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Septic system drop box cover installation, repair, requirements: why we need a safe, water-tight cover over the septic system D-box.
Septic system D box installation, specifications, inspection, diagnosis, and repair: in this article series about septic system drop boxes we describe the best procedures for locating and inspecting, repairing or replacing the septic drainfield distribution box, or the "D-box" or "Splitter box".
My D box is level, it flows nicely and is made of concrete. Unfortunately the lid has failed and the sides are starting to crumble. Do I have to replace the whole box or could I simply form and pour concrete around the old one? Would this be an acceptable repair method? - Scott 5/1/12
Scott, if you can repair the dbox to be water tight in place that's fine, but I worry its a wasted effort ad if it's crumbling the original concrete mix may have been bad - if so the box will continue to crumble - replacement may be in order and not too costly. Certainly you don't want to pour a new "lid" in place that seals the D-box making it impossible to open, inspect, adjust, in the future.
Question: standing water over the [septic tank?] cleanout covers
our cleanout access covers get about an inch of water on it when we run the washer and shower in the house. The water comes up quickly on just the cover and then two minutes later it's gone. We have the tank cleaned once to twice a year; we call the company that cleaned it and the are telling us they need to dig up the D box. I have checked the yard and there is standing water anywhere. Does digging up the D box sound correct. Or should they just check for a clog? - John 6/26/12
John if the septic tank or dbox is flooding as you describe it sounds as if the fields are clogged or flooded. Your system is in trouble, needs diagnosis and repair for sure. Because it's easy and quick it's a great quick-check to look into the D-box to see what's going on.
Open the D-box covers, flush a few toilets in the home, or run the washer, and watch in the D-box. If you see effluent entering and flooding the box then we figure the outlet lines and drainfield are either blocked or saturated.
Start a more throughout inspection at the septic tank, include piping to the D-box, the D-box, and the fields. For example if the tank inspection shows us that the tank baffles are gone, we know we've been pushing solids into and ruining the fields.
Question: how to seal the concrete lid on a septic D-Box?
2017/04/26 Ed said:
What do you use to seal the concrete lid on a d box?
Reply: which Septic D-Boxes & D-box covers need a seal?
The D-Box should be protected from surface runoff & flooding without a special sealing cover
Pre-cast concrete Distribution Boxes are sold usually by local septic tank and system suppliers and typically include gasketed openings for the effluent distribution pipe connections and a flat concrete lid that simply mates with the flat edges of the D-box without a gasket and without use of a sealer. Below I warn that using an effective sealant between the D-box body and D-box cover risks being unable to remove the cover later when needed.
If the septic system distribution -box is protected from surface runoff and local flooding, as it and the rest of the septic system should be if it is to be functional, and if the septic soakbed or drainfield is itself working, then neither groundwater nor septic effluent will make trouble flowing into nor out of the D-box without extravagant gaskets or sealants.
Sealing a Deep Septic D-Box Cover
Really? Well not always. A most-effective septic drainfield is not buried deep into the ground because there's not enough oxygen down at depths more than a couple of feet. But in cold climates such as Northern Minnesota, the top of a septic tank itself may be four feet below ground and septic soakaway or drainfield beds may be still deeper. It can be more difficult to keep seasonal ground water out of such systems.
If you have an unusual situation that requires actually sealing the septic D-box lid to the box body, and as usual the concrete D-box design doesn't include gaskets and grooves to mate them, you can use butyl sealant on a clean dry surface - it will bond very well - perhaps too well as the D-box won't leak but it can be hard to get the lid off again if you use too much sealant.
For that reason some septic installers often provide a flexible rubber gasket (or a makeshift one using a neoprene gasket material) that will seal the lid of the D-box while making its removal easy when inspection or adjustment are needed.
Sources of Septic D-Boxes with Seal-able Covers
Tuf-Tite makes a plastic D-box that includes built-in seals around the lid as well as around the connecting pipes. [Tufftite]
Tuf-Tite Construction Products,
1200 Flex Court,
Lake Zurich, IL 60047 USA, Tel:
Polylok makes a plastic D-box with a sealing cover for round Distribution boxes. [Polylock]
3 Fairfield Blvd,
Wallingford, CT 06492 USA, Tel:
Dublin Road Athy,
Ireland R14 R285 Tel:
000-353(0)59 86 31524
Email: email@example.com Polylok Inc.
Advanced Drainage Systems produces a polyethylene "drain tube distribution box" sold at WalMart stores. This box includes a friction-fit plastic access cover.
Corex provides a polyethylene plastic D-box taht to me looks identical to the Advanced Drainage Systems product. These products are ribbed for structural strength and may be more suitable for surface water drainage.
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 Thanks to reader Nicholas Day for discussing D-box troubles and repairs, September 2010
 Zoeller Pump Company, 3649 Cane Run Rd., Louisville, KY 40211, Phone: 1-800-928-7867, 502-778-2731
Fax: 502-774-3624. Technical support and/or quote related emails: firstname.lastname@example.org. Zoeller produces just about every kind of septic, sewage, effluent, grinder, and sump pump. Homeowners who need a sewage pump are asked to contact their local representative or retail sales outlet. Zoeller classes their pumps into these categories:
Grinder pumps, such as Zoeller's 810/815 Turnkey Grinder Systems, 800-series Grinder Pumps, Cold-Climate grinder pumps, Simplex prepackaged grinder pump systems, and Simplex and Duplex (two pumps) grinder systems including four outdoor use.
