Return to the Plumbing Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

Posted by live_wire_oak (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 14, 07 at 23:29

I'm peeved. Our system is as old as the house (1974) and has never had a single issue. We're on 5 acres, and there is plenty of room for the leach field, and even an alternative should that one go bad. The county still approves septic systems for those not in a municipality. There isn't a single health or functionality issue that would cause them to mandate a sewer hookup. The issue is $$, and the $$ they aren't collecting that would go to fund the improvement of the planned county wide treatment facility. I'm sure some of the other 400 odd folks that were served with the notice will probably see if city hall can be fought on this, but this is a small town, and that type of thing is squashed flat by good ole boy politics.

So, there is a question here (after the rant). I know that I need to call for estimates, but if anyone else has had to have this done, I'd appreciate a heads up on the costs associated with it. The connection is probably 200' from the current tank, but it's not exactly a straight run. The tank is directly behind the house at the rear, while the sewer connection is on the opposite side of the house in the front next to the street. The cleanout for the sewer is located at the side of the house, but I have no idea where the main house drain is. Is the main drain going to the septic usually close to the cleanout plug? The cleanout is closer to the start of the leach field than the septic tank, if that info helps. I know, call some plumbers for estimates. They're probably going to be so busy, it'll take a good while to get back to us on this, and I am just trying to get an idea of if this is a hundreds, thousands, or many thousands type of job.

Do you think if I agreed to pay the monthly sewer fee that they'd go away and leave me in peace without connecting?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

A small town near me about 10 yrs. ago went through the same thing. The only way to make their new system pay was to have everyone hooked up. A older woman was in your situation expect her system was only a few years old. I can't remember the outcome exactly, but it wasn't in her favor. I think you'll get charged for a hookup fee and probably the monthly minimum sewer charge even if you aren't hooked up. Eventually,if they are tough group, you'll get forced to hook on under some health order.
That being said, if you are to hook up, I would try to reroute the main sewer pipe in your cellar to exit the house closest to where you hook on to the city/town sewer. It's cheaper to do it inside where you don't have to dig. If you can get that much done you will have a start. Will they allow you to have the sewer pipe installed outside your home and the city do the final hookup to the street main? If so, and if you are handy and have friends to help, I would suggest you try to lay the pipe yourself.
Hire a backhoe by the hour, buy the correct pipe after checking with the town on type and size and you should be able to do it for about 1/3 the cost of a contractor. Of course if there's rock and ledge on your property, things will get expensive fast.
Check to see what the town wants and then ask around for an experience backhoe operator. Often the operator has done dozens of these. Usually if you get a good guy, he will more than operate the backhoe. He will guide you along.
This is not rocket science....sh*t runs downhill. Find out at what depth the city wants to make the connection at the street, find out the depth the pipe will exit your house and do some calculation for pitch.
The normal pipe such as this is going to be 4" either PVC, or SDR35. The pitch will be about 1/8th -1/4" per foot unless your house sits on a hill and then, of course, it will have to have a much greater pitch.


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

And don't fall for the old myth that some pitches steeper than 1/8" per foot will cause the solids to stop and clog the pipe. If solids will move at 1/8" per foot pitch, why would they stop at 1/2" per foot, for example?


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

Thanks for the DIY idea. It had definately crossed our minds. However, we're on slab, no basement, and as I said, I don't know exactly where the main house drain exits the home into the septic. I'm thinking that a ?pumping station? might have to be involved since I don't think it's a straight run. More like and L shaped is what I'm thinking. If the main drain exists the rear of the house, and not the corner by the side where it would be a straight shot to the front, then it would have to have an "L" leg to be able to get to the street. Anything but a straight run will have to have some sort of pump, right? Or is there a method whereby enough gentle turns would work OK? I do have some room, as it's 200 feet to the street from the rear of the house, but it's complicated by the fact that a couple of older trees might be in the way.

