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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
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SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
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SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This document explains why drywells or seepage pits in many areas simply do not work, or do not work reliably all year round due to seasonal high water tables and flooding.
We include suggestions on protecting seepage pits and drywells from ground water and flooding in order to extend their life. This material is a chapter of our Septic Systems Online Book: This document explains septic system inspection procedures, defects in onsite waste disposal systems, septic tank problems, septic drainfield problems, checklists of system components and things to ask. Septic system maintenance and pumping schedules.
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No. In many areas "drywells" are a misnomer since during wet weather as water tables rise, the drywell "pit" is not very dry and in fact may fill up with water and simply stop working.
In wet areas of the Northeastern U.S., for example, we disagree with the practice of "solving" a roof drainage disposal problem at a flat site by building a "drywell" since in our experience these fail rather soon and in some cases even fill up and work backwards, sending water back to a building footing drain or roof drainage system where water then leaks into the building!
Worse, if the "drywell" was buried close to the building foundation wall it may actually serve as a conduit, sending water against the building foundation and actually into the building.
If soil and site conditions are adequate for absorption trenches, seepage pits shall not be used.
A minimum three foot vertical separation must exist between the bottom of any pit and the high groundwater level, bedrock, or other impervious layer.
Below we suggest keeping surface runoff and subsurface groundwater away from your seepage pit or drywell to keep it working.
Tips for Extending a Drywell or Seepage Pit Life & Protecting them from Flooding
Direct surface runoff away from the seepage pit or drywell, including both on-surface water that can be controlled by a swale or intercept drain, and also ground-water that may require a deeper intercept drain conducting surrounding groundwater to a safe destination at least 20' away from the pit.
Also see Clearances for Septic Components Required - Well distance to Septic, Septic clearance from well, trees, lakes, streams, property boundary, etc.
Some experts recommend installing a filter on water entering the drywell. Particularly for a drywell used to receive water from a clothes washing machine, installing a lint filter between the washing machine and the drywell can extend the life of the drywell by reducing the moment of soil-clogging particles of lint and debris into the system.
Intermittent dosing systems such as are used for some alternative septic system designs, can also be adapted to graywater systems. In simple terms, this means that multiple drywells are used, and graywater is routed intermittently among them, giving the unused drywell time to recover. A simple valve system on the graywater drain line can serve to route greywater (graywater) to alternating drywells.
Also see DRYWELL DESIGN & USES and Questions & Answers about Drywells. Readers trying to diagnose and deal with sudden soil subsidence or yard collapses should see CESSPOOL SAFETY WARNINGS as those hazards can also apply to drywells and septic tanks, and also see SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS. Additional septic system safety warnings are at SEPTIC & CESSPOOL SAFETY.
Citation of this article by reference to this website and brief quotation for the sole purpose of review are permitted. Use of this information in electronic form, in books or pamphlets for sale is reserved to the author. Some technical review by industry experts has been completed-reviewers are listed at References. Further review comments and content suggestions are welcome. Home buyers who want less technical advice should see the Home Buyer's Guide to Septic Systems. Also see The Septic Systems Home Page.
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