Utility, pedestal, & gas engine pumps. These are portable gas-engine powered pumps used typically in construction, service, or emergencies
Sewage & Dewatering pumps, such as certain Aqua-Mate Models and Waste-Mate models, and Sewage-Waste 600-series pumps
Splitter for septic effluent distribution. Web search 5/1/12, original source
https://app.qleapahead.com/rtp/LibraryGet.aspx?asset=85356,63 [copy on file as septic/D-boxes/Zoeller_D-BOx_Splittert.pdf ] Website: www.zoeller.com
Sump, Effluent, Dewatering pumps, such as Water Ridd'r , Mighty-Mate, Aqua-Mate, Flow-Mate, and High Head Flow-Mate pumps - of certain models - be sure to read the manufacturer's intended use for a pump model before purchasing it
 "Drainfield Rehabilitation", Pipeline, Winter 2005, Vol. 16, No. 1, NESC, National Environmental Services Center, 800-624-8301 [copy on file as [/septic/D-boxes/NESC_2005-16_1.pdf
 Advanced Onsite Wastewater Systems Technologies, Anish R. Jantrania, Mark A. Gross. Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., P.E., M.B.A., is a Consulting Engineer, in Mechanicsville VA, 804-550-0389 (2006). Outstanding technical reference especially on alternative septic system design alternatives. Written for designers and engineers, this book is not at all easy going for homeowners but is a text I recommend for professionals--DF.
 Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
Quoting from Amazon's description: For the homebuilder, one mistake in estimating or installing wells and septic systems can cost thousands of dollars. This comprehensive guide filled with case studies can prevent that. Master plumber R. Dodge Woodson packs this reader-friendly guide with guidance and information, including details on new techniques and materials that can economize and expedite jobs and advice on how to avoid mistakes in both estimating and construction. Chapters cover virtually every aspect of wells and septic systems, including on-site evaluations; site limitations; bidding; soil studies, septic designs, and code-related issues; drilled and dug wells, gravel and pipe, chamber-type, and gravity septic systems; pump stations; common problems with well installation; and remedies for poor septic situations. Woodson also discusses ways to increase profits by avoiding cost overruns.
 Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
Quoting an Amazon reviewer's comment, with which we agree--DF:This book is informative as far as it goes and might be most useful for someone with an older system. But it was written in the early 1980s. A lot has changed since then. In particular, the book doesn't cover any of the newer systems that are used more and more nowadays in some parts of the country -- sand mounds, aeration systems, lagoons, etc.
 Onsite Wastewater Disposal, R. J. Perkins;
Quoting from Amazon: This practical book, co-published with the National Environmental Health Association,
describes the step-by-step procedures needed to avoid common pitfalls in septic system technology.
Valuable in matching the septic system to the site-specific conditions, this useful book will help you install a reliable system in
both suitable and difficult environments. Septic tank installers, planners, state and local regulators, civil and sanitary engineers,
consulting engineers, architects, homeowners, academics, and land developers will find this publication valuable.
 Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, Bennette D. Burks, Mary Margaret Minnis, Hogarth House 1994 - one of the best septic system books around, suffering a bit from small fonts and a weak index. (DF volunteers to serve as indexer if Burks/Minnis re-publish this very useful volume.)While it contains some material more technical than needed by homeowners, Burks/Minnis book on onsite wastewater treatment systems a very useful reference
for both property owners and septic system designers. We refer to it often.
While Minnis says the best place to buy this book is at Amazon (our link at left), you can also see this book at Minnis' website at http://web page .pace.edu/MMinnisbook
 Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf
 Septic System Owner's Manual, Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen, Julie Jones, Shelter Publications, 2000 $14.95 U.S. - easy to understand, well illustrated, one of the best practical references around on septic design basics including some advanced systems; a little short on safety and maintenance. Both new and used (low priced copies are available, and we think the authors are working on an updated edition--DF.
Quoting from one of several Amazon reviews: The basics of septic systems, from underground systems and failures to what the owner can do to promote and maintain a healthy system, is revealed in an excellent guide essential for any who reside on a septic system. Rural residents receive a primer on not only the basics; but how to conduct period inspections and what to do when things go wrong. History also figures into the fine coverage.
 Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, Bombeck, Erma: $ 5.99; FAWCETT; MM;
This septic system classic whose title helps avoid intimidating readers new to septic systems, is available new or used at very low prices.
It's more entertainment than a serious "how to" book on septic systems design, maintenance, or repair. Not recommended -- DF.
 US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm
 Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook, R. Dodge Woodson. This book is in the upper price range, but is worth the cost for serious septic installers and designers.
Quoting Amazon: Each year, thousands upon thousands of Americans install water wells and septic systems on their properties. But with a maze of codes governing their use along with a host of design requirements that ensure their functionality where can someone turn for comprehensive, one-stop guidance? Enter the Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook from McGraw-Hill.
Written in language any property owner can understand yet detailed enough for professionals and technical students this easy-to-use volume delivers the latest techniques and code requirements for designing, building, rehabilitating, and maintaining private water wells and septic systems. Bolstered by a wealth of informative charts, tables, and illustrations, this book delivers:
* Current construction, maintenance, and repair methods
* New International Private Sewage Disposal Code
* Up-to-date standards from the American Water Works Association
 Wells and Septic Systems, Alth, Max and Charlet, Rev. by S. Blackwell Duncan, $ 18.95; Tab Books 1992. We have found this text very useful for conventional well and septic systems design and maintenance --DF.
Quoting an Amazon description:Here's all the information you need to build a well or septic system yourself - and save a lot of time, money, and frustration. S. Blackwell Duncan has thoroughly revised and updated this second edition of Wells and Septic Systems to conform to current codes and requirements. He also has expanded this national bestseller to include new material on well and septic installation, water storage and distribution, water treatment, ecological considerations, and septic systems for problem building sites.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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