Septic systems are not a new technology, but they are a tried-and-true method for the efficient and environmentally-friendly removal of household wastewater. A typical septic system consists of a holding tank, drainfield, and associated plumbing, and this design hasn't changed significantly over many decades and generations of septic tank installations.
While the core design of septic systems hasn't changed much, more modern excavation, installation, and remediation methods can often ease septic system design in challenging areas. This guide will discuss a few steps required to design and install a modern septic system and the options available if your site is unsuitable for a traditional system.
What's Required to Install a Septic System?
If you're installing a traditional septic system, you'll probably hear a lot about percolation (or "perc") testing. Perc testing allows your septic system installer to determine if your home's site can safely drain effluent. A perc test ensures that your site's soil won't drain so slowly that there's a risk of flooding but also doesn't drain quickly enough to allow unfiltered effluent into the groundwater table.
Failing a perc test can be disappointing, but it doesn't have to be the end of your property aspirations. First, determine why your property can't meet local perc requirements. While perc test failures ultimately all come down to drainage, the underlying causes can vary. For example, your soil may fail due to a high water table or a nearby environmentally-sensitive area.
Experienced septic installers can often examine the results of your perc test and provide options for installing a new septic system. While these alternative methods may be costlier than a traditional gravity-fed system, they're often far cheaper than abandoning a property or drastically changing your development plans.
What Modern Options Are Available?
Sometimes, you simply need to provide more time for the effluent to disperse and drain through your leaching field. In these cases, the traditional option is to install a mound. Mounds use specialized fill materials to provide extra height for the drain field, providing more time for the effluent to filter. Since the mound sits higher than the natural soil, these systems require a pump from the tank to the field.
Drip distribution systems are an even more modern option. These systems work by slowing the rate of effluent release instead of adding extra filter material. Drip distribution systems are more complex than typical gravity-fed systems, but they can overcome many adverse soil conditions. As with mound-based systems, a drip system will require electrical power and more complex equipment.
Finally, aerobic treatment units can potentially offer a solution when other options are unsuitable. Aerobic septic systems are basically sewage treatment plants, allowing you to treat your wastewater, minimizing the need for filtration and drainage in the drainfield. While expensive, these advanced systems can often work on even very challenging properties.
For more information, reach out to a septic system installation service near you.