Thinking about Installing a Septic Tank? 3 Must-Know Facts
While a septic system is a solid choice when you live in or are building a home in an area without municipal sewer access, factors exist that can make your property a poor fit for a septic system. Before you start digging a hole for the septic tank, be sure to review these three must-know facts about owning and installing a septic system.
Septic Tank Size
Although buying a smaller septic tank may seem like an excellent way to save money, the decision may not ultimately be yours. In many cases, cities and townships have strict regulations about the minimum size septic tanks can be. Several factors go into the septic tank size calculation, including:
- Number of bedrooms in the home
- Number of people living in the home
- Whether the home has a garbage disposal.
At first glance, it may appear as though having a garbage disposal in the kitchen is irrelevant, but every bit of food waste you put down the drain adds to the sludge layer at the bottom of the septic tank. Experts estimate that having a garbage disposal can increase the sludge layer by as much as 50%. For this reason, having a garbage disposal can automatically require you to have a larger tank.
Drain Field Specifications
Contrary to popular belief, the septic system’s drain field can’t just go anywhere that’s convenient for your landscaping design plan. In fact, it’s best to plan on planting nothing over your drain field except for grass to hold the soil in place. You’ll also need to ensure that any plants and trees on the property near the drain field don’t have large or elaborate root structures that could interfere with the drainage trenches. Depending on the proximity of existing trees with well-developed root structures, it may be necessary to cut them down or relocate them to another part of the property.
As far as soil goes, not any kind will do. Clay soil, for instance, is too hard and isn’t porous enough to adequately filter the wastewater that will drain into it. If your entire property is nothing but clay, it will be necessary to bring in additional soil.
Perhaps the most important thing for any homeowner considering a septic system to know is that it isn’t as forgiving as a sewage system. With a normal sewage system, accidentally pouring grease down your drain every time you clean pots and pans may not muck up the pipes too drastically, but adding that much grease to your septic tank can be catastrophic, requiring frequent tank pumping and drain field repairs.
You’ll also have to rethink the way you use the water in your home. With a septic system, doing all your laundry on the same day can introduce too much water into the septic tank at once. This high influx of water can stir up the sludge layer, forcing those particles into the effluent that travels to the drain field. Over time, this will cause your drain field to become inefficient.