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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in buildings
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWAGE LEVELS in SEPTIC TANKS
SEWAGE NITROGEN CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Peat bed septic systems: This document discusses the design and use peat septic media filter systems. Peat media filter septic systems use a conventional septic tank followed by any of several methods to further filter and treat septic effluent before it is discharged to the soil, soil surface, or waterway. Peat-based septic media filter types are explained here. We include a list of product sources for various types of septic filters. Our page top photo shows a septic mound installed on a narrow lot bordering on Lake Superior in Minnesota, reported to use peat as a septic media filter. To protect this system from surface runoff flooding, the installers included intercept drainage to route runoff away from the mound itself and to improve drainage towards the lake. It is instructive to compare the mound shape to the peat system described below.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Peat filter septic systems take a conventional septic system design (such as those regulated in MA under Title 5) and adds an effluent filter stage for additional effluent treatment. Some literature refers to this extra treatment step as tertiary treatment of septic effluent, or as multiple module effluent treatment, or moving bed biological reactor treatment systems.
Dr. Joan Brooks [as part of a masters thesis] installed the first sphagnum peat-based onsite wastewater treatment system in Maine in 1978 where it supported a septic system supporting a home with nine occupants. Brooks subsequently designed and installed additional peat filter septic systems in Maine.Shaw [op cit] claims that the system treated septic tank effluent "to drinking water standards" and that the system was still in use after 25 years. [Note that this does not mean that maintenance and repair have not been required during that period.] Brooks is credited with development of the "modular peat system" that uses multiple effluent treatment tanks connected to the septic tank to receive its effluent.
In simpler terms, adding a peat media filter to a septic system is an extra step in treatment of septic effluent that removes a higher percentage of fine solids that otherwise would be discharged from a septic tank or an aerobic septic tank. The result is cleaner wastewater discharged into the environment, and probably a longer drainfield or soakaway bed life.
You can infer from this data that a higher level of effluent treatment is achieved with a peat filter septic design. That's surely why the septic treatment system shown at the top of this page used a peat filter: the system is located very close to the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. The Barnstable BOH continues to describe how and why peat is an effective filter.
Watch out: Jantrania/Gross point out that you should not try to build your own septic treatment system using peat from a local landscaper as such material has a short life. Don't run out and buy peat moss for your septic system filter by going to the landscape and gardening supplier.
Peat which is intended to be used as a septic media filter is specially selected and perhaps treated and prepared by the manufacturer, and has an 8-20 year life expectancy. Peat from the local nursery may not last more than a year or two and it is unlikely to achieve the level of effluent treatment that was assumed when the septic system was designed and approved
We list some supplies of peat-based septic systems and peat suppliers below..
Septic effluent which has been processed through the peat biofilter is discharged into a soil absorption system such as a stone bed below the peat pods, or to a dosing tank where it is pumped to a mound or other soil absorption system.
The following is adapted and expanded from Barnstable BOH  who, speaking in more technical terms describe peat filter material as having a "high cation exchange capacity" and other properties that make it work well as a septic effluent filter and treatment media.
According to the Shaw Peat Manual, use of peat for odor absorption and filtering have been known "since ancient times". A peat filter system for treating wastewater installed in Finland in 1957 and still functioning today, reports that peat filtering successfully removes phosphorous to 82%, nitrogen to 90%, BOD to 90%, and pathogenic bacteria to 99% in the treated effluent.
So Why Doesn't Every Septic System Use a Peat Filter
OPINION-DF: surely the peat system suppliers would love the answer to this one. We speculate that in any system, where an extra component or device is not needed people don't want to pay for its cost, added complexity, and added maintenance.
Requiring and paying for adequate septic system design, installation supervision, and a regular inspection and maintenance by a professional third party is a way around this problem, but folks may simply not want to face that added expense, even though proper design, supervision, and ongoing maintenance protects the environment, extends the life of the septic system, and ultimately saves money by making the need for septic system replacement less frequent.
