sand filter

Started by Mia, January 08, 2005, 11:35:02 PM

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were are building a home on a hillside, & have to put in a sand filter system.  the soil is mostly clay, slopes to the west.  in western Oregon.  I know it would be labor-intensive, but can we do it ourselves?  whether we do it ourselves or contract out the job, anything we should look out for?  thanks.


Sand filters on clay hillsides here are exactly what we have major problems with around here.  They turn into sand bathubs full to the top with water and cease to function. There are different designs and some may work okay.   You may want to research how they have worked for others in your area.  Possibly the engineer or building department will guarantee it will work without problems?   Fat chance of that-- but they do love to spend your money!

Make sure you drain runoff from the hillside above the filter away, or that the filter design prevents the rain runoff from filling it up.  

Whether you could do it or not depends on quite a few things.  Make sure the building department doesn't require a licensed contractor to do the work.  It used to be that an owner builder could do anything he wanted himself, but as government takes more and more control of our lives, now some of them won't allow it, whether it is constitutionally legal for them to have that power over us or not.  

The next thing is to get the plans for the system and study them, see if you understand them or can get help to understand them or possibly someone to assist you.  If you can read the plans and understand, run the equipment  or hire it done and do the things as specified and pass any inspections by the local authorities, then possibly you can do it yourself and save some money.

Link to explanation of one type

Other information


Different kind of sand filter.  

I'm only familiar with them as the ones where you half-fill a (one sidewall cut out, set with that side down) loader tire--or 55gallon drum--with sand, set it to receive greywater from an outbuilding or very small cottage.  One keeps it covered to prevent a sand bathtub.  The green stuff on top is what treats the water--until it gets so thick that it just clogs--scrape most of it off and keep on going.

I think in this part of the country they ask for a kind of raised septic tank drain field built onto the property.   Don't think it's called sand filter (mound system?).

And I've heard that in parts of Texas the authorities are asking for septic tank effluent to be pumped and sprayed like an irrigation system.

But if any of those (except the loader tire version) is called for, it might be worth looking for someone who can do an engineered wetland--maybe for everything, maybe in combination with a composting toilet.


The rules about testing the soil, designing and installing a septic system are regulated and specified in most localities by the county or city health department.

Here in WA the system must be designed and installed by a licensed person who knows the local soils and what works.

There are installers who will work with home owners and let them do some of the work, with their inspection, of course. But this is not something you want to do on your own unless you know exactly what you are doing. It's not rocket science (at least a standard system isn't), but there are many variations and new things and new codes being devised all the time.

It looks like Mia with her clay soil will be required to do some sort of alternative system - this means it will be trickier and more expensive I expect.