Monday, January 20, 2014

Recliners and pipe dreams.......

I finally have a moment to breathe, so I'm taking time to catch up on some of the work I've had to do to the house. Last month we had issues with squirrels getting into the attic area and making themselves at home. The were coming in on the back portion of the house that was in pretty bad shape. It took three days, but I got all of that replaced and put together properly. I don't like to beat up on "do-it-yourself" people since I am a very active one of those, but if you're going to do it, do it properly. The back soffits were cobbled together with varying lengths of wood, some of it appearing to be scraps from some previous project. It was just done wrong. A couple of pictures- in one you can still see some of the old stuff:

All of the wood is pressure treated, and after several days of inclement weather all of the bare wood got primed and painted. The rest of it needs to be replaced, but that will wait for another day.

The last two days were spent working on the "gray water" leech field lines. If you've perused the blog at all you might recall that I had issues with that line a while back. That was due to the junction box caving in and allowing dirt into the pipes. I snaked the lines out, then ran a hose through them. I also built a cement lid over the junction box so that if I needed to get to it later I would be able to do so. 

Several days ago I noticed that water was bubbling up from the junction box area. That could only mean one thing- the lines were stopped up again. I removed the cover I made and attempted to snake the lines, but I could only get about 10 feet into one line and 6 feet into the secondary. That did not bode well. The only logical option (in my mind, anyway) at this point was to replace the junction box and run new drain field lines.

I started at the junction box and dug backwards to the holding tank:

The trench looks deceptively shallow in the picture. It is actually between 1 3/4 to 2' deep. That was a ton of dirt to move by shovel. One person. Me. Alone. Not to mention the fact that every other stab with the shovel hit a stone ranging from the size of a fist to the size of a human head. The black corrugated flex pipe was extremely brittle and had breaks all along its length. No wonder the freakin' line was filling with dirt!

I opted to replace it with the white PVC. This gives a smoother surface for the water to flow across and makes it less likely that dirt will accumulate along the length of the pipe if it acquires a break in it.

And in the picture on the top you can see the new junction box. The old box looked like this after I took it out of the ground:

Slight difference, eh? Next step- back fill to the junction box and make things up to that point look nice:

Now the hard part: Making myself do the same thing all over again on the other end of the box. But on this side I had to use the perforated white PVC for the leech portion of the project. And I had to make sure that the gravel foundation was still in good shape so that the water in the line would actually leech out like it's supposed to. I started from the box and dug until I reached the end of the line:

That's another 35 feet at 18-24" deep. One person. Me. Alone. After back-filling the trench I dug out yesterday. I pulled up the old corrugated pipe and found it to be completely full of dirt. I don't mean to the half-way up the pipe point, but the ENTIRE internal area of the pipe! One ten foot section of that pipe weighed (best guess) 300-350 lbs. I was unable to pick it up, I had to drag it out of the hole. (Yeah, yeah, maybe if I hadn't moved the Marianas Trench worth of dirt already, but whatever.)  ;)

I took the hose and washed the dirt off of the gravel that was under the pipe. The water absorbed (leeched) into the ground very quickly which was a good sign. It meant that I didn't have to dig the old gravel out and put in new. After cleaning excess dirt and stone out of the trench, I lined the bottom of it with a double layer of sediment cloth. I then put the pipe in place and wrapped the cloth around it. I held it in place with some duct tape strips until I put dirt on it. Next I put another double layer of sediment cloth on top of the pipe and tucked it down along the sides. Hopefully this will keep the dirt out of the system.

As you might notice, I added a touch or two of my own. Up at the junction box I will have a cleanout pipe flush with the ground and on the final end of the pipe I put a cap so that I could actually open it and flush it out with water if the need ever arises. Also, if I ever have to snake the pipe I have the opening at the end so that I know when I've cleared the entire length of the system. And on to the back-fill:

The junction box is still uncovered, and the pipe sticking out of the clean-out hole will be cut off later. I have to structure a sturdy box around and over the junction box so that it doesn't suffer the same fate as the last one- death by riding mower. That will be done in two days when I have another day off. That will be simple though, the hard part is done.

Total cost: $175.00 and two Advil for my back. Not sure what it would have cost to have someone else come in and do it, but if I had to do this for someone else I'd get at least $2000. I'm figuring I saved a minimum of $1500. Not bad for two day's work :)