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House Septic Ventilation System


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In the process of building a new house and purchasing and renting properties in Costa Rica I have noticed that often times the system of ventalation for the septic is non existant or marginal. I have seen this in old, but also in relatively new construction. Specifically non exisistant traps in the drain of the shower, and other sinks, etc.


This topic might be of interest if you building or preparing to purchase a house.


You might consider the following when constructing or renting,


Does you current shower drain have a trap?

Do you have a vent stack on the roof?

Do all sinks, lava manos, etc have traps?

Is your greywater separate from septic or aguas negras with a separate tank or separator?


I recently encountered a mult unit project which was recently built without any ventalation stacks.

When constructing our new house we installed a double vent stack that is suggested when you have bathrooms on 2 levels. It is used to reduce the vacuum when both toilets or other drains are used at the same time.




Edited by chunchie2
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Speaking of this ... I have noticed sometimes here in CR that there is this odor in the bathrooms, and am wondering if it is somehow connected to the septic tank systems? At first I was thinking it was ... you know ... the trash can ... if you know what I mean, and I think that you do. (for those who have not been introduced yet the joys of CR bathrooming, you do not flush the toilet paper. Yeah. Think about it.) But, it's not the trash can. Then I thought I wasn't cleaning the toilet enough, and started cleaning that mother several times a day. Odor still there. Sometimes it seems to be coming from the shower drain ... but the grey water is not connected to the septic system, the grey water goes out to the street. Sometimes it seems to be coming from the toilet ... but a toilet freshly scrubbed and bleached. We are the top apartment in a 3-apartment building, I think it's fairly new.


Anyone else notice this?

Edited by stewart.tb
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i was amazed that there was no vent stack for any of the plumbing in my just recently purchased casa that was designed and built by an architect and his son. And yes, occasionally there would be that "septic smell" depending on wind, rain and use and who knows what. It got so bad one night that my wife had to sleep with a towel over her face. The next morning the tank was cleaned, it didn't need it! The problem turned out to be that there was no house trap on either the "black" water or the "gray" water lines. House traps are essential to keep smells from "peculation" back up the system especially if there is no vent stack through the roof.

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In the house where I was living in Atenas, the sewage would sometimes back up into the downstairs shower, and once it came up in the washer drain pipe. Yuck and double yuck. That was a new house. Besides the lack of traps or vents, have you ever seen the size of pipes they use for draining into the septic tank? They are about half or 1/3 the size they should be. Maybe 2 inches ...

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There you go again, Shea, painting everyone and every place with the same brush! (Like that artist allusion? :rolleyes: )


Not all houses have too-small wastewater pipes. And if there was sewage backing up into your drain pipes, there was a serious problem - maybe a too-small pipe, maybe something else.


Some houses have standard 4" drain pipes and some have smaller pipes.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 8 months later...

We had a really nice house built by a "primo" architect and builder. Everything exceeded expectations, except the septic!


The system is so loose that it vents all over the place, and yes, we get odours. If I had 1 do over, it would be insisting on a NA style plumbing stack and vent.


I did specify P Traps on all drains, but when you take a shower upstairs, you can hear the water freefall to the ground level. So P Traps, not really. And pipes in concrete are not an easy fix. So...live with it.


And not flushing TP was one cultural thing I could not embrace. Our digester is large enough to take grey and black water with TP.


Off topic but the best tip we received before building was to maximise the outdoor space. We did and that's where we spend all of our time, rain or shine.


Second best tip was to go with a salt pool vs chlorine. It is fantastic!



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We can get it here in town for 8000 per bag. I just find that pricey. The DO IT in Liberia was a bit better. I WAS hoping for a reasonable source in San Jose that I could visit when we do a Price Smart run.


But at the end of the day we don't need to replenish the salt frequently, so I should probably just buy local and enjoy.


A puzzler to me is that we can sit outside at night, in the jungle, and have very few bugs.(albeit with outdoor ceiling fans) We cannot do that in Canada in the summer without getting eaten.

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