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Outlet for Septic Equipment


Brian G
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I ran across a set-up today, with a septic system impeller-pump thingy plugged into a GFCI outlet at the back wall of the house. This arrangement is very rare in these parts, because our soil perks like Mrs. Olsen. Is there anything I should know about this kind of equipment and GFCI's?

Brian G.

Compelled to Ask About the Impeller Thingy [:-dunce]

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Sounds like a treatment plant.

I treat them the same way I treat a septic tank system. I tell them to get the pumped and inspected. Depending on the county it might need to be certified by the Health Department.

If it is an older GFCI, I would switch it out to one of the newer GFCI's that do not trip as much with electric motors.

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About all I could see was a small concrete box open on two sides (roughly 1 ft. x 1 1/2 ft.). It was crammed in between the shrubs and the back wall, under a bay window overhang. The cord came out and plugged into a GFCI a few feet away. The seller told me it was equipment for the septic system, but he didn't know exactly what either.

I don't inspect this kind of thing to start with, but the GFCI wouldn't trip so I'm trying to find out what rules or exceptions might apply here. I don't see anything exempting equipment like this in the 2005 Handbook, but I thought I'd pick the collective brains before writing my recommendation. At the least it needs a "bubble" cover.

Brian G.

Not Up on the Poop Propellers [:-yuck]

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Perhaps their tank is higher than the house and they need to pump the sewage up to it.

This house sits on a flatten hilltop, so that's not it. I wonder about field lines...not much place for 'em to go up there except steeply downward.

If it's plugged into an exterior receptacle, the receptacle needs GFCI protection and a bubble cover.

Roger that. Thanks.

Brian G.

On the Bubble (cover) [:-wiltel]

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Originally posted by Jim Katen

Perhaps their tank is higher than the house and they need to pump the sewage up to it.

This house sits on a flatten hilltop, so that's not it. I wonder about field lines...not much place for 'em to go up there except steeply downward. . . .

If they're on a hill, the drain field tiles will go perpendicular to the hill, sort of like contour lines on a topo map.

Was it by any chance a sand-filter system? (There would have been a large concrete bunker-like thing half buried in the yard somewhere.)

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi Brian,

Could you describe your "impeller pump thingy" please? Size, shape, color, etc.

OT - OF!!!

M.

Thanks for a sensible reply. I am awestruck at how all inspectors, (me included from time to time) try to come up with an answer without seeing the "thingy". Pictures, or a really really better description would help everyone come up with a reasonable answer.

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

If they're on a hill, the drain field tiles will go perpendicular to the hill, sort of like contour lines on a topo map.

Ah-so. Of course.

Was it by any chance a sand-filter system? (There would have been a large concrete bunker-like thing half buried in the yard somewhere.)

There was only a small, round concrete lid about 20 feet away, no more than 1 1/2 - 2 feet in diameter, near a typical-looking 4 inch PVC clean-out.

Brian G.

Not Lifting the Lid Without a Haz-Mat Suit [:-crazy]

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Brian, that sounds like a aerobic treatment plant. Most have an aerator type system that churns the contents over and over. You should be able to hear the pump or motor running. The discharge will be clear like water and should not have a sewage odor. The plastic clean-out looking thing is most likely at the final compartment. You pull the cap and drop in a chlorine type tablet (pool tablets are used). This gets rid of the odor. Sometimes they will have a holding tank with a pump and a sprinkler system attached. Sometimes they will just drain in to a area of the yard, rock reed gardens or similar setup. I had one at my cabin and I had it discharging into a Koi pond, but I skipped the chlorine tablet part because I liked my Koi!

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