I'm not at all adverse to DIY. I've done a LOT and own a LOT of tools. I just want to be sure that my toilets continue to flush and everything else works as seamlessly as it has for the last 30 years. If I had septic problems like my neighbor who has already hooked up, this wouldn't be such a sore spot for me. But our system is perfecly fine.


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

there should be a cleanout between the house and the tank, roughly 3 ft out from the exterior wall of the house. this is your main line. if you can go from there and then turn toward the street, it should be ok. at each place where there is a change in direction of 45 degree or more you must have a clean out.

at our old house, the drain came out the back of the house, turned and went the back wall, then turned and went down the side to the street. this resulted in the flow changing direction by 180 begrees, it started out from each fixture heading south, then turned east, then finally north. never had a problem with it other than the fact that my dog loved dropping his tennis balls in the busted cleanout.

i am no plumber, so i am giving advice only on my own experience and what i have read here.


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

"You cant fight City Hall"

I tried when I was forced onto a sewer system about 8 years ago. When I complained at the council meeting, they just told me that if I didnt hook up, I could be fined and then eventually jailed for non-compliance. They told me there was precedence in NJ where people HAD gone to jail for not hooking up. (Not sure that I believe them, but wasnt going to call their bluff and an atty would have cost more than my hookup costs).
I live near the largest lake in NJ, and septic runoff is killing the lake, so at least they have a good reason.
If you look at the costs of a sewer system per year and then figure out how much it costs to replace a septic every 30 years or so, it really is about a wash and depending on where you live, a sewer hookup increases the value of your house compared to the next town that is still on septic. Your septic was likely near the end of its service life anyway. You are lucky, I had a neighbor that dumped 30k into a new septic less than a year prior and then were forced to hook-up to sewer and backfill their new septic system. They knew sewers were coming, but didnt know when and couldnt live in the house anymore with a failed septic.

I paid about $1500 for a straight trench about 60 ft long including hookup and backfilling the septic. My house is higher than the sewer pipe under the road, so I didnt need a grinder pump. That can get expensive. Start getting quotes now, before everybody else books them and they increase their prices. Ask them about DIYing the trench, etc, because they may not be interested in doing just part of the job if they have lots of jobs that are bigger and more money.


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

There are a number of important points in this question so let us take them one at a time:

