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  #1  
Old 01/11/09, 07:42 AM
 
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For those with mound septic system, could you post a picture?

I know this is a lot to ask! Many of you were kind enough to tell us the pros and cons of mound septic systems. I have been trying to see what it will look like, as they are planning on putting it right outside the back windows of the house we have a contract on. Currently the view is beautiful, and why we want to buy the property. We want to see how it will impact that view. It is 8 acres, but they say this is the best place for it. I have googled images, but can't find much in terms of completed existing systems. I would appreciate it if anyone has time to do this for me!

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Old 01/11/09, 10:19 AM
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This isn't a mound as most folks build when they can't bury a leach field. This is a peat bed system that doesn't require leach lines. The modules are the leach bed. The setup shown serves a school and is designed to serve a bit more than 100 people. That includes six restrooms for the students and three restrooms for the staff. A peat bed setup for a home would be much smaller.

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Old 01/11/09, 10:26 AM
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Here is a schematic of a mound that may give you some idea that a mound system...in the eyes of a homeowner....is a "pimple" or "wart" on the landscape of their backyard. The "hill" in the backyard is usually only 3 to 4 feet high. The problem for most people is its rather steep slopes (3:1). A mound system can be more acceptable, in appearance, if it is made with 4:1 or even 5:1 sideslopes. These gentle slopes give the mound a more natural appearance.



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Old 01/11/09, 10:31 AM
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Peat beds.

The peat beds that Darren has shown is an alternative septic system. Generally one peat bed is required per bedroom in the home. Effluent flow out of the bottom of the peat container. Most states require that the container be place at least one foot above the seasonal high watertable and/or bedrock. If the bedrock is one foot below the surface of the soil, you will still have to deal with the height ot the container (about 3-feet) being above the natural landscape...and thus, haveing a "mound" of soil surrounding the containers in the backyard..

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Old 01/11/09, 01:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Darren View Post
This isn't a mound as most folks build when they can't bury a leach field. This is a peat bed system that doesn't require leach lines. The modules are the leach bed. The setup shown serves a school and is designed to serve a bit more than 100 people. That includes six restrooms for the students and three restrooms for the staff. A peat bed setup for a home would be much smaller.

Thanks for this idea. I will ask them if that would be doable back there. I am also going to ask about the gravity design mentioned earlier.
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Old 01/11/09, 01:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
Peat beds.

The peat beds that Darren has shown is an alternative septic system. Generally one peat bed is required per bedroom in the home. Effluent flow out of the bottom of the peat container. Most states require that the container be place at least one foot above the seasonal high watertable and/or bedrock. If the bedrock is one foot below the surface of the soil, you will still have to deal with the height ot the container (about 3-feet) being above the natural landscape...and thus, haveing a "mound" of soil surrounding the containers in the backyard..
Oh, I get it. You wouldn't have the maintenance issues with a pump though would you? I will have to research this. One of the things I have read about the mound system is they are more problematic in terms of maintenance. Also, if the electric goes out, so goes the pump.
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Old 01/11/09, 01:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
Here is a schematic of a mound that may give you some idea that a mound system...in the eyes of a homeowner....is a "pimple" or "wart" on the landscape of their backyard. The "hill" in the backyard is usually only 3 to 4 feet high. The problem for most people is its rather steep slopes (3:1). A mound system can be more acceptable, in appearance, if it is made with 4:1 or even 5:1 sideslopes. These gentle slopes give the mound a more natural appearance.
I think I will as the septic company to give us addresses of where they have put in recent systems. Maybe we can drive by and see how it looks. Thanks!
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Old 01/11/09, 02:05 PM
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Hi,

We had a mound system at our old house (we moved in Sept.). I don't have any pics but I think my husband does....but he's out of town for a couple of days. When he returns I'll ask.

We ended up having our vegetable garden on top of the mound. We made sure the center, where the leaching field was, didn't have any crops with deep roots. Our garden was 30X45 or so.

We had a choice between a retaining wall or having the mound gently slope to ground level. On two of the sides we opted for the retaining wall, made of large boulders. If front of the retaining wall (which was almost 5' tall) we made herb gardens a bit of other landscaping. It took away from the harshness of a septic system.

