septic guy says my septic cant handle cloth diapers - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-19-2006, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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does anyone have this problem? we have a 1,000 gallon tank and the septic guy says that our system cant handle all the cloth diaper water.
what does everyone else do?
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:46 PM
 
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Please don't let it be true...I just ordered more CDs and we will be moving to a place with septic in 10 days!!! AHHH! I am going to talk with dh about this....Jennifer

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Old 05-19-2006, 08:53 PM
 
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My place before this had a septic, we lived there for 3 year, cloth diapering the entire time with no problems. I visit my mother for a little over a month each summer with no problems from her septic either. I think your septic guy is full of crap.
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:59 PM
 
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I think he's talking out of his ass....no pun intended. He's yammering from the 'fear' of the unknown, I'd say.

How is CD water and different than toilet water?

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Old 05-19-2006, 09:01 PM
 
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My mom cloth diapered a lot of babies with a septic tank. It was fine.

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Old 05-19-2006, 09:57 PM
 
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We had a septic tank when my 2 youngest (of 5) sisters were in diapers and we (my mom) washed them at home w/no problem.

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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Old 05-19-2006, 10:31 PM
 
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That's the biggest noneselse I ever heard. We raised three children with septic tank. The diaper makes no difference. Poop is poop. Does he thing you flush the actual diaper down? I am kidding but that's how stupid it sounds. Get a different company to clean your tank.
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Old 05-19-2006, 10:46 PM
 
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There is a rating so many people per 1,000 gallon tank.

Cant remember right off hand but I think it may be 5 per 1,000 gallon tank.

your county health department may know.
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Old 05-19-2006, 10:57 PM
 
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I grew up with a septic tank that couldn't handle anything - we could only do a few loads of laundry a day and you could never use more than one (shower, dishwasher, laundry machine) at the same time LOL

but my septic tank now has been fine... so maybe that's like an old thing? you know? something that used to be true but no longer is but people still say it like it's gospel LOL

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Old 05-19-2006, 10:59 PM
 
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There are different size septic tanks, so keep in mind that those of you who CD on septic may have had a much larger tank. Septic systems have several parts, the tank and the leeching field where the water leaves and goes back into the ground. The land has to be able to accept a certain amount of water back at a particular rate to qualify for a particular size tank. Often lots near lakes, etc will have trouble qualifying for a larger tank. Generally around here they rate septic tanks by bedrooms (2 bed, 3 bed, 4 bed), etc because that is the size house allowed to be attached, the bedrooms being key to limiting the number of people using them.

Outside of exceeding the capacity of your septic system (and I think a 1,000 gallon tank would be considered a 3 bedroom system, so 5 people?), cloth diapers wouldn't add any additional problems. So if you are otherwise below the limits (like if there are only 3 people in your 3 bedroom house) then I would guess something else is causing the problems.

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Old 05-19-2006, 11:01 PM
 
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it does sounds strange, i mean wouldnt baby poop be easier for it to process than adult poop.


(wow that has to be the strangest message i have ever posted)
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Old 05-20-2006, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well, what he said was that i was using my washer too much. i have never really logged my washes, but i wash the CD's about 2x a week and wash them in one load of cold and then one load of hot water, so its adding quite a bit.
i never thought anything about it. we have a 4 bedroom house with 5 ppl (but one is the baby).
with the rains, our leachfield is pretty saturated and he said we couldnt wash (or shouldnt) for about 2 weeks, so E is in sposies right now. I hate it so!!!
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Old 05-20-2006, 01:07 AM
 
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I did cd's for about two years on our septic... but in the other post, I think you said it had rained a lot lately. We lived on what used to be an old river bed, our well went six foot before hitting water. Anyway, we had a bad year last year with the snow coming down from CO durring the spring-- the long and short of it was, with us having such a high water table and all the extra from the melts, our leachfield filled backwards and we ended up having our tank pumped twice in the year-- could very well be because you had a lot of rain; not a lot of diapers (which is just nuts).
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Old 05-20-2006, 01:32 AM
 
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I grew up in a 3 bedroom house, which housed 8 people for about 3 years (including a cloth diapered baby) before some of my sibs started aging/moving out and there was never a septic problem. I don't know how big the system was, but it was cheaply made house so I am sure they put in the smallest (cheapest) system the developer could get away with.

