the house as an entire system and design to the entire system. There are some unique challenges to placing your house on a crawlspace foundation (option #3) in the hot humid south that must be considered (crawlspace needs to be conditioned, tight, non-ventilating), and you don't want to make decisions with far-reaching ramifications based on your septic system alone.

For me, I would elevate the house to the proper level and let gravity do what it does best (option #2). This also gives you enough elevation change to adequately drain rainwater, footing tile drains, etc. to daylight, again eliminating a pump and reducing a potential future moisture problem. Your landscaping can pretty much hide your elevation difference. You mention that other houses in your area are built this way, making it somewhat a potential standard that your house will be compared with at a point in the future when it's time to sell.


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