Alabama Installers Build a Supplementary Onsite System for Nonprofit Group

Contractors and suppliers join forces to help Exodus House realize addition of five bedrooms at an antebellum mansion

Alabama Installers Build a Supplementary Onsite System for Nonprofit Group

 The first trench is filled with Infiltrator chambers, while workers dig the second and third trenches in series. (Photos courtesy of Geiger’s Septic Services)

Interested in Septic Tanks?

Get Septic Tanks articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Septic Tanks + Get Alerts

Each year, the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association picks several projects as part of its Helping Hands Across Alabama to donate new septic systems. One of the recipients in 2022 is the Exodus Ranch, a charitable organization that houses at-risk children.

Marc Geiger, owner of Geiger’s Septic Service in Opelika, Alabama, is the representative for District 9 of the AOWA and an advocate for its programs. He has been involved with Exodus Ranch for the past eight years, pumping their tanks and performing routine maintenance.

“They take in homeless children, administer them, home-school them, have them do community service and everything they can to help give the kids a healthy start,” Geiger says. “It’s such a great program and recently, the house added on making room for more kids.”

The Exodus Ranch house, also located in Opelika, is a large antebellum mansion which previously had six bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a laundry room and kitchen that houses 12 to 20 children. The addition includes five bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a large laundry room containing three washers, dryers and a large laundry sink, thus requiring further wastewater capacity.

The ranch reached out to Geiger during construction, and he took over from there. “I said, ‘let me see what the association can do, and let’s see if we can get all this material and time donated,’” he says.

Helping out

The efforts from Geiger and the AOWA paid off. It didn’t take long for companies and local businesses to come forward and provide what they were able.

“Infiltrator Water Technologies donated 720 feet of their Quick4 Plus Chambers with help from Habitat for Humanity,” Geiger says. “And two local businesses, Mitchell Concrete and Wells Septic Service, each donated a 2,000-gallon precast concrete septic tank, And a local plumbing supplier, Thompson’s Supply, donated pipe, fittings and filters.”

When all material and supplies were accounted for, multiple installers donated their time and equipment to build the Exodus Ranch septic system, which would have cost the ranch approximately $30,000 if not for the gifts.

Along with Geiger’s services, Davis Concrete provided an installer and an excavator, Williams Grading volunteered an installer/operator, Morgan Backhoe Service and Zellner Backhoe Service provided a backhoe and workers to install pipe in the septic tanks, and Hovey’s Precast Concrete provided some 4-inch pipe and safety lids for septic tanks.

Geiger also used the project to help volunteer installers. “I got with the AOWB (Alabama Onsite Wastewater Board), who handles all of our licenses and regulations, and they gave us permission to give the guys involved continuing education credits for volunteering their time,” he says. 

Alabama requires continuing education credits every year for installers depending on what license they hold. “These guys would rather be digging in dirt to get their credits than sitting in a classroom,” Geiger says.

Site conditions and installation

The existing septic system was left in place and is still being used to support the original part of the home. The new system is installed on the opposite side of the house to serve the addition. The existing drainfield is located at the southwest corner of the house, with the new drainfield running parallel pushed further away from the house.

“At the time COVID hit, they had 17 children and the executive director and her husband living there,” Geiger says. “With being quarantined and home-schooling the children, the existing septic system was having to be pumped quite often. They have since shifted a large portion of their water usage to the new septic system.”

Soil type around the house is sandy clay loam, and according to Geiger, heavy on the clay in areas. The project was delayed a few weeks due to rain, but once conditions were dry, the crews were able to break ground and complete the task efficiently.

“We set the tanks and piped those in in one day, and the next day we did the disposal field,” Geiger says. “It took about three days total because we had some grading to do after installing everything.”

The quick install was thanks to the many hands that came to help and Geiger’s supervision. “I had two companies come out one day and help set the tanks and pipe the house into the tanks,” Geiger says. “And the others came out the following days and helped me install the drain field. Several of these companies help every year with our Helping Hands projects.”

Equipment was in abundance as many of the volunteering installers brought machines. A Caterpillar 420F backhoe was used to dig the holes for the septic tanks and Geiger used a Bobcat T190 skid-steer and a Kubota KX057-5 excavator for clearing the trenches. Other equipment included a pair of John Deere 60G excavators and a Kubota SLV75 skid-steer which was used to help with final grading. 

System operation

Plumbing exits the new addition via 4-inch Schedule 40 PVC pipe with a 4-inch clean-out installed before the first septic tank. After the clean-out, 4-inch PVC flows by gravity into the first septic tank located 30 feet away from the house.

The first tank is a 2,000-gallon precast concrete tank with no internal baffles. A 4-inch pipe connects the first septic tank to a second, 2,000-gallon concrete tank. The second tank is baffled and contains a 6-inch TUF-TITE effluent filter at the exit. Both septic tanks were equipped with Polylok riser safety screens and lids.

“Every year it seems we lose three or four kids to falling in septic tanks,” Geiger says. “Any time we install a septic now, we are putting safety screens on.”After exiting the second septic tank, wastewater travels another 35 feet through 4-inch PVC before entering the first of four drainfield trenches. Trenches are positioned parallel and run 180-feet long and are spaced approximately six feet apart with crossovers between trenches installed every 60 feet.

“In Alabama, if you go more than 100 feet in a run, it’s required to cross over at least twice,” Geiger says. “This system uses serial distribution. Well basically, it’s a combo system. The first two lines are level, then from the second to third line, and from the third to fourth line is serial distribution.”

With this arrangement, effluent fills the first two rows simultaneously. When they have reached capacity, effluent flow from the second line into the third, and if that fills to capacity, effluent will drain out of the third line into the fourth.

Infiltrator Quick4 Plus Standard Chambers were used and buried on average around 30-inches deep.

Now completed, the Exodus Ranch is equipped with a septic system to handle its growing size and residency.

“The folks at Exodus Ranch do an outstanding job of taking in homeless children,” Geiger says. And with all the good they do for the kids in need, Geiger and the long list of volunteers and donors were happy to lend a hand.  


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.