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Old 05-20-2006, 01:40 AM
 
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I don't know how much this would cost to do, since we bought our home this way, but our washer and dishwasher are considered 'gray' water and can be drained into a drain field or drainage ditch seperate from the tank. Ours drains out into the drainage ditch at the end of our yard. I could tell that my new high efficiency washer needed less suds when there was a pile of bubbles at the end of the pipe one day. Anyway, it keeps all that water that doesn't need to be broken down by bacteria out of the septic system.
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Old 05-20-2006, 01:47 AM
 
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Now that you say that about the grey water, I just thought of this-- duh (me brain dead), anyway, my hubby hooked up our washer so that it drains into two 55gal plastic barrels, that he fixed a water hose spicket (sp) to at the bottom; that's the water that I use for the garden right now. The biggest expense there was the drums and we bought those at a feed store for about $20 each.
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Old 05-20-2006, 01:57 AM
 
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oh crap! oh crap!! we just moved into a house thats on well water AND a septic tank! i did mention that we used cloth to our landlord and he didnt say anything about NOT using cloth or anything else. the one thing he did say was to NOT put oil, eggs, baking soda or was it powder??

anyways i did do a load of dipes the other night and it seemed ok..is there something that i need to be watching for when i do laundry, run dishwasher, take showers, etc, etc?
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Old 05-20-2006, 01:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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sorry i didnt post this earlier..the catalyst for all of this has been the flood waters in teh North East this last week. everywhere was flooded. we were lucky and didnt get flooded but did experience septic problems, which is why the septic guy came out. he told me not to wash for 2 weeks until the ground dried and that the washer was my biggest problem. he said i should get a front loader and that cd's were probably going to cause a lot of problems. of course i think that its JUST b/c of the flood waters, but i am a bit nervous. and i HATE sposies so i have to try to figure out how to be OK with this.
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Old 05-20-2006, 02:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommy2001
Now that you say that about the grey water, I just thought of this-- duh (me brain dead), anyway, my hubby hooked up our washer so that it drains into two 55gal plastic barrels, that he fixed a water hose spicket (sp) to at the bottom; that's the water that I use for the garden right now. The biggest expense there was the drums and we bought those at a feed store for about $20 each.
At some point the previous owners switched from well water to city water (well, not really...it's a rural water association). He's been tinkering with the well to get it going so that we can water our garden with it. Love those handy dh's!

Our house is on a hill, and the grey water drains in the front. Not sure I want big plastic barrels in the front yard?? But that reminds me that I saw two 55gal plastic barrels offered on freecycle in my area the other day. Might make this option cheaper for someone who couldn't afford to have drain lines dug to a gravel drain bed or ditch.
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Old 05-20-2006, 02:20 AM
 
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Did he say not to wash your clothes either?

Did he say not to flush the toilet often?

A standard top loading washer uses 40 gallons per load. If you are washing two loads a week for 2 full cycles that would use 640 gallons of water per month. If you have a standard toilet that is not really old it probably uses about 3.5 gallons per flush.