1. As a rule whenever a municipality extends its sewer infrastructure into an area that formerly only had septic tanks they charge each respective property owner the initial hookup fee to help offset the cost of the expansion. Some jurisdictions may mandate that you actually make the hookup at that time but as a rule they do not. What they actually do is mandate that after a specific date you may continue to use your septic tank system providing it is operating in a normal manner however you may not perform any maintenance on that system after that date. In the event the septic tank system would fail for any reason you would then be required to take the necessary steps to remove or abandon that septic tank and make the actual hookup to the municipal sewer. At this time the property owner would be responsible for the cost of running the line from the structure to the municipal main but you will not be charged the hookup fee because you already paid it.
2. By code definition the "House Main Drain" is the main line running inside the confines of the structure. The "House Sewer" is the line that runs from the structure to the septic tank or municipal sewer main. Code requires that we must install a "Main cleanout" at the junction of the House Main Drain & the House Sewer and generally that point is to be within 3 of the house footer wall. For structures with a basement the main cleanout can be found immediately inside the wall where the sewer enters the structure. For structures on slab the main cleanout can be found approximately 3 outside the footer wall. For structures with a crawlspace they may choose to use either location. There are two methods commonly used to make an exterior cleanout. The most common method is to install a "Rodding Tee" on the horizontal line then extend a vertical line up to finished grade and cap the top of the riser. (Note- A "Rodding Tee is a specialized sanitary tee that has a radius curve in both directions to permit rodding, or snaking if you prefer, in both the upstream and downstream directions. This is the only type of Tee that may be installed on a horizontal line.). The second option is to install a Wye & 1/8 bend or Combo on the line with the side inlet pointing in the downstream direction and immediately downstream of that point a second Wye & 1/8 bend or Combo is installed with the side opening pointing in the upstream directions. A riser is then attached to each and extended up to finished grade and capped. It should be noted that these risers are installed long before the finished gradework and landscaping is done so the top of the risers are set at the theoretical finished grade elevation. In actual practice these risers may be slightly covered during the final gradework but in any case they should be within 3" to 6" of the surface. To locate the cleanouts first determine approximately where the line should run then lightly probe the soil until you find the cleanout cap. In the trade we often use a commercially manufactured probe that has a wooden tee handle and about a 4 shaft of 3/8dia. Fiberglass rod with a small metal tip on the end however the same thing can be achieved with a piece of " or 3/8" steel rod, a long screwdriver or even a common gardening hand trowel.
3. To determine whether or not you will require a sewage ejector pump you must first locate the cleanout, then determine the depth elevation of your house main drain line. You must then figure out the actual run of the pipe from the cleanout to the point where it will tie in to the municipal sewer. Once you know the actual linear footage of pipe you can compute the required pitch drop for the run. A 4" line is required to have a minimum pitch of 1/8" (0.125" per foot) per foot of run. Multiply the actual length of the pipe x 0.125" and that will yield the total drop required for the run. By example, you estimate your run is 200 so the required drop would be 200 x 0.125" = 25". In this instance if the depth of the municipal main is 25" or more deeper than the elevation of your house sewer line you can achieve proper flow by means of gravity alone and no pump would be required.
4. Additional cleanouts will be required at not more than 100 intervals.
5. Under the International Residential Code you are required to have a cleanout at each point where the line makes a change in direction equal to or greater than 45deg.
6. Under the Uniform Plumbing Code you are required an additional cleanout whenever the combined total of all changes in direction equal 135deg. (I.E. A 90deg & a 45deg elbow equals 135deg of change or 3 consecutive 45s would equal a total of 135deg of change.)
7. You stated in your post that you had considered using SDR-35 pipe. While SDR-35 pipe is code approved in some jurisdictions in my personal opinion this would be a false economy. A 4" sched.40 pipe has a wall thickness of 0.237" or just slightly less than " (o.25"). By contrast SDR pipe wall thickness is computed by dividing the pipe diameter by the SDR number thus a 4" SDR-35 pipe would have a wall thickness equal to 4" / 35 = 0.114" or approximately 1/8". You also stated that you have a couple trees near where the pipe will run. The increase wall thickness of the sched.40 pipe makes it much more resistant to breakage from tree roots. In addition, while the sched.40 pipe has all glues joints which make the intrusion of tree roots nearly impossible the SDR-35 pipe uses end bell slip joints which may or may not have a rubber gasket, but in either case micro-fine hair like tree roots can penetrate the joints and as the grow they will clog the line and break the pipe. When one factors in the actual cost of the pipe compared to the cost of trenching in my opinion it is a false economy to select the SDR-35 pipe.


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

Thanks for the input. If I were to DIY it, I'd definately do it right the first time. No poiint in doing anything else.

Just to clarify. The septic tank is on the south side of the house at the rear. The cleanout is on the southwest corner of the house. The leach field is to the southwest of the house. The sewer connection is north northwest to the house. If indeed the main sewer exit to the house is right there close to the cleanout and not "behind" the house, then it would be a relatively simple diagonal run of about 200' to the hookup stub out. If the sewer pipe exits on the actual south side, then that's where the dipsy doodle roundabout type of installation might need to occur. I'm unclear on exactly how to figure out where the main drain exits the home, but I get that it's in the vicinity of the cleanout. Should I get out my shovel and do some exploring when the temps come back up to "normal" next week? Or would the pipe be located so deep that this would be a major gruntpower endeavor? I'm located in North Mississippi, close to the Tennessee state line if that's of any help to anyone in determining possible depths of anything here and what codes I might fall under.

