Going Off Grid With The Sewer

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Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 6, 2017 - 03:19pm PT
I just learned that I have a seriously damaged sewer lateral that runs 50 feet under a city street (yes, it is the homeowners responsibility). A simple relining (12-15k) will not work. At least one hole will have to be opened on the street. The estimates range from 20K+ to 46k.

Someone jokingly said that pumping a port-a-potty would be cheaper. Then it dawned on me, go off grid. I already have solar. I am thinking I could buy a pair of composting toilets and build a big cistern to hold gray water for less than 20k. More eco-friendly and no more sewer charges.

Moral of the story - when buying a house spent 150 bucks to have a camera run down the sewer. I have owned for 30 years so that might not have helped me.

Comments on composting toilets and gray water processing to city code?

edit: looks like the first obstacle is kitchen sink water, not allowed on a gray water system.

fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Dec 6, 2017 - 03:31pm PT
Holy crap! Well, maybe not holy...

So that cost falls on you only for that lateral repair or is it shared by multiple property owners?

Your local sewage requirements/code would likely best be located through your town hall and building inspector but I'm going out on a limb guessing that portapotties and some gray water drain wouldn't cut it for a permanent solution. Here they require a permanent tie-in to public sewage or an approved septic system for a certificate of occupancy.

How much land and elevation from the house->outside terrain do you have? Enough for a properly constructed septic tank and fields?

Home ownership sucks... but it's not as bad as a boat.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
Terence Wilson greeneck alleghenys,ny,
Dec 6, 2017 - 03:38pm PT
I own an incinerating toilet.
Incinolet,American made and reliable as long as you have enough power.
I barely do and I live totally of grid.
If I were to put in a septic system ,it would cost over 30k.
A properly designed grey water system can work with a kitchen sink,just no solids and a grease trap.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2017 - 05:01pm PT
Nobody to share the cost with. No way I could but a septic system in, pretty urban here. The sewer line is good for gray water, but solids are going to clog it up quickly. What happened is the lateral sunk at the down connection to the main (city pipe) and separated, the down pipe is partially blocking the flow. I am seriously considering installing some type of toilet to eliminate the solid wastes and leave the water flowing to the sewer since it will not clog.

Home ownership sucks... but it's not as bad as a boat.

hahahaha, I have both, nobody is allowed to crap on the boat, luckily the dock is next door to the head (bathroom to you landlubbers)

clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Dec 6, 2017 - 05:05pm PT
Try other companies for bids and solutions.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 6, 2017 - 05:08pm PT
I had a new lateral run about 10 years ago for 4 large.
You need to shop around, there are some honest plumbers.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 6, 2017 - 05:09pm PT
I saw a lot of different setups in Alaska. I had an Incinolet and it worked fine even if you were downwind. The compost toilets are more like science projects. They don't work well in the cold. It seems that local, county or state health regs will be your biggest concern but those don't concern some who do off-grid.

An interesting side note is that most people in homes with a sewer hookup are rarely concerned about what goes down the drain. If you have any other system you should be very aware of what goes where.
xCon

Social climber
909
Dec 6, 2017 - 05:10pm PT
worth it if you can put off until the next recession...
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2017 - 05:14pm PT
I just got off the phone and have a guy coming this week to look at fixing the junction at the lateral and main, the expensive fix, he is talking 10k which is more reasonable. I still have to get the lateral relined, but I can do that off my own property so I have more options, like digging it up and opening it myself then subbing out the relining.

what is "4 large"

Kinda want to convert one toilet to a non-flushing, even if i have sewer. Sounds like the future, sort of like electric cars 25 years ago.

Thanks wilbeer and Wayno for the Incinolet reference. They look good except for the energy consumption. 1kW per flush is a big expensse, we have expensive power. I have solar but I barely break even right now.

Do you run a cycle every time you uses the Incinolet
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
Dec 6, 2017 - 06:09pm PT
Tell no-one from the City... that is looking for big dollar trouble. Just go get bunch of dog poop bags from PetsMart. Pinch in these and just leave them on a local trail or in a park like everyone else. They will never figure it out.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2017 - 06:15pm PT
Package it and deliver it, hell no Russ, I am all about cutting out the middleman



but I doubt my tenant will be onboard for that solution, she complains when the garbage cans smell.
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Dec 6, 2017 - 06:15pm PT
I love the blue doggy bag approach...But the city is going to get suspicious when they find corn and peanuts in the bags...
WBraun

climber
Dec 6, 2017 - 06:26pm PT
They'll know you did it, brain rot, since you keep mentioning it ....
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 6, 2017 - 06:28pm PT
Yo Jon....Angela and I are off grid in Patagonia and we like it. A little extra work but you feel like you’re accomplishing something.
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Dec 6, 2017 - 06:34pm PT
I don't chomp corn...At least not on video...
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Dec 6, 2017 - 07:24pm PT
I guess that is Amazon's BMO now.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Dec 6, 2017 - 07:43pm PT
An interesting side note is that most people in homes with a sewer hookup are rarely concerned about what goes down the drain. If you have any other system you should be very aware of what goes where.

I worked at a ski cabin once which had an ancient septic system ( now rebuilt to connect to sewer ) and I sure had fun drawing cartoons explaining to people - women especially - what they should NOT put down the loo.

Grin.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2017 - 07:57pm PT
What type of toilets do you have Jim?
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 6, 2017 - 08:28pm PT
Man up - a mini excavator runs $300 / day, maybe throw in a saw for $100 to get through the street. Pipe and repair couplings are cheap. It's a 4 hr job for 2 pros, a full wknd for a noob.

Just the junction is ez, 10k sounds high, I wouldn't even think of replacing the full run unless there is confirmed damage to it.

Those guys with the camera are a-holes - cha-ching is all they want to hear from you. $46k for 50 ft of sewer is a joke. They get the balls to ask for that from people way too desperate to get their toilet back, don't be that customer. Good luck.
fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Dec 6, 2017 - 08:57pm PT
Depends entirely on the local regulations. If you were to rent your own excavating equipment here and go digging up public utilities without the proper licenses/insurance/permits you'd find yourself in a much worse place really quickly.
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