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i turn REALTY into REALiTY

Talk Dirty to Me…

Concrete pipes

A large scale version of my septic system

No, this isn’t about the song from the musical group Poison. Nor is this an explicit request. It’s more like a session of potty talk for grown-ups.

Living with a Septic System

I grew up in the city. We had sewers. When you live on sewers, you don’t worry about what happens once you’ve done your business. That’s because the sewer company maintains the pipes once it leaves your property. When you live on septic, the pipes never leave your property. That means your business remains your business…

My Woodinville Home…

Is on a septic system. Actually, my home shares the land with the septic system. Until recently, I never gave it another thought.  I had the tank pumped out as recommended by the King County Health Department. That’s when my troubles began.

The Vanishing As-Built

Before a septic system can be installed, it has to be designed. The design is appropriately called a septic as-built because it shows on paper where the tanks and pipes are placed in the ground “as it was built”. It is also supposed to show measurements from a reference point (usually the house it serves) so the septic pumpers know exactly where the tank lids are, and where to begin digging.

Unfortunately, the As-Built is just a document recorded with the county, and like any other piece of paper, it can get lost. Mine did. Actually, it wasn’t so much lost as it was “displaced”. A contractor who did some work on a neighboring septic system mistakenly filed his paperwork under my tax parcel ID, which “over-wrote” my document in the system. As a result, when I requested an As-Built for my home, it retrieved my neighbor’s paperwork. The lesson to be learned here: Request a copy of your As-Built to keep in your own files!!! Call me if you don’t know how to obtain your As-Built from King County.

Pumpers vs. Technicians – What’s the difference?

Pumpers are the folks who come and clean out your system. They uncover your tanks, pump out the sludge, check the baffles on your tank, close it up again, and leave with your %^&*$. The average cost for pumping is around $500-$600 every few years, depending on the type of septic system you have.

A technician is someone who specializes in the actual system design, installation and/or repair. In general, I would not trust a pumper to inspect my septic system. Case in point: when my system backed up, the pumper told me that my D-Box (distribution box) was crushed (without him even digging it up), and that my system appeared to have failed (because he saw some dirt flowing back into my pipe. He then suggested that an inspection was warranted for an additional $250 fee to determine to what extent repairs would be needed. $250 later, he told me that my drainfield was shot (failed) and needed $3,000-$5,000 in repairs.

Get a Second Opinion!

I’m cheap. And I’m skeptical. I think those qualities make me a great Realtor when representing my clients because I do my due diligence. It also means I don’t just believe everything someone says without proof. So, I got a second opinion from a trusted resource who specializes in septic design and repair. As it happens, my septic drainfield was fine. In fact, 75% of my drainfield had never been used due to a blockage of dirt and sediment in my pipes. Let me explain how this could occur:

Back in the old days when my home was built (circa 1960’s), septic drainfields were created using concrete pipes about 12″ long laid end to end, creating a long continuous pipe. The gray water from the tanks drained through these pipes and seeped out between the seams. Unfortunately, sand and silt also seeped in, causing blockages.  Newer systems use PVC pipe that are tight-lined (no seams) together and have small weep holes on the underside for the gray water to escape. Here is a video of what my concrete pipes look like.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSsinwyeOpU[/youtube]

I hired a local contractor to assist me in clearing out the blockage and all was well again. Additionally, my D-Box was not crushed. It had some minor damage but was easily repaired by the same contractor who help me unblock my pipes.

Northlake Concrete Products has earned my respect and business for life.

Referrals are a significant part of my, and any other respectable business. In fact, they are the sole reason I’m still selling real estate in this slow economy. When I find a company who has done right by me, I want to make sure they are acknowledged and that I do my best to pass their name along to others who may need their services. Northlake Concrete Products is the company who help me correctly diagnose and repair my septic system. Bob Kiens and his son, Anthony did a fantastic job at a reasonable price to help me get my system back up and running smoothly. They can be reached at (360) 668-8500.

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