The biggest obstacle is that the city water supply pipe runs through that area somewhere. THe original well to the home was also at the rear, and right before we bought the house 15 years ago, the owners hooked up to city water by coming from the street all the way around the house to attach to where the incoming supply from the well was located. I'm pretty sure they didn't bury any "locator wire" or anything with it that would help us find it and not cut it to smithereens when we dug. I'm sure of that because when we broke ground for our shop addition close to where the old well was located, we had all the utilities sniffed out, and still managed to hit the incoming house main because it was closer to the construction than we thought and it wasn't "locatable" by the utility guys. So, it's more complicated. I do have plenty of 3/4" couplings and pipe on hand should this become an emergency situation, but I sure would hate to deploy it all.

How large a trencher would need to be used in order to trench for the sewer pipe? I've rented the smaller ones when I put in a bunch of outdoor spigots a few years ago, but from the comments, I'm assuming that a trencher may not be adequate for this job. I own a real small tractor (NOT a lawn tractor) and probably have good enough brain cells to operate a rental backhoe, but I'm a bit leery of that because my inexperience would probably equate to enough rental time that I could have purchased the services of a professional operator to do the job more quickly, and perhaps more "correctly".

Right now I have a call into a locally owned company that's been around a good while and whom I trust not to gouge because of the situation. They've been very helpful to the local animal shelter where I volunteer and have given them lots of free services and helped out with sponsoring a kennel. It's the least I can do to support such a business, especially if they can do the job quickly and efficiently.


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

live wire, i am south of you a little, in Greenville. Call you local health department, they are the ones that had to approve the septic in the first place. they may still have the plans on file, mine were not, but you never know.

your area is going to be a lot like mine, no frost line. so the depth at the exit of the house will likely not be more than a foot or two. mine the waste pipe itself is around 14 inches, and the cleanout sticks up to just a couple inches below grade on one system. the other septic system we have for teh bathrooms, well in almost 3 years i still ain't found the cleanout!

a rental trencher is really all you need. you may have to dig wider at the connection points, but for the main run the trencher's width is all you need as long as it is at least as wide as your pipe. around here most of the rentals will dig a 8-10 inch wide trench, and that is all you need. i am probably going ot rent one myself later this summer to replace a crushed line in my leech field.

most sewers mains i have seen in my area are around 4 ft down, so you may be okay with out any type of pump.

BTW, barring a local code it is perfectly legal int eh state of MS to do all your own work on your drain and/or septic system yourself. septic installs require a permit from teh DOH, but legally you can do the work.


 o
RE: City mandates connection to sewer / septic is fine questions

I live in coastal MS and my husband is a plumber here. You will need to go and pull a permit if you do it yourself its fairly inexpensive. Also ask them what depth they want it buried they will be more than glad to tell you my husband does them at 18-24 inches. Like they said watch your pitch. You shouldnt need a grinder pump or lift pump since you have a slab home. Yes your mainline is where your cleanout is. You can also call the city to come out and mark your water line its free and will save you a lot of time. I would only recommend sched 40 pipe anything else is subject to trouble and not code in most places. If you are doing the whole thing your self I would estimate your cost at under a six or seven hundred dollars if you rent a trencher (depending on parts and such)

The other thing you need to remember is to install a clean out at least every 100 feet. If you ever have a stopped up line you can only go 100 feet max with a sewer machine and its best to use a 2 way clean out whenever possible so if you clog is at 98 feet and the cable get a kink but thats a whole nother issue :-)

I dont know what the going rate is upstate but if you dig and backfill it should not take more than 1 day tops for someone who knows what they are doing and you can figure 1 1/2 to 3 for them doing it all.

Of course make sure you check licensure and insurance and get a price in writing up front with all your variables covered. Fraud is rampant down here so I am overly cautious. Make sure you get it inspected before you cover anything up they will make you dig it back up. Also check and see if they are madating you fill in your septic some do and some dont but you will want to consider it

And from where I lived prior they will either fine you or charge you a bloody fortune if ever you try and sell your property if you dont fall in now. A very few will let you tap in at a higher rate when your septic fails but that doesnt happen too often anymore but the worst they can do is say no

Good luck
Amy


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Plumbing Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here