Eight Best Practices for Installing Septic Systems and Tanks 

If you are planning on installing a septic system, you need to know how to install it properly. So, make sure you follow these eight best practices.

1. Type of Septic System You Are Installing

Before you begin the installation process, you should familiarize yourself with the specific type of septic system that you are going to use. You can then install it, operate it, and maintain it correctly. 

The three main types are septic tanks, conventional septic systems, and chamber systems. But there are also alternative septic systems you could use. 

Septic Tanks

When installing a septic tank, it needs to be buried. A watertight tank is constructed to receive and partially treat your domestic wastewater. 

The heavy solids will settle at the tank’s bottom while lighter solids and greases will float on the top. Those solids will stay in the septic tank as the wastewater is discharged into your drain field. In the drain field, the wastewater will be further treated and dispersed. 

Conventional Systems

A conventional wastewater treatment system consists of a septic tank and a drain field. The drain field will consist of gravel or stone. 

The effluent from the septic tank is piped to a shallow stone or gravel trench. A geo-fabric material or a similar material is then added on top of the trench so that contaminants like dirt and sand cannot enter. 

The effluent filters through the stone or gravel to reach the soil at the bottom of the trench. It is then further treated by microbes.

Chamber Systems

Chamber systems have been replacing many gravel and stone systems for the past three decades. The systems come in various forms, including fabric-wrapped pipes and open-bottom chambers. 

Chamber systems are gravel-free and they can be manufactured with recycled materials. One of the best things about chamber systems besides their eco-friendliness is they are easy to construct and install compared to conventional septic systems. 

They are particularly well-suited to areas that have high groundwater tables, areas where gravel is scarce, and areas where technologies like plastic chambers are available. Chamber systems consist of a number of interconnected chambers. The areas at the top of the chambers are filled with soil. 

The pipes carry your wastewater to the septic tank and its chambers. The wastewater then comes into contact with the soil inside the chambers and microbes that are on or in close proximity to the soil then treat the effluent. 

Alternative Septic Systems

Alternative septic systems collect sewage in the same manner as conventional septic systems. The key difference is alternative systems break down more sewage inside the septic tank and use oxygen instead of natural bacteria. 

Types of alternative septic systems include:

  • Drip Distribution Systems.
  • Mound Systems.
  • Aerobic Treatment Units.
  • Evapotranspiration Systems.
  • Recirculating Sand Filter Systems.
  • Constructed Wetland Systems.

2. Test the Soil

You should always check the installation instructions given by the manufacturer before installing your specific type of septic system to ensure you install it correctly. But there are some best practices that apply to all types of systems, such as testing the soil. 

Seeing as septic tanks require permeable soil around them in order to absorb and naturally treat the wastewater without contaminating the runoff water, you need to get a professional company to perform a percolation test, which tests the soil to ensure it meets the set requirements by your local health department. 

3. Excavate

Eight Best Practices for Installing Septic Systems and Tanks

The site in which your septic system is being installed needs to be adequately excavated. You also need to ensure that the base of the area is leveled out before setting the septic tank. 

Furthermore, you need to make certain that the length and width of the excavated area have enough space to enable proper compaction and backfilling. It is essential that the site is safe, too. 

4. Make Sure the Septic System Is Not Below Areas Where Cars Will Drive or Park

One thing you do not want to overlook when choosing a site for your septic system is ensuring the area is not a location where cars and other vehicles will drive or park. 

If vehicles do drive or park in the area, it can compact the soil, break pipes and other elements of the system, and damage your drain field. It would then take a lot of time and money to repair your system. 

Installing septic systems on sites where vehicles drive and park is a common error that many people make, so ensure you do not make this fatal error yourself. Check out this insightful article to learn more about avoiding common septic system mistakes.

5. Set the Septic Tank

The next task in the installation process is setting your septic tank. It needs to be lowered carefully into the excavated area. Also, make sure the tank is level. If it is not level in either direction, make sure you adjust it before you finalize the tank’s setting. 

6. Complete Backfill and Compaction

Once you have set the septic tank, it is time to backfill the tank. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions to ensure you do that correctly. Usually, you need to ensure you backfill with native soil using lifts of twelve inches on each side of the septic tank. 

Once the backfilling has been completed, you need to compact the soil. You can do that with the heel of the bucket and by walking-in the soil that is surrounding the tank. 

The last stage of the backfilling and compaction phase is installing inlet and outlet tees and risers. Again, follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions to ensure you do that correctly. 

7. Cover the Septic Tank

The final part of the installation process is covering the septic tank. After backfilling and compacting, place topsoil on top and provide drainage away from the tank. You should then seed the site of your septic system to divert surface water and avoid erosion problems. 

8. Inspect Your Septic System 

Once the installation process is complete, you should make sure you inspect it at least once every three years. You need to ensure that no leaks or build-ups have occurred. Also, you will need to pump out your septic system every three to five years. 

For alternative septic systems, such as ones with electrical pumps, float switches, or mechanical components, you should perform inspections on a more regular basis, such as once a year.