Installer enjoys working on volunteer projects to strengthen his community
Donating time and materials to Rebuilding Together Litchfield County fulfills George Sam’s desire to help people. Sam is co-owner of New Milford Septic Services, in New Milford, Connecticut. The charitable organization he works with provides veterans and low-income homeowners with critical home repairs.
One such case involved an old property with an outhouse. Contractors built a bathroom in the home, then the plumber set the toilet against the outside wall. Because the house sat on a concrete foundation, he connected the closet flange to a 90-degree fitting that just cleared the wall.
Meanwhile, Sam and two workers spent two days with a hammer drill chipping a 24- by 10- by 12-inch horizontal trough through the slab to the fitting. “We had to spell each other or collapse from exhaustion,” says Sam.
The crew connected the fitting to a 4-inch PVC pipe wrapped in rigid insulation, then poured lightweight concrete into the trough from the bathroom. They packed the trough from the outside with laminations of Waterplug hydraulic cement, then coated it with Thorobond bonding agent (Thoro Consumer Products/BASF Construction Chemicals).
The house had a 3-inch cast iron graywater pipe plumbed to an old septic tank feeding working stone trenches. Sam installed a 1,000-gallon polyethylene septic tank (Roth Industries) near the existing tank. Then the crew hand-dug a trench parallel to the foundation to connect the 4-inch lateral to the perpendicular graywater line.
“We were digging in caliche and hacking through tree roots,” says Sam. “It was tricky because the land was almost flat. We just made the 1/4-inch fall per 12 inches requirement.”
In another instance, a bank wouldn’t approve a home improvement loan until the owner proved the onsite system was not in a flood zone. However, no one knew where the system was.
“All the usual locating tools failed,” says Sam. “Fortunately, my crew has a sixth sense for finding tanks.” They located it in a field, then found the 40- by 20- by 4-foot stone bed. Bob Grossenbacher, owner of Grossenbacher Land Surveyors, mapped the system gratis. It was outside the flood zone and the homeowner had the proof.
Small rectangular lots complicated Sam’s third volunteer project in three years. Sewage from a failed metal septic tank was seeping back through the crawl space and into the bathroom. The tank was 5 feet from the house and at the end of the neighbor’s driveway.
When Grossenbacher located the lot lines, the house and tank were directly on one, and the offset radius of the homeowner’s well and neighbor’s well overlapped. Sam persuaded the local and county health departments to waive the septic permit fees, and the state health department to grant a variance for the wells.
“We couldn’t reach the back of the house via the owner’s driveway, so we obtained permission to use the neighbor’s drive,” says Sam. The crew replaced the existing tank with a Roth 1,000-gallon tank, with a stone bed leaching to sandy gravel.