If I forget to ask my DH about pics, send me a PM in a couple of days to jog my memory.
Elizabeth

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Old 01/11/09, 02:34 PM
 
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Hi,

We had a mound system at our old house (we moved in Sept.). I don't have any pics but I think my husband does....but he's out of town for a couple of days. When he returns I'll ask.

We ended up having our vegetable garden on top of the mound. We made sure the center, where the leaching field was, didn't have any crops with deep roots. Our garden was 30X45 or so.

We had a choice between a retaining wall or having the mound gently slope to ground level. On two of the sides we opted for the retaining wall, made of large boulders. If front of the retaining wall (which was almost 5' tall) we made herb gardens a bit of other landscaping. It took away from the harshness of a septic system.

If I forget to ask my DH about pics, send me a PM in a couple of days to jog my memory.
Elizabeth
I didn't know you could plant on top of it, other than flowers and grass. That would definitely give the land dual purpose at least.
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Old 01/11/09, 03:17 PM
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I don't know how much regulations vary by state but our was in Massachusetts. We had a 13X13 leaching field area but the 'mound' was 40X45 so there was a lot of area that wasn't really the 'septic system'. We put about 12" of compost (instead of topsoil) over the final mound so we had a good deep bed of soil before hitting any of the legal stuff. Also, we made sure that only shallow rooted crops were directly over the leaching field - no turnips there!

Elizabeth

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Old 01/11/09, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by KindredSpirit View Post
Oh, I get it. You wouldn't have the maintenance issues with a pump though would you? ....
It all depends. If the outlet on the septic tank is at a lower elevation than the inlet of the peat beds, you'll need a pump.

Actually, peat beds and modern mounds are designed to have the wastewater dosed to them. Dosing requires a pump tank and pump. Once the pump tank accumulates a certain amount of wastewater, let's say 100 gallons, the pump kicks on and doses the bed. With out this type of pressure distribution, all of the wastewater would be discharged to the same location in the mound or peat bed.
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Old 01/11/09, 04:00 PM
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I can't pass up a chance to share pictures! This is they house we had built in WI. We moved to SD in 2004 so don't own it anymore.

We had mostly rock underneath, and a mound was the only choice. The house was built on the side of the hill (walkout basement) and the mound was downhill from that. I did not own a digital camera at the time we were building, so don't have any pictures on the computer of when we were building. These were taken from 2-4 years after it was installed.

I really searched through my pictures to try to find ones that would show the mound, hope these work for you.

This is taken from the downhill side of the house. The pipes sticking up is where the tanks and pump are. I always planned on cutting the pipes down shorter, but never got around to it. This picture is probably the best to show the slope of the yard. They backfilled from the house to the top of the mound since there was such a steep slope. This gave us an area to use as a lawn that wasn't quite so much of a problem.



Here is a closer shot of the tanks. I planted perenial flowers around them. There were two cement tank covers and the pipes along with the electrical box.




This is a shot looking directly at the mound. The center line of it is right at the edge of the mowed area. The uphill side was backfilled so you really can't tell. We were told we could do what ever we wanted on the uphill side, but to leave the downhill side alone.



Here is a shot looking up to towards the house. The downhill side of the mound is what you see, you can't see any of the lawn over the slightly longer grass at the top of the mound. There are three PVC viewing pipes sticking out at the center line of the mound (one on each end and one in the middle. You can not see them here - the only you can see is where the tanks are.



Here is one last picture. In this one you can see the east end PVC pipe sticking out from the top of the mound.



The only big problem we had is they put the mound too far to the west (towards the road) and did not leave enough room for where we had planned on putting the barn. If they had put it 20' farther east, this would not have been a problem, but that would have required clearing some trees. No one showed us exactly where the mound would be - though we showed them where we wanted to put the barn and assumed they would make sure things would work. They also messed up the driveway because it would have meant calling the telephone company and having them move their line. It could have been done but would have caused a hold up and the excavators didn't bother asking and just put in the driveway different. Same company did mound and driveway and hole for the house. I'll never hire a general contractor and trust him to make sure things are done right for me again. But that is a different story.

The other interesting thing is that the plumber messed up and forgot to put the pump in the tank. So for three years we had a "gravity fed" system. If not for the slope, we'd have had sewage in the basement not long after moving in. WI requires tanks be pumped every three years, and when they opened the tank, they realized we had a problem. Plumbing company fixed it for free. Someone locked everything up and signed off, and we never thought of cutting the locks/chains and having a look see. (WI also requires they are locked shut).

