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Old 04-13-2011, 12:26 PM
zzotto21 zzotto21 is offline
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Default Septic System in Clay??? Help!


Just purchased property in WV. We have been looking for a spot on the property to "perc" but to no avail.

Does anyone have any suggestions about the right septic system for clay soil? There has to be something I can do.....


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Old 04-13-2011, 01:00 PM
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MissouriFree MissouriFree is offline
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We got high clay in Missouri also. There are ways such as pretrreat thru sand filters and even lagoons. I would suggest you go to your state web site or the univeristy extension site. They usually got lots of info unique to you area.

for example here is the MO extension sevice . it has a wealth of info.

Hope it helps you

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Old 04-13-2011, 01:21 PM
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Catalpa Catalpa is offline
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We have a lot of clay here, too, with a high water table. Code requires 18" between the bottom of the septic system and the clay and/or water table, so we simply make sand mounds.

It takes a lot of sand and can get pretty expensive, but it does work. Depending on the soil structure we may or may not take off all the topsoil, but you do have to remove any vegetation. Then a chisel plow or frost tooth is used to cut clean, coarse sand into the subsoil, and then the sand mound is built over the prepared area. The distribution pipes are laid in stone-filled trenches that are dug into the sand mound. By the time all is said and done, it takes up quite an area, usually about 60' x 110', but it does work and is still cheaper than the pre-treatment, alternative systems that need pumps and filters and what-not. If you're squeezed for space, if 2nS sand or clean 6A stone are hard to get in your area, or if slope is an issue, you may need to look for alternatives. Do a little googling on 'small flows', 'eljen' and 'zabel' for more info.

Your local extension service and health department will have a lot of info for you, but when you talk to the government, always speak in generalities and just ask for typical guidelines or a copy of the local code. See what their attitude is before you get specific.

Remember that if you do look at using a typical sand mound system that you will have to build your house higher above natural grade than normal, to gravity feed the system. Effluent pumps are reliable and fairly easy to take care of, but why introduce an electrial-dependent complexity to the system if you don't have to?

Also make sure to plan ahead and direct all surface water runoff, sump pump discharge, water softener discharge, and eavetroughs away from your system location. Make sure the system will be located where it won't get driven on, parked on, or otherwise mistreated. And never, never, never ever use rid-x or other additives. They'll kill the system.
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:11 PM
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S2man S2man is offline
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We've got heavy clay in my part of Missouri, too. Everyone around here has sewage lagoons. Saw them in Kentucky, too. Though there, the issue was usually the opposite; Effluent running right down through cracks in the limestone and into the ground water.

There is also a system for secondary treatment, after the septic tank, which uses beds of various plants to absorb the nutrients before the water is finally released as surface water. So many sq. yards of man-made swamp per person. Supposedly clean enough to drink

I can't remember the name of these systems, though. If your health dept. is not familiar with them, you may have a hard time getting one approved. Perhaps on an experimental basis, though, if you have enough documentation on their design. Tell them it is bioremediation
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:14 PM
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CarolAnn Female CarolAnn is offline
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My sis had that. They put in a mound system here in Wisconsin. If you Google it, you'll get some results:

The size of the system is determined by the size of your septic tank & how many people are using it. My sister's is a long way down the hill away from the house (and away from their well, also) - and it is actually a build-up mound with the leach pipes running through it. She's got it planted with perennials and wild flowers so it's actually a nice feature to the back of their yard. Placement near neighbors is an issue - she's lucky not to have anyone close to theirs.
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:55 PM
cinok Male cinok is offline
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Just need to ask, do you a stipulation in your contract to get yourmoney back if the land doesnt perc. Personnally I would never never buy a peice of land without a perc test. As others have said there a ways around a piece of land that will not perc but the costs are very high.
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Old 04-25-2011, 09:53 PM
chrisser Male chrisser is offline
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This probably isn't for everyone, but we're closing on some property in WV at the end of the week.

Don't know if it will pass a perc test, but we went in knowing it might not. We will own the south face and floor of a valley, so if we can't guarantee that our septic system will be 100% reliable, then all we'll end up doing is polluting our pond at the bottom of the valley.

So we've been looking into a composting toilet system - preferably solar augmented. It's a little more fuss to deal with when making your "deposits", but you end up with a steady stream of compost, and as a side benefit, you use way less water, which is a concern of ours.

Might be a solution. We're assuming that's what we'll need, even if the perc test works out because, in the short term, we're not going to sink $5-10k into the property for septic until we're ready to build on it.
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