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Table of Contents
This guide is designed to assist contractors throughout New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts with selecting the best precast concrete manufacturer for their needs. It outlines the advantages of precast concrete; answers frequently asked questions about precast concrete products and suppliers; describes eight common products precast suppliers stock; and explores the benefits of working with a quality precast concrete supplier, including a checklist of questions to ask before hiring a precast concrete manufacturer.
Our five decades of experience with supporting contractors and septic system designers throughout New England has contributed thousands of successful commercial and residential construction and wastewater management projects.
Key components that affect the structural integrity of precast concrete products include:
A precast concrete manufacturer should provide documentation of the tank’s testing and a diagram of the tank’s design, to verify that it can withstand HS-20 loading, and has been built with the appropriate rebar size, grade, lengths, bends, and placement to ensure reliable performance.
As detailed fully in our article about choosing the right septic system for a New England property, the section titled 13 Advantages of Precast Concrete underscores these reasons why precast concrete makes the most sense for New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts:
Quality precast concrete companies follow the Best Practices of the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) to develop long-lasting, effective solutions for modern wastewater treatment system construction.
Precast concrete is manufactured in a controlled environment, ensuring reliable consistency and quality.
In-stock availability of a wide variety of precast concrete products is critical to the success of many projects. It is beneficial for a contractor to partner with a precaster that regularly stocks in-demand products ranging from single compartment to two- and three-compartment tanks; to customizable manholes and concrete catch basins; to innovative technologies such as advanced treatment units.
Dedicated precast concrete professionals make it their business to identify value-engineered solutions and alternatives that enhance a project and save time and cost. For example, when a designer specifies a product that isn’t locally used or available, or is cost prohibitive to custom-manufacture, an experienced concrete precast provider can suggest ways to modify a stock item, or to use an alternative structure.
Examples of innovations and alternatives proven to save time and cost while increasing performance include:
Skilled precast concrete professionals provide septic system designers with flexibility. For example, flexible septic tank design enables designers to plan for the effluent to exit either from the side or end of the tank, via three inlets and three outlets.
Rapid delivery of in-stock products eliminates wait times, and streamlines projects when contractors are ready for installation.
Experienced precast concrete companies understand the importance of maintaining strong relationships with builders, contractors, and septic system designers.
Examples of how precast concrete professionals can comprehensively support contractors include:
Reputable precast concrete manufacturers will provide original purchasers with an exclusive limited warranty on the structural integrity of each underground concrete structure when installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This warranty is typically against defective materials and workmanship for a period of one year from the purchase date. If a defect appears within the warranty period, and the purchaser informs the precast concrete company within a specified time period (typically 15 days), a reputable manufacturer will typically repair or replace the unit, with a value not to exceed the original purchase price, and excluding the liability of the removal and/or installation of the unit. Be sure to discuss other warranty terms and conditions before choosing to partner with a precast concrete company.
Each state has specific regulations and requirements regarding septic system design, products and installation. For example, it’s critical that a precast concrete supplier can custom-design precast concrete tank sizes to accommodate the specific requirements of the state of New Hampshire.
The best precast concrete companies understand the importance of having key products in-stock and ready to modify or deliver whenever contractors need them. Here are the eight most common products that contractors commonly request from their precast concrete supplier – including alternate names for each product, as well as typical applications and uses.
A precast concrete septic tank is a single or multi-compartment holding chamber that collects wastewater from drains and toilets. The treatment chamber is where the natural biochemical treatment of solid and liquid influent begins, and effluent is then discharged to a drain in an area covered by soil, below the surface.
Many projects call for precast concrete septic tanks to be installed below a vehicular traffic area, thus requiring that the tanks be manufactured to the specifications of H-20 or HS-20 traffic-rated loading.
Septic tanks designed to handle traffic-rated loads have thicker side walls and bottom and top slabs, and are ideally manufactured with quality high-strength 5,000 psi concrete using Type III cement. Specialized equipment is also required to handle the additional weight of traffic-rated tanks.
Precast concrete frost posts (also called deck footings, deck piers, frost piers and sonotubes) are often used to support decks and porches. For these applications, frost posts are installed in the ground below the frost line, exposing only the tops of each post. Quality frost posts are precast with high-strength 5,000 psi concrete mix using type III cement.
The advantages of installing precast concrete frost posts instead of posts created onsite with ready-mix concrete include:
The role of a concrete chamber (also called a flow diffusor, leaching chamber, or shallow dry well) is to effectively leach septic tank effluent into the ground. Long-lasting, reusable concrete chambers have reliably served as leach fields for more than 50 years.
