Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Dry Well" aka "Kitchen Basin"

Soon after we bought our cabin, in fact the first day, we discovered that our kitchen sink drained excrutiatingly slowly. We had no idea where the kitchen sink actually drained to and we actually feared that it may run directly into the lake...but, we were lucky, it did not. We knew that it couldn't possibly run to the septic, because it is on the opposite end of the house, physically impossible. My husband is very handy, so we elected to not having a home inspection prior to buying our cabin. We knew what to expect and Bill can do the majority of the work, so this was his first major project at the cabin.

Here is a series of photographs when my husband and his brother replaced our old 'Dry Well' with a new one. The septic guy calls them 'Kitchen Basins' or 'Kitchen Septic'. It does the same thing that our regular septic tank does. Due to the location of our kitchen sink, it does not drain to our regular septic tank for several reasons. 1. It never has. 2. There isn't any way to get the proper pitch or angles that would allow it to drain into our septic tank. We are on a slab, not over a crawl space. 3. The only way that our kitchen sink could feasibly go to our septic, is with a pump under the sink that would pump the 'gray' water up into the attic, pitch down at a steep angle and drain into our septic. Not only is the cost prohibitive, it would require unsightly plumbing and it totally grosses me out to think that if there were ever a leak in the attic, it would drip or worse yet, pour greasy icky water onto my ceilings. If anyone has a better solution without revamping the entire septic system, let me know. This was the only solution that we thought was available. In this first photo, this is the original cast iron angle that comes out past the house and makes a sharp turn toward the dry well. This is 4" cast iron and in excellent shape. My husbands plan was to follow this pipe to whereever it ended.

That hot guy on the right, you know, the pale one??? LOL He is my dear digger husband, Bill. The guy on the left is my brother-in-law. This is where they had dug up the yard to the old 50 gallon drum in the front yard. Just after this pic was taken, they lifted the lid off of the 50 gallon drum which shredded in their hands.

Here is the PVC pipe that was attached to the 4" cast iron. This pipe had drain holes all over it and tree roots and grease had taken up the majority of the pipe. They had to cut the tree roots away from the pipe with an axe. This was the only way to get the pipe out of the ground. Really gross, eh? In the mean time, I had called the septic pumper out and they pumped the old 'dry well' out and also the septic tank.

This was after they removed the old 55 gallon drum and started digging to put in the new 'dry well'. The PVC pipe there is new and does not have drainage holes. My husband did put in a clean out so that it can be pumped and cleaned without digging again. In fact, he said that he would NEVER do this his lifetime. This was really hard work for the 2 of them.

Here is Bill fitting the new 55 gallon drum. The hole would eventually become approx. 6-7ft. deep. There are 1" holes for drainage and is seated on and backfilled with river rock. My husband also put copper rods in the drum to discourage tree roots from entering the drum and PVC drainage pipe. The septic guy also recommended putting a cinder block in the bottom to help prevent frost heave or collapse. The entire thing was covered with hay, a thick layer of topsoil and another layer of hay. Unless someone told you, you would never know what the small hump is in the yard. Having a 'natural' front yard, we have lots of humps and slopes anyway. We were thrilled that we were able to fix the sink problem and also know that we weren't destroying the environment by dumping gray water into the lake.


Shelley said...

That looks like such hard work!! I don't envy them!
Signed - Lazy Shelley

Denise said...

nyuk, nyuk. I made them strip before coming into the cabin. I wasn't part of the digging party either. But, I was happy to supervise the entire operation with a rum and diet pepsi in hand.

Anonymous said...

I was quite interested in your tale because we have a similar situation we think. My question to you is how is it working today?