Billingsley Engineering, we have the resources to furnish you
with all your plumbing and excavating needs. We provide a complete line of plumbing
services from soil tests, to designing and installing septic systems, inspection
of existing septic systems, and all your interior plumbing needs from new construction
to remodeling. We also can supply all your excavating and grading needs. If
you are looking for an all-in-one plumbing and excavator contractor, give us
a call!A Soil Test, is the first step for installing a new or replacement Private
Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (POWTS). The results of the soil test determine
what type of system will be required for a specific site.
The days of boring a hole and utilizing water to rate a soils hydraulic conductivity
are behind us. Now soil test are preformed by digging a hole with a backhoe
and analyzing each soil layer by its physical characteristics such as type,
structure, consistency, moisture content, particle size. Once these have been
determined, a hydraulic rating is assigned to each horizon.
Once a soil test has been completed, the septic system plans can be designed.
The plans must then be reviewed before a sanitary permit can be issued. A sanitary
permit must be obtained prior to the start of installing a new system. For a
conventional system, each County's Planning and Development Department approves
the plans. For a mound or holding tank, the plans must also be approved by the
Wisconsin State Department of Commerce. For new construction and remodeling,
a sanitary permit must be obtained before a building permit can be issued.
Please take a few minutes to become familiar with the different types of standard
septic systems available. If you are interested in alternative types of systems,
such as sand filter systems and pretreatment tanks, please give us a call for
more information. At Billingsley engineering, we have the tools needed for installing
systems in a timely manner and leaving your site in good condition when completed.
Are you building a new house or maybe remodeling your existing home? At Billingsley
Engineering, we supply quality workmanship for all your plumbing needs. Give
us a call and we can discuss how we can be of a service to you! Whether you
are in need of excavation for new construction, or are looking to move that
pile of dirt that's in your way. Give us a call and we will get on it right
away. We have the capability of digging basements, to cutting a new drive ways.
If you have any questions or need any additional information, please feel free
to contact via phone or email. Thank you for your time and we look forward to
supplying you with all your plumbing and excavating needs. The function of a
holding tank is to serve as a temporary reservoir for effluent from a house.
Unlike other types of systems, an absorption field is not utilized. Collected
effluent is pumped from the tank by a Licensed Waste Hauler into their truck
and hauled off. A three-bedroom home, usually requires a tank five feet in diameter
by eighteen feet long. This tank has a volume of 3000 gallons and is constructed
of carbon steel. The size and volume of the tank depends on the number of bedrooms
in the house. An alarm float is installed in the tank and is connected to a
visual and audible alarm inside the house. The alarm is to let the homeowner
know that the tank needs to be pumped as soon as possible.
In July of 1999, the Wisconsin Department of Commerce issued a Code requiring
that if a holding tank is installed a water meter must be installed, inside
the house, on the incoming water line along with an outside reader. This meter
must be installed by a contractor with a Master Plumber License, such as Billingsley
A holding tank is one of the most restricted types of systems that can be installed
in Wisconsin. The following criteria must be met:
· The soil and site cannot be suitable for any other Wisconsin Department
of Commerce approved Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (POWTS). (ie.
A mound or similar system must be ruled unsuitable) · The property must
have holding tank "rights". This can be checked by contacting your
local County Planning and Development Department.
· A holding tank pumping agreement form needs to be signed indicating
that as the homeowner; responsibility will be taken to have the tank pumped
as required (generally every three to four weeks).
Holding tanks are generally installed in sites that are to small for a different
type of system, or the water table in the area is to high to allow for proper
treatment of the effluent (wastewater). Due to the high level of maintenance
and frequency of pumping for a holding tank system, this type of system, in
the long run, costs the homeowner more money. A Conventional Septic System is
the least expensive and least complex absorption type of system that can be
installed. The entire system is below the ground with the exception of the septic
tank riser. This riser is placed above the surface to allow for easy access
to the filter.
