If you are thinking about installing a septic system on your property, there is a lot to learn so you can choose the best system for your needs. The first thing to know is that at times, local building and zoning codes may dictate what type of septic system you can select. So be sure to check before you order a new system! This post will give you an overview of septic systems so you can shop knowledgeably.
Types of Septic Systems
There are four basic types of systems – two of which are considered more common or “conventional.” One type uses gravel and the other uses a chamber system for filtration. If you are replacing an older existing conventional system, chances are good it uses gravel and stone to filter the wastewater. Newer systems have all but replaced the gravel/stone system with a system of chambers that do the filtering work.
If your property happens to be located in an area where the local soil conditions make it impossible to install either a gravel/stone or chamber-based system, you have the option of choosing a low pressure pipe system instead. This type of system uses a pump to actively direct wastewater into the filtration area away from your property.
If you live in a particularly low-moisture, high evaporation area (such as near a desert), there is a specialized type of septic system called an ET, or EvapoTranspiration system. This neat system uses sand and local flora to filter and clean wastewater.
If your property has no option of wastewater treatment service through local city or municipal systems, then a septic tank is your best option for ensuring clean, safe and potable water on your property. Here, you are basically installing your own in-house wastewater treatment center just for you!
Here are some things you need to think through before selecting a system:
– Are you at the property year-round or just during certain times of year?
– When you are at the property, how many people are there using the facilities?
– What would you estimate your average water usage is per day?
– Is the surrounding soil on your property fine or coarse?
– What type of soil do you have – sandy or dark, loose or packed?
Selecting Your Tank Size
The size of septic tank you need will directly relate to the your water usage. These general guidelines will help you match your daily water usage to the right tank size for your needs.
– 0-500 gallons of water per day: 900 gallon tank.
– 501-700 gallons of water per day: 1,200 gallon tank.
NOTE: In some local areas, a minimum tank size of 1,000 gallons is imposed regardless of your personal water usage. So be sure to check local zoning codes before you buy!
Selecting Your System
The system you select to accompany your new septic tank will directly relate to the type and consistency of the soil and conditions on your property. First, you will need to identify exactly where the “leach field,” or treatment area, of your new system will be located. Then take a look at the conditions there – is the area full of gravel, rocks and loose sand? Or is the soil rich and densely packed? This will tell you what type of system you need.
Match your soil to your system type:
– Loose gravel, rocks, sand and soil: A pressure-type system is often recommended.
– Densely packed soil: A gravity system is often recommended.
NOTE: Some schools of thought now cite pressure-type systems as the ideal choice for nearly any property conditions.
Selecting Your Pump
At this point, you are nearly done assembling your new system! The type of pump is the last major choice you need to think through. Here, you have only two choices: a turbine pump or a centrifugal pump. You will notice right away that turbine pumps tend to be pricier than their centrifugal counterparts. However, turbine pumps are also more durable, longer-lasting and more efficient, which can save you money on maintenance and replacement over the years.
Once you know what type of system will best suit your water use needs and property conditions, all that is left is to schedule the installation of your new system with the professional of your choice!