Sunday, September 4, 2016

Not fun–sewer line install

Finally, it’s done. We got the sewer line fully installed at our off grid cabin.

The land we bought came with a well and septic tank on it. Getting water out of the well is as simple as hooking up a 12 volt, solar powered water pump. The sewer was a little more complicated.

The sewer line had been badly damaged by bulldozer work in the recent past. Much of it was practically shredded. This meant replacing a lot of the sewer line and patching together whatever was still intact.

We got by for about a month with a bucket-system composting toilet. However, in the state where we live, if there is a septic tank on the premises, you are required to hook up to it. Even if there’s not, then you are required to only use an approved composting toilet. Getting new sewer line, elbows, vent pipe, and couplers was far less expensive than a new approved composting toilet, so we went the less expensive route.

It took some time to gather the right materials, and some expense. This meant I had to buy the parts in two go-rounds. No matter – it always takes at least three visits to the hardware store to get everything you need for any project anyway.

We got out early this morning (September 2, 2016) and started working on it. First, was digging up a length of existing sewer line that didn’t go all the way to the septic tank OR to the cabin. Next was cleaning the ends of all the lines and using pipe glue to join them, the couplers, and the elbows together. (This was done after we dry fitted it all and saw that it would, indeed, flow.)

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned, does it? Just about the time we thought we were done, one of the reducers used to join a larger line to a smaller one split right down the side. Ugh! Fortunately, one of the parts we  bought that we thought we’d never use (a rubber coupler with two screw clamps) came in very handy to join the pipes together, along with some pricey plumbing tape that is sticky when you stretch it. (I’d bought the tape when we installed the well pump, since it is waterproof and it was used on the wiring along with waterproof wire nuts.) Then, it was time to wait at least 2 hours to make sure the glue on all the joins was completely dry and cured.

Next came back filling the ditch where the sewer line is buried. We had to get enough dirt under the lines to support them in a slight slope to the septic tank, and enough over them to help prevent them being crushed by walking out that way or freezing this winter. In some places old bricks were used to support the joined pipes until the dirt could settle in around them.

At last, though, we have a real flushing toilet. We will be using gray water from bathing, doing laundry and washing dishes to flush it, instead of using fresh water from the well. That way, the gray water is properly disposed of anyway (another legal issue here) and we can use the fresh water for bathing, washing dishes, doing laundry, and cooking.

Truthfully, you never know how many things you take for granted until you choose to live off grid. I don’t regret it at all. It’s a learning experience, an adventure, and satisfying. As we go along, we’ll gain more in skill and knowledge living this way than we ever would have any other way.

1 comment:

  1. Ann so glad you have internet and the sewer line is finiahed