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TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
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TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
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Septic media filters: This article series discusses the design and use of various types of septic media filter systems. Media filter septic systems use a conventional septic tank followed by any of several methods to further filter and treat septic effluent before it is discharged to the soil, soil surface, or waterway.
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When using a septic media filter system, effluent treatment is by both actual filtration and ultimately by a biochemical process as the filter "matures" and includes its own biomass. Both natural media filter septic systems (such as sand, gravel, or peat) and synthetic media filter septic systems (foam cubes, glass, slag) are used, and both single-pass and effluent recycling systems may be employed.
These different septic media filter types are explained here. We include a list of product sources for various types of septic filters.
Citation of this article by reference to this website and brief quotation for the sole purpose of review are permitted. Use of this information at other websites, in books or pamphlets for sale is reserved to the author. Technical review by industry experts has been performed and is ongoing - reviewers welcomed and are listed at References.
Article Series Contents: Septic Media Filter Designs, types, installation, maintenance & use
Geotextiles are often used in septic effluent media filter systems; they can provide a large surface area and high water volume retention.
Fabric media is cut into squares and placed into a container, or hung in curtains in a container. Textile filters operate in a recirculating mode similar to that discussed above, but offer this advantage over sand and peat media: the larger effective surface area of the synthetic textile permits a much higher loading rate in gallons per square (or cubic) foot, thus permitting the media system to be designed into a physically smaller package.
Two-inch open-celled polyurethane cubes are placed into a container to form a packaged or "pre-fab" septic media filter system which is used in either single pass or recirculating effluent mode.
Packaged foam cube septic effluent (wastewater) treatment systems may be placed entirely above ground (but of course will not work in an area of hard freezing climate).
Septic effluent is passed into the foam filter in small doses (1/10 gallon to 1 gallon per cubic foot per dose) using spray nozzles which dose the system from its top. An advantage of this system is its easy maintenance as the (clog prone) top few inches of foam cubes are easily removed and replaced.
A typical media filter system is designed using a flow of 50 to 65 gallons per day per occupant of the building served by the system. This number, cited by several authors including Jantrania, Minnis, and Kahn, Allen, and Jones, is less than other total wastewater load estimates but is considered by these authors to be realistic and is consistent with a number of studies performed on typical wastewater flow rates and quantities.
The system design maintenance required of the media filter system as well as its operating characteristics vary considerably depending on the media selected, with open cell foam and textiles providing higher gallons per day loading ability than peat and other media.
"Maintenance" in this case will refer to inspection of the media bed to determine when the media needs to be cleaned or replaced. Some systems, such as sand filter beds, are raked or agitated rather than replaced, but ultimately all filter systems will become clogged and face media replacement.
Septic filter media maintenance and replacement cost should be factored into estimates of alternative septic system costs when comparing alternative septic system designs.
Product Source List for Filters, Septic Filters & Wastewater Treatment Systems Using Filtration Methods
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Technical Reviewers & References
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books