Cathy

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Old 01/11/09, 04:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Macybaby View Post
I can't pass up a chance to share pictures! This is they house we had built in WI. We moved to SD in 2004 so don't own it anymore.

We had mostly rock underneath, and a mound was the only choice. The house was built on the side of the hill (walkout basement) and the mound was downhill from that. I did not own a digital camera at the time we were building, so don't have any pictures on the computer of when we were building. These were taken from 2-4 years after it was installed.

I really searched through my pictures to try to find ones that would show the mound, hope these work for you.

This is taken from the downhill side of the house. The pipes sticking up is where the tanks and pump are. I always planned on cutting the pipes down shorter, but never got around to it. This picture is probably the best to show the slope of the yard. They backfilled from the house to the top of the mound since there was such a steep slope. This gave us an area to use as a lawn that wasn't quite so much of a problem.

Here is a closer shot of the tanks. I planted perenial flowers around them. There were two cement tank covers and the pipes along with the electrical box.

This is a shot looking directly at the mound. The center line of it is right at the edge of the mowed area. The uphill side was backfilled so you really can't tell. We were told we could do what ever we wanted on the uphill side, but to leave the downhill side alone.

Here is a shot looking up to towards the house. The downhill side of the mound is what you see, you can't see any of the lawn over the slightly longer grass at the top of the mound. There are three PVC viewing pipes sticking out at the center line of the mound (one on each end and one in the middle. You can not see them here - the only you can see is where the tanks are.

Here is one last picture. In this one you can see the east end PVC pipe sticking out from the top of the mound.

The only big problem we had is they put the mound too far to the west (towards the road) and did not leave enough room for where we had planned on putting the barn. If they had put it 20' farther east, this would not have been a problem, but that would have required clearing some trees. No one showed us exactly where the mound would be - though we showed them where we wanted to put the barn and assumed they would make sure things would work. They also messed up the driveway because it would have meant calling the telephone company and having them move their line. It could have been done but would have caused a hold up and the excavators didn't bother asking and just put in the driveway different. Same company did mound and driveway and hole for the house. I'll never hire a general contractor and trust him to make sure things are done right for me again. But that is a different story.

The other interesting thing is that the plumber messed up and forgot to put the pump in the tank. So for three years we had a "gravity fed" system. If not for the slope, we'd have had sewage in the basement not long after moving in. WI requires tanks be pumped every three years, and when they opened the tank, they realized we had a problem. Plumbing company fixed it for free. Someone locked everything up and signed off, and we never thought of cutting the locks/chains and having a look see. (WI also requires they are locked shut).

Cathy
Cathy, THANK YOU so much. This has really put my mind at ease. I would never have been able to tell it was there! We also have a hill that it will be on, so hopefully they will do as good a job as yours is. That was a tremendous help! By the way, your property was BEAUTIFUL!
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Old 01/11/09, 04:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
It all depends. If the outlet on the septic tank is at a lower elevation than the inlet of the peat beds, you'll need a pump.

Actually, peat beds and modern mounds are designed to have the wastewater dosed to them. Dosing requires a pump tank and pump. Once the pump tank accumulates a certain amount of wastewater, let's say 100 gallons, the pump kicks on and doses the bed. With out this type of pressure distribution, all of the wastewater would be discharged to the same location in the mound or peat bed.
Thank you Cabin, you are very resourceful on such a wide range of subjects I am alway glad to see when you have posted. So there really isn't much benefit in the peat bed system over the mound system, since they both involve the pump and would probably have a mound there. DH was concerned about the pump being a hassle, but only one person mentioned issues with that. Cathy's post has put my mind at ease in terms of appearance, and eam gardened on top of theirs, so I am feeling better about the whole thing. You guys are such a great group!! We meet with the county in the morning and will put up a good fight for the trench system, but I guess if it has to go mound, it won't be such a bad thing. Who'd have known going to the bathroom had to be so complicated!
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Old 01/12/09, 07:45 AM
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....Cathy's post has put my mind at ease in terms of appearance, and eam gardened on top of theirs, so I am feeling better about the whole thing....
If you want a mound that looks like Cathy's, make sure they locate it on the shoulder of a side hill. Such a location can actually give your backyard MORE flat surface area in the backyard. People who are not as lucky as Cathy....those with level backyards...will get the "eye sore" mound system that looks like a small hill.
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Old 01/12/09, 09:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
If you want a mound that looks like Cathy's, make sure they locate it on the shoulder of a side hill. Such a location can actually give your backyard MORE flat surface area in the backyard. People who are not as lucky as Cathy....those with level backyards...will get the "eye sore" mound system that looks like a small hill.
Well, that is good news for us. The property is definitely on a slope and levels out when you get down the hill. We are taking out Cathy's pictures and going to confirm with the septic guy that he can do one similar. Thanks for all the help!
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Old 01/12/09, 03:16 PM
 