Heck, as you will read below, people don't even have their septic tank pumped on schedule until they've begun to smell an incipient failure.
Also some sources ( once again) point out that some states such as Maine have issued warnings about peat filter media system clogging failures. A Maine study of 68 peat filter systems  confirmed serious system failures [failure to treat effluent or other failures] in four systems, seven other incipient failures [saturated drainfields] and five "stressed" systems that were at their design limit.
If we exclude six peat systems that were used only seasonally, this finds 16 out of 61 malfunctioning systems, or about one forth of the in-use peat filter systems were in failure mode. [Septic system age,original design, and maintenance data must also be considered, as we noted in our similar discussion of aerobic septic system failures.]
Another 29 of the peat filter septic systems were also not installed according to state BOH DEP rules, with these variations that are listed in order of severity of impact on the successful functioning of the peat filter system:
The Maine study also traced peat filter system failures to:
Remarkable for its contradiction, suggesting that at least sometimes robust original design can trump poor maintenance, the study reported that:
The 1998 peat septic system study also concluded that
Other studies conducted of the failure of aerobic septic systems [AEROBIC SEPTIC SYSTEMS] may offer a model for septic system design versus maintenance requirements: a significant, perhaps even dominant reason for septic system failure in advanced septic system designs such as aerobic and filter-based septic systems and even in older designs such as sand bed septic systems is that normal homeowners don't think much about the septic system nor its maintenance until something fails.
Most of the peat filter septic ongoing maintenance advice detailed below has as its object preventing damage to the peat filter system either from overloading (garbage disposers), chemicals and additives (see x), or traffic that may compact or damage the filter system.
Question: Where can I buy peat for my septic tank?
I want to purchase peat for my septic tank. Have you got any suggestions? I'm in the Ohio/Pennsylvania area. - M.G.
Reply: Peat is used for a septic media filter. Here are some suggestions for finding a source of peat for septic system use
You may already know this,but we do not sell anything. InspectAPedia.com provides building and environmental diagnostic and repair information. In order to absolutely assure our readers that we write and report without bias we do not sell any products nor do we have any business or financial relationships that could create such conflicts of interest.
Also, to be accurate, peat does not go into the septic tank. Peat used with septic systems is installed in a separately constructed mound or container that acts as an additional or "tertiary" treatment step for sewage effluent between the point of leaving the septic tank and the point of entering the disposal field or drainfield. You may also have seen that you don't want to buy ordinary peat moss from a landscape supplier.
Since you already have a peat bed installed, and as we won't know the names of local suppliers, here is how we look for supplies: We figure that one would not usually build a system that required importing materials from a great distance (cost), I'd start by calling the septic system designers/installers in your immediate area to ask what suppliers they've used.
In some states such as ME we read that the local health department had information about peat bed designs and suppliers so don't forget to ask your local BOH or building department for a suggestion.
We list suppliers of peat media filter systems and peat supplies just below.
CONTACT us to add additional peat filter system or peat filter suppliers here - no fees are involved. InspectAPedia has no business nor financial relationship with systems or materials discussed at our website.
List of U.S. States and Canadian Provinces where Peat Biofilter and Filtration Systems Have Been Approved
CONTACT us to add additional states where peat filter septic designs are code-approved.
The following information is provided as a model and for background about peat septic system design and installation. Source: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/eng/plumb/Adobe/peat1998.pdf 03/16/2011, citing the Maine Division of Environmental Health 
Notice: because the study referenced above recommended changes to procedure and possibly state code, the text below may have been subsequently updated by the state. Readers should check with their own local municipal building and health departments for current regulations regarding septic system installation and maintenance and peat filter septics. The current model building code approved by the state of Maine is provided at http://www.maine.gov/legis/lawlib/buildcode.htm
CHAPTER 23 - PEAT DISPOSAL SYSTEMS, SECTION 2300.0 GENERAL BACKGROUND ON TYPES OF PEAT
SECTION 2301.0 CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES
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