If your baby were potty trained he would probably be using and flushing the toilet at least 8 times a day. That would be 840 gallons per month. If he only used and flushed the toilet 6 times a day that would still be 630 gallons of water a month. I just don't see the arguement.
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Old 05-20-2006, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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we cant wash anything for (he said) 2 weeks. i am going to go for 1 week and see how it goes. he said cd's are putting a lot of strain to the system. of course, this guy is in the business of keeping stuff OUT of the septic, so i think he may be overly cautious.
its not the CD's so much as it is the amount of laundry i do. i used to be really really good about it when we were on a well, but now we have a water association providing water and i have to admit i hvae been less concerned. i was so grateful to be off well water b/c where we lived before got really dry in the summer and there was major water conservation (hey, i am an environmentalist, but when you HAVE to go do laundry at the laundry mat and your kids have to take baths in the same water and you have to use that water to flush your toilets, which you cant flush until someone does #2, well..it just gets old, yk?).
your calculations re: the toilet are interesting.
our home is a 4 bedroom home and there is a 1,000 gallon tank. considering that most 4 bedroom homes have 2-3 children, this home is certainly capable of supporting 5 ppl. if it werent, they wouldnt have been able to sell it to us. the only difference between when i bought the house and now is the baby (even though dh and i werent married or living together at the time, they would have had to calculate 2 adults).
the drain ditch is interesting...im sure its illegal, but im wondering how i would go about doing that.
even if its not required, it would be nice to get some of this water out of my septic.
thanks everyone
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Old 05-20-2006, 03:36 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aisraeltax
the drain ditch is interesting...im sure its illegal, but im wondering how i would go about doing that.
even if its not required, it would be nice to get some of this water out of my septic.
thanks everyone
I guess I should have been a little more clear on how ours is set up. Ours actually drains into our yard far from the drainage ditch. The only time it may get to the ditch is if it's recently rained or raining while I'm washing clothes, I suppose it might make it's way there with the rest of the rainwater. You probably should check with local utitilities on specific grey water regulations that they have. Laundry water is the lowest risk, and kitchen water is highest for things like microbes. You can lessen the risks by using earth-friendly chemicals (phosphate free) for laundry and dishwashing. We don't have a disposal, so no food goes down the drain, except what might be washed off in the dishwasher, which is minimal.

Also, it's best to have an area of the yard for it to drain into. Often called a drain bed. Septic systems have these underground where the excess drains off to a gravel bed underground. You could probably drain it into a drainage ditch/storm drainage if the grey water was treated first, but involves more than creating a space within your property for it to drain. It's not likely that it is illegal, but your area may have some regulations that need to be followed.
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Old 05-29-2006, 12:08 AM
 
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To fully appreciate what's going on here, here's some basic septic tank anatomy and physiology.

It's not the size of the septic tank that is causing your problems. It's how saturated or compacted or coated your leach field is. In the tank, solids (poop and toilet paper) sink. Fats and grease float to the top. In the middle is cleanish-dirty water. Your tank has a baffle, which is an elbow of pipe that allows the middle water to evacuate the tank, but not the solids or fats, into the leachfield where the water filters through layers of sand and gravel. If your leachfield is swamped, coated in grease or fabric softener and isn't allowing water to drain through the sand, you have a problem. If your baffle is broken or corroded, you also have a problem. Solids and fats will clog up your leachfield. So do tree roots, driving over the field (compacting the sand), or even a broken leachfield pipe. A healthy tank operates 'full'. Frequent pumping lowers the fat level to the height of the baffle and leachfield outlet, which will ruin the leachfield in no time at all. So don't worry if they say the tank is 'full' unless the level of solids is reaching the height of the baffle. It should always look full. Unless of course it's backing up into your yard or home. That shows a probl with the leachfield or baffle.
If the leachfield isn't swamped with water, it may be clogged. Call RotoRooter or a similar company that has high pressure hoses or snakes they feed up the leachfield and auger out clogs or roots. We just did that last week and it's buying us some time.
I've pm'ed you with graywater suggestions, and am battling the same situation in the same geographic area.

If you can, upgrading to a front loader is the most water and energy efficient change you can make. Pumping the wash water to a seldom used part of your yard or drainage ditch is illegal in nh, but rarely checked up on. Run the washer hose out a window or through pipes outside. Be sure to use nontoxic soaps with no whiteners, bleach, fabric softeners or phosphates to reduce harm to the enviroment. You may decide to use diapers that wash thoroughly with less water like flats and prefolds and microfiber soakers versus AIOs and thick fitteds.