Not all precast concrete manufacturers produce concrete chambers, so it’s an important question to ask when choosing a precast concrete supplier. Contractors prefer to partner with a precasters that regularly stock and supply concrete chambers – often in large quantities, on short notice. For example, large commercial projects such as shopping mall parking lots can demand upwards of 100 traffic-rated concrete chambers, on a tight schedule.
The advantages of installing precast concrete chambers instead of alternate designs such as pipe and stone include:
Bulkheads (also called bulkhead steps, precast basement entry steps, and precast or pre-made basement entry stairs) are precast concrete staircases that enable access to a basement. Installation of bulkheads requires precision and skill to ensure a watertight fit. Therefore, not all concrete manufacturers are willing or able to produce bulkhead steps, so it’s important to ask a precast concrete supplier if they provide bulkheads in several standard industry sizes before you choose to partner with them for your projects.
A catch basin (also called a drop inlet, drainage inlet, storm drain, or storm water catch basin) is a square box precast concrete structure placed below-ground, with a horizontal square opening. Catch basins are typically stocked as set-size items, ready for quick-modification to the required size specifications for each hole.
A slotted or perforated metal grate is often set into the top of a catch basin, to bring it to ground level and enable water to enter the structure. In a heavy rainstorm, water will drain from the surface into the grate openings of the catch basin, and then into a storm water pipe that is connected to the catch basin. Many storm drains can be linked with pipe, creating a system of gravity-fed drainage points.
Precast concrete manholes (also called pump stations, sanitary manholes, sanitary sewers, and storm water manholes) are a key component of a wastewater treatment system. They are produced in a controlled environment, which ensures consistent quality and consistency. When properly designed and installed, precast concrete manholes provide durable, watertight performance. Manholes are typically stocked as set-size items, ready for quick-modification to the required size specifications for each hole.
The role of a precast concrete grease interceptor (also called a grease trap, gravity interceptor, passive interceptor, and precast interceptor) is to remove grease from the waste stream before water is discharged into a septic system. A grease interceptor/trap is a septic tank customized to settle the water and grease, enabling the water to cool down before it is released into a leach field.
The role of a trench drain (also called a channel drain, concrete drainage trough, or concrete drainage channel) is to collect excess water from parking lot or driveway, and direct it to a small-scale catch basin. Non-contaminated runoff is directed to a dry well/leaching chamber for water disbursement. Contaminated runoff is directed to an oil/water separator before water is directed to a dry well or city drain/catch basin.
Before you partner with precast concrete company to support your projects, here are 7 key questions that will help you assess their commitment to quality, integrity, and service:
Membership in the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) indicates that a firm is committed to the high standards of continuing education and best practices in their manufacturing processes.
The most reliable precast suppliers offer in-stock availability of commonly-specified products, including H-20 Traffic Rated Septic Tanks; Frost Posts; Concrete Chambers; Bulkheads; Catch Basins; Manholes; Grease Interceptors and Trench Drains.
The best precast concrete firms can manufacture custom products within two to four weeks.
The best providers of precast concrete products proudly offer a warranty on their products, as a tangible testament to the quality of their offerings.
The best precast concrete providers offer same day or next-day delivery, within a one-hour time frame.
Precast concrete professionals communicate well and maintain strong relationships with contractors. Ask these questions to learn about their dedication to contractor-support:
A customer-oriented professional precaster will provide contractors and septic system designers with product drawings, in AutoCAD and PDF file formats, on USB as well as via a free online account with around the clock access.
Jonathan Cardinal is Operations Manager and Co-owner of A.J. Foss (www.ajfoss.com), a family owned and operated precast concrete products manufacturer located in Farmington, NH. For more than 50 years, A.J. Foss has served contractors, specifiers and designers throughout New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts with innovative, value engineered and cost-effective solutions for their precast concrete needs, as well as education and guidance regarding products, processes, and installation.
When the gentleman showed up Friday morning, I Knew that he had been on the road for two or so hours and arrived promptly at 8 AM He Was friendly and had the bulkhead installed in ...Full Testimonial >
Your driver certainly knows how to give excellent customer service and I really appreciated not just what he did, but most of all his helpful and encouraging attitude. This kind of...Full Testimonial >
I just wanted to thank you for all of your help involving my precast step replacement.Full Testimonial >
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