Two types of conventional systems can be installed. The first is the standard
system that consists of a gravel cell and distribution laterals. The other type
of system (shown above) utilizes diffusion chambers, which create a void in
the soil that allows for water to collect until it peculates through the soil
down to the water table. At Billingsley Engineering we install the diffusion
type system because we believe it allows for a greater absorption area. This
will increase the life span of the system.
A Conventional Septic System utilizes only one septic tank and an absorption
field. The tank shown above is a double-compartment tank. A septic tank for
a three-bedroom house is approximately six feet wide, eight feet long, by five
feet tall. The size and volume of the tank depends on the number of bedrooms
in the house. It is constructed using pre-cast concrete and is watertight. All
the joints on the risers are sealed with a tar based epoxy which forms and sticks
to the risers when installed. The center wall inside the septic tank creates
a barrier to keep the solids in the first half of the tank. The outlet of the
tank has a filter that will stop any solids larger than 1/32" from exiting
the tank should solids pass to the second half of the tank.
As effluent water is retained in the septic tank, the solids settle to the bottom
of the tank and fats float to the top creating a soft layer of crust. As this
is occurs, natural bacteria biodegrade the majority of the solids leaving a
partially treated zone of water in the middle of the tank.
The partially treated effluent then flows through the filter and into the absorption
field. The absorption field for this type of system consists of sand and gravel.
As the effluent percolates through the sand it is naturally filtered leaving
all of the bacteria and harmful substances behind before reentering the ground
This type of septic system became known as a mound due to the fact that the
entire absorption field is above the ground. As you can see from the above graphic,
the mound consists of nothing more than sand, gravel, and top soil. Characteristics
of a mound, such as length, width, and height, are determined by the soil test
performed on the site. The length and width of the mound are determined by the
hydraulic rating of the soil. The height of a mound varies based on the depth
of the sites limiting factor for the soil. A limiting factor is the elevation
in which either a high ground water table exists or bedrock is found. To learn
more about limiting factors please see the Soil Test page of this web site.
The approximate size of a mound for a three bedroom house is 25' wide, 90' long,
and 4' tall.
Now that you know what determines the physical characteristics of a mound; lets
go over the functionality of the mound. As the effluent (wastewater) leaves
the house, it first passes through two tanks. The first of these tanks is the
septic tank. The septic tank (shown above) is know as a double compartment tank
and is pre-cast, watertight concrete. For a three-bedroom home, it is typically
six feet wide, eight feet long, five feet tall, with 1000 gallons in capacity.
The size and volume will change depending on the number of bedrooms in the house.
The primary purpose of the septic tank is to act as a temporary reservoir that
allows time for the solids to settle to the bottom and fats to float to the
top creating a soft layer of crust. As the effluent is retained in the tank,
natural bacterial biodegrade the majority of the solids leaving a partially
clarified liquid. Inside the septic tank is a baffle (wall) that retains the
majority of the solids and fats in the first compartment. This, in combination
with an outlet filter, keeps solids from flowing down to the pump tank. The
filter must be cleaned periodically to keep it from becoming plugged.
After the effluent has been partially treated and filtered in the septic tank,
it flows down to the second tank, the pump tank. The pump tank, like the septic
tank, is constructed of pre-cast concrete and is watertight. However, it does
not have two compartments. It typically is six feet wide, seven feet long, five
feet tall, with a volume of at least 770 gallons. It may be larger depending
on individual site restrictions.
Inside the pump tank is an effluent pump operated by two separate floats. The
first float controls the pump on and off settings. The second float is connected
to the alarm box that is mounted inside the house. This alarm will sound, audible
and visual, if there is any malfunction with the effluent pump.
A water resistant junction box is mounted on the pump tank riser. The electrical
connections for the pump and alarm are made inside a junction box. All risers
that are above the ground surface have warning labels and are locked with a
cable and padlock. It is important to ensure that the risers are locked at all
times to avoid accidental entry that could result in injury or death.