Septic guy is probably just covering his bases. A top loader uses like 40 gal/wash, right? I've had to use the laundromat recently because of the flooding. Actually I liked it. It was a nice, quiet break away from the chaos of being cooped up at home during the floods. I left the kids with dh.
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Old 05-29-2006, 12:10 AM
 
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Oh, make sure your sump pump isn't draining into your septic tank. Your gutters too. I don't know if you have a new or old home, but sometimes the old yankee homes can be built kind of quirky. You don't want any rain water or basement water in the septic system at all.
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Old 05-29-2006, 01:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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we dont have problems with clogs as far as i know. the flooding caused the leachfield to be super satureated, which is why the guy recommended we not wash for 2 weeks.
i WISH i could do a front loader..thats the next thing on my list, but cant do it right now.
just did 2 loads of clothes today and everything seems to be working fine.
i need to think about the grey water though.
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Old 05-29-2006, 01:52 AM
 
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I wouldn't worry about it, we have a septic and I cloth diaper. I would say he doesn't know what he's talking about, he probably doesn't even know how to wash cloth diapers or anything. It no different then toilet water...that would be like him saying you can only go to the bathroom twice a day, no more, and that's just crazy...we are a family of five, with a septic and we are absolutely fine...no problems at all :-)
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Old 06-01-2006, 01:59 PM
 
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We've never had anything but septic, and I've been cd'ing for the last 5 years. In our last house, we did have issues with the system, but that made us unable to laundry of any sort for a few days (heavy rains & flooding) Poor dp out there digging in the rain to get to the tank to find out what was going on His favourite day : We had to leave the tank open for a few days while we had a new lid made so I got to watch how fast everything drained (pleasant)

Anyway, I've never worried about it. Save for that one time, everything kind of just hums along

mum to a crew...
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Old 06-14-2006, 04:26 PM
 
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We just recently moved out of town and into the country. Our septic system is less than efficient, and we haven't yet figured out all of the reasons. But the washing machine problem is no big deal.

There is very little plumbing involved here- you just have to take the washer's drain hose out of the current pipe, and put it into one that does not connect to the septic tank. A poster above mentioned running it out a window, and that would work, or you could extend some pvc from your laundry room, under the house, and out to a garden. PVC is cheap, so you can go as far as you need to. Discharging it into drums works as well.

A few caveats:

Most municipalities won't like this idea, so either check to be sure it is acceptable, or disguise it well.

There is much controversy about using human waste as fertilizer, and diapers = human waste. Perhaps disharging to a flower garden would be the best plan. . . . This isn't an issue we deal with, as our children are all older.

In general, reducing the load on your septic will make it last longer and work more effectively. Make sure you have low flow shower heads and toilets that use a small amount of water to flush. Check all of the faucets for drips and leaks.

We bought a front load washer when we moved in- the first new appliance I have ever purchased- and I love it!!! Besides the water savings, the clothes really do come out cleaner, and I use less detergent. The spin cycle also gets out alot more water than a top loader, so everything dries MUCH faster.
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Old 06-15-2006, 01:30 PM
 
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We're in VT and got LOTS of rain recently. We're on well water and have a septic and do LOADS of laundry (what with an 8 yr. old boy and a CDing baby, dad working at a forge and mommy in the garden ).

We've never had any problems - sometimes our leach field gets a little soggy and that's about it.

I wouldn't worry too much about what the septic guy said unless he CD-ed. Does he know this from experience?

Molly, mama to my 3 sweet boys.
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Old 07-04-2006, 10:25 AM
 
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That's what I was wondering- if it was the leaching field. The concern would be the water, not the poop. If the leaching field is saturated, there isn't anywhere for the water filling the tank to go. You'll end up with smelly potty water on your yard. What about using half cloth and half sposies? I'd also probably get a second opinion.

Mom to three and owner of Earthetarian Happy, healthy and handmade.
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