Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oct. 2010: Septic system, part 2

My folks had rented a hotel room for the next several days. I rode into Belfast with them (about a 20 minute drive) to have dinner and take a shower. A hot shower is such a luxury when you do not have one at your convenience! When staying at the house sculpture I take sponge baths with water heated on the stove. After this visit, I am much closer to having a hot shower at home. I still have yet to sculpt a shower stall..
I stayed at the hotel that night with my folks. When we awoke the next morning it was pouring rain. It continued to rain after we had arrived at the house. It put me in a lousy mood and I did not feel like working but Mom and Dad seemed determined to get some shit done. Two projects were high on my list of priorities. One was to assemble all of the 4" waste pipe underneath the house. The other was to level the bed for the septic tank which needed to be finished today as the tank would be delivered the next morning. I had already dug the pit, but it needed sand to be thrown in to make a level 6'X8' bed. Thanks to the rain the pit now had about a foot of standing water, so I suggested we work on the waste line and wait until later in the day when the rain might let up. That was all my Dad needed to hear. He immediately went outside and crawled under the house. It was still pouring outside and there was mud everywhere. As dirty a job it is to be crawling around under the house it was at least dry. So we assessed the situation, figured out what we needed to do and got to work. I knew where the 3" line from the bathroom would need to exit the floor to the underside of the house and meet the 4"pipe so we started there and ran the pipes on around to the center of the house and aimed them toward the septic tank some 40 or so feet away. We added a T in the line so that we could connect a waste line running from the kitchen which we also hung. We pitched the line at 1/4" per foot which is standard code. After a couple of hours all the pipe had been hung and Mom had a delicious lunch ready for us. We were covered with dirt. The combination of getting wet with rain and then crawling around in the dry dust under the house outfitted each of us with a thorough coating of mud.
The rain was letting a bit after lunch so we decided to make the pit ready to receive the tank. My folks were all into doing the dirty work of standing in the pit raking while I dumped in sand with the tractor. The standing water in the hole actually helped determine a level grade. After awhile a nice bed had been made and we were ready for the tank.
I stayed at the house that night and met the truck delivering the tank early the next morning. It was a huge truck with a hydraulic lift off the back. The driver was good. He backed his truck all the way up my driveway and up to the hole. By remote, the driver used the lift to pick the 2 ton cement tank off the truck and set it gently on it's level bed of sand.
With the tank in place it was time to build the drainage field. We set to work leveling each course with sand and setting in three 10ft. sections for each of the five courses to make a total of 150ft.. Each course ran at 4" graduated elevations which we were able to determine with the site leveler. It took us a couple of days to install all the enviroseptic lines. When the pipes were in their places we capped and linked them together with 4"pipe. Last, we joined the drainage field to the septic tank and the tank to the house.
Now it was time to call Randy the inspector to come out and take a look.
Randy would come by the next morning so it the meantime my Dad and I turned our attention to the roof of the house. During the recent rain storm the house had showed some leaks. Eventually we made an educated guess as to where the water was getting in and made the necessary repairs.
The next day Randy came out and measured our work against the nail in the fir tree. All was good! We had passed inspection and were ready to backfill. The entire system needed to be buried 18" deep from the top of the drainage pipe. We had some sand left so we buried the drainage area, but only just barely. There would need to be much more backfill later. For now this visit had come to it's end.
It was time for a sad farewell to my folks who were flying back to Oregon the next morning. I am always amazed at my parent's willingness to travel such a long distance and do so much physical work for the sake of me and this little shack in the woods. For myself, I decided that I was done too. I was tired and missed my wife and needed to be back at work on the Cape. As always, leaving my little haven in the woods was a painful experience. I've invested so much of myself in this thing and in the process have grown very close to my parents. Now at three years into this project, I care so much for what of myself and my family it embodies, I can't help but tear up with sadness every time I must leave.

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