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Letters To The Editor

Dear Editor,

A recent question asked about underground storage, and you responded: “Another thing to consider when burying something in the clay soil you have is that when that dirt gets wet and swells, it’ll push stuff out of the ground. For instance, here in my neck of the woods, contractors immediately dump about 500 gallons of water into newly installed septic tanks because if they’re left empty, they’ll pop like a cork out of the dirt. You really need to find a general contractor in your area to help you figure out, based on your needs, what kind of options you have.”
I am an excavator and have installed quite a few septics and other things in clay soil. It is absolutely true that tanks and other objects “float” out of the ground from the hydraulic pressure caused by saturated soil. Drainage…a very important part of planning for anything you build. Septic tanks (usually due to regulations) are not generally going to have any drainage to remove excess moisture from the soil around them. So we prefill them with water to prevent them from “floating”. Even a humidity requiring cellar needs drainage to keep it from becoming a swimming hole. If there is a lot of runoff from above your structure you might have to install a “curtain” or “French” (depending on your local dialect) drain above it to ease the problem.
If you want something underground to stay dry, then drainage becomes your first line of defense. Soil grade around the structure is important as well. Others may disagree, but I have found that DWV (drain-waste-vent) pipe does a better job than the coil pipe, and try to keep it below the top of the footer (remember the holes go down). Backfill around the pipe with clean gravel to a minimum depth of 2 feet, and use a barrier that will keep the soil from clogging the rock but permits the passage of water. Use a quality product to coat the walls and use a moisture barrier below concrete floors.

Dear Mike,
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your expertise with our subscribers and for your tips on drainage around underground facilities. I’m sure all our readers appreciate you taking the time to write! God bless!
The Editor


Dear Editor,

The January 17, 2011 edition of “Off the Grid News” contained an article about preparing wool for spinning and weaving. As someone who has some familiarity with spinning and weaving, and also with professional dry cleaning experience, there are three critical factors to be avoided to avert the shrinking of wool—heat, moisture and mechanical action. All three must be present for wool shrinking to take place. If any of the three is absent, wool will not shrink. Vigorous washing of wool in cold water and it won’t shrink; dry cleaning (no water) and tumble drying with heat and no shrinkage.
However, I noticed your article included “Remove the bag of wool, pour out the soapy water and fill the bucket, pail or machine with hot water. Put bag back into the water and swish gently with your hands to rinse the soap out. Repeat the rinse cycle several times until the soap is gone.” I suggest caution be exercised with the above.

Dear Steve,
Thank you for the additional information on wool. It would seem that this advice included all three factors to adequately shrink the wool! We’ll need to revisit that article and take out the word “hot”. Thanks for bringing this mistake to our attention.
The Editor

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