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Effluent Seepage Pit Saves Space

ALSO: * Circuit interrupters; * Drilling tiles

October 10, 1998|From Popular Mechanics

Question: I am building a new home and was told that my septic system needs to use a seepage pit rather than a leaching field. Can you explain what a seepage pit is and why it's necessary?

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Answer: In residential sewage disposal, a seepage pit is used instead of a leaching field when the lot the house is on is too steep to allow building a field. The pit allows effluent to percolate into the ground the way a leaching field does, but it takes up less surface area. Sewage leaving a house settles in a septic tank before it flows into the pit.

The pit's bottom should be filled with 6 to 12 inches of coarse gravel, and the space between the pit liner and the surrounding soil with 3 to 6 inches of coarse gravel. The specific amount of gravel depends on local codes.

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Q My TV and VCR are plugged into an outlet that my kids can reach. It has a childproof cover. Would I gain additional protection from a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet? Are there disadvantages, other than cost, of having a GFCI breaker in the panel box versus one in an outlet?

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A GFCI outlet receptacle certainly provides additional protection against a shock hazard. To do this, the circuit in a GFCI monitors the current in the "hot" and "neutral" lines.

Under normal conditions, these two currents are always equal. If the circuit detects a difference between them as little as 5 milliamps, it interrupts the power in as little as one-fortieth of a second. However, childproof covers on an outlet are effective, and it shouldn't be necessary to install a GFCI outlet.

A GFCI receptacle has one advantage over a GFCI installed in a circuit breaker. The GFCI circuit breaker monitors the branch circuit. With it, there is a greater chance of nuisance tripping caused by a buildup of leaking currents due to deteriorated or damaged sections of insulation, multiple splices and moisture accumulation.

When a GFCI breaker trips, the entire branch circuit goes out. When a GFCI receptacle trips, it de-energizes just itself, or the rest of the branch that follows it, depending on how the electrician has it installed.

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Q How do you drill in bathroom wall tiles? I would like to put rails in the shower area.

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A One method is to place a finish nail on the tile and tap it with a hammer to score the glazing. Bore on the scored mark with a masonry bit.

The second method is to buy a carbide- or diamond-tipped drill to bore the hole. This eliminates the need to score the glazing. The diamond-tipped drill is more expensive but preferable to the carbide-tipped bit.

Both bits are available at hardware and industrial supply stores. Use a variable-speed drill with these bits so you can drill at a slow speed.

To submit a question, write to Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019. The most interesting questions will be answered in a future column.

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