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Cabin (since you work with this stuff in MN) or others, it seems here in southern MN in the mostly yellow clay soils all we get is mound systems.

You sorta addressed this, but is it possible to do a mound sysyem without having a pump in it? This old house is on top of a hill, long gentle slope in one direction with room to do whatever for a long ways, even a pretty steep hill in another direction but that gets into the yard a bit for other concerns....

I'm cool with being a good steward and all, but when you are out in the middle of 100's of acres of farm land with livestock making mounds of poo a few 100 feet away, things get a little silly at the same time...

I just don't like troublesome, gadgeted items when you can make gravity work for you for free, and so on. I'd rather pay more up front, & not have to go through the pupmps & headaches & emergency calls some of my friends have had over the past few years....

I don't understand the need for that tank & pump setup, if there would be enough fall to feed the mound directly?

--->Paul

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Old 01/12/09, 04:21 PM
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Paul, I hear you. When my septic was designed I wanted to make sure wastewater flowed by gravity from the house to the septic tank and then to the drainfield trenches.

It's different with a mound system. A mound has a rock bed in the center of it. This bed is of different configurations depending on wastewater flow, slope and soil type. Assuming level ground, the rock bed for a typical home is generally 10 x 50 to 75 feet in area. Each time effluent is dosed to the bed, we want every square foot of the rock bed receiving the same amount of wastewater. Consequently, we must use pressure distribution which requires a pump tank...to hold the specified volume...and a pump. Pressure distribution is the only way wastewater can be evenly delivered throughout the entire rock bed.

If gravity distribution was used, a variety of flow volumes would reach the mound depending on water use. In other words, if you flushed the toliet about 1.5 gallons would be delivered to the mound all at once, if you washed a load of clothes, about 40 gallons would be delievered to the mound all at once, and so on. These irrgeular flow volumes would enter the rock bed in the mound all the same location...through the first few holes of the perforated drain pipe. This will result in only one part of the mound receiving all the flow and the remainder of the mound receiving almost no flow. These flows would readily percolate thru the rock bed, then thru the two feet of sand below the rock, then hit the clay and move downhill and out the toe of the mound and seep out into the yard.

Hopefully you can see then how evenly distributing a specified volume of wastewater throughout the entire distribution bed inside the mound will then result in all the natural soil below the mound being used for infiltration of each wastewater dose.

With that said, I have heard of some gravity mound systems where there is a siphon setup inside the dosing tank. Once the level of wastewater inside the tank reaches a pre-set level, it is mechanically "flushed" or is "siphoned" out of the tank to the mound (no electricity involved). If elevation is adequate, this volume of wastewater will have sufficient head (ie, pressure) to reach all corners of the rock bed thru the distribution piping within the bed. Typically the distribution piping within a mound's rock bed is 2" diameter with 3/16" to 1/4" holes spaced every two to three feet or so.

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Old 01/12/09, 10:01 PM
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We have some really UGLY septic mounds in my neighborhood unfortunately. The households have done nothing with them and they are just giant mounds of dirt and weeds in their back yards. I don't know how they stand them. They are too steep to mow and maybe they don't know WHAT to do with them....I sure wouldn't want one in my back yard!!!!

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Old 01/13/09, 08:36 AM
 
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We have some really UGLY septic mounds in my neighborhood unfortunately. The households have done nothing with them and they are just giant mounds of dirt and weeds in their back yards. I don't know how they stand them. They are too steep to mow and maybe they don't know WHAT to do with them....I sure wouldn't want one in my back yard!!!!
.....and I was just starting to get comforatble with the idea.
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