Creating Maintenance-Friendly Onsite Systems

A father/son team works together to design systems that are easy for service providers to access and maintain

Creating Maintenance-Friendly Onsite Systems

Larry Stephens of Stephens Consulting Services looks over the plans for a system that he is designing.

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Maintaining system permits and drawing samples occasionally result in changes to the engineering side of the business for Larry Stephens, P.E., and his son, Mike Stephens. Larry Stephens runs Stephens Consulting Services, and Mike Stephens manages SCS Systems, the operations and maintenance branch. Both companies are in Haslett, Michigan. 

“Every component has a limited life span,” Mike Stephens says. “Therefore, every system should be designed around how easily parts can be maintained or replaced. Many systems aren’t service provider-friendly, and we often see evidence of it in the field.” Service technicians share their experiences with Larry Stephens, which helps shape his design process. 

For example, the company used to design the pump discharge pipe to exit the dose tank below the frost line at a depth of 48 inches. The weight of the soil caused the pipe to break at the 90-degree elbow, and Stephens’ crew couldn’t reach the $2 part without a confined-space entry. 

“We informed Dad, and he routed the discharge pipe up through the riser, then turned it 90-degrees down,” Mike Stephens says. “If the elbow fails now, we can hand-dig and fix it without a confined-space entry team.” 

Stephens’ crews service numerous community systems, many without a water supply to clean effluent filters and other components. After bringing the situation to Larry Stephens’ attention, he added a quick-connect to the pump discharge assembly, enabling technicians to attach sections of Piranha SP12 3/4-inch pressure hose rated at 2,500 psi. “It saves considerable time and enhances cleaning,” Mike Stephens says. 

Besides ease of maintenance, Larry Stephens' designs specify robust, energy-efficient equipment that provide high levels of treatment with mostly passive mechanics. When possible, he specifies drip dispersal, EZflow by Infiltrator Water Technologies drainage products, sand filter modules (Eljen), AdvanTex units (Orenco Systems), aeration equipment (Air Diffusion Systems), plastic tanks and chambers (Infiltrator Water Technologies), fiberglass tanks (Xerxes or Containment Solutions), and TCOM/VCOM/time-dose controls, turbine pumps and pump vaults (Orenco Systems). 

Read more about SCS Systems in the current issue of Onsite Installer.


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