The absorption cell, commonly know as the mound, is where the effluent treatment
remains until it reenters the underground water table. The mound consists of
a layer of sand, a cell of gravel placed in the middle, and then covered with
topsoil that will support vegetation. Typically, two laterals (PVC pipe) 1 ½"
in diameter are placed in the gravel with 3/16" holes drilled in the bottom.
When the effluent pump in the pump tank turns on, the water is pumped into the
laterals and is dispersed evenly through the holes in the laterals and into
the gravel. As the water percolates through the gravel and sand, it is naturally
filtered leaving all of the bacterial and harmful substances behind before entering
the water table.
Proper maintenance of a septic system is essential in determining the life span
of a system. It is in the hands of the homeowner to ensure that maintenance
is performed and recorded for future reference.
Maintenance of a septic system begins inside the house. The following is a list
a helpful hints:
· Water should be conserved whenever possible.
· Leaking faucets should be repaired. A faucet that only drips can still
amount to enough water to cause a problem.
· Tasks that consume a lot of water should be done in moderation. For
example, it is better to do one load of laundry every other day than to do four
loads on Saturday.
· Water softeners should not discharge into the septic system.
· Harsh chemicals such as cleaning detergents should not be discharged
into the system
· Fats & grease should not be discharged into a faucet or sink. Even
if they are heated up before hand, the will solidify in the transfer pipes or
in the tank. When they solidify, a crust layer will form creating a dam that
will restrict flow.
There are also procedures that can be done outside to help increase the systems
· Clean the septic tank filter every six months or earlier if needed.
· Have the Septic tank pumped every one to two years.
· Avoid heavy traffic above and around the tanks and absorption field
· Divert water away from the septic tanks and absorption field. This
will be done at installation but help with diverting gutters and such away from
A significant investment has been put into the system. A small amount of maintenance
will go a long way and will save money in the long run. Nothing is worse then
when a system fails and either backs up into the house or bubbles up in the
Using a private septic system is like owning a car, if periodic maintenance
is not completed; the car will not perform to expectations and may prematurely
fail. The same holds true for a septic system. To increase the life expectancy
and prevent malfunctions of the Mound or Conventional Septic System, the following
guidelines should be followed:
1. Due to the nature of the functionality of a septic system, extensive traffic
should be avoided around and above the absorption cell and tanks. If the soil
on the downslope edge of a mound is compacted due to heavy traffic, the transfer
of water through the soil horizontally can decrease which may lead to a prematurely
failed system. Heavy traffic over the tanks may cause them to cave in.
2. Extensive use of oil, high sudsing laundry detergents, chemicals, or any
other anti-bacterial substances should not be discharged into the system. The
use of anti-bacterial hand soaps is not considered to be excessive use and will
not damage the system.
3. Any inorganic materials (diapers, cigarette butts, plastics, etc.) should
not be placed in the system. These materials are not biodegradable and the bacterial
in the system will not be able to consume them.
4. Excessive use of water will prevent the system from performing to its fullest
capabilities. The daily use of water should be kept within the maximum design
flow (150 gallons/bedroom).
5. In order to avoid surges in the amount of water used, laundry and other large
volume water uses should be averaged out. For example, one load of wash could
be done each night for three days instead of three loads of wash in one night.
This is one way that will help balance the bacterial level in the septic tank.
6. The pump tank of a mound is equipped with an alarm, visual & audible,
to indicate if the system has malfunctioned. If this occurs, immediate action
should be taken to contact the installer. If a problem has occurred with the
effluent pump, damage to the distribution cell can occur if proper precautions
are not taken when powering the system back up.
The above guidelines also apply for a holding tank with the exception of number
5 & 6. If harsh chemicals of inorganic material are placed into the tank,
the treatment facility in which the effluent is hauled to will be adversely