Every home in the country needs a septic system. In the city you are connected to a sewer line and the city manages that waste. In the country, you’ll have to do it yourself. If you recently bought a home with a septic system and have not had one, or plan on building, this “Septic Systems For Beginners” article is for you.
Here’s the scene, if you don’t properly build and maintain a septic system, you could end up contaminating your ground water and your well. If this happens, the fact that you were able to buy cheap land that you could actually afford won’t seem so appealing. You could end up costing yourself quite a bit in the long run.
Did you know that a septic system should be pumped out every once in a while? To extend the time between pumping (some do it often, some rarely do it at all) you can purchase and use any number of septic tank additives. Keep your septic in good shape to ensure long term workability, protect your groundwater, and ensure you can easily sell your home when you are ready to do so. Other tips on maintenance? Don’t park cars on your drainage field. Find out where it is if you don’t know. Don’t plant shrubs or trees near it or the septic lines. Check your drainage field once in a while to ensure you see no raw sewage. Run a garbage disposal as little as possible. Spread out your laundry. It’s hard on a septic to run many loads one after another. Don’t put chemicals or cleaners, or paint products down your sink.
WHAT DOES A SEPTIC SYSTEM CONSIST OF?
A septic system consists of a pipe from your home, a tank, (could be fiberglass, concrete, or polyethylene) a drain-field, and of course the microbes in the soil. (They remove the contaminants from waste water before they reach the ground water) The waste goes into the tank, and it holds the waste water long enough for the solids to settle out and the oil and grease to float to the surface. Compartments and “T” shaped outlets in the tank allow the sludge and scum from leaving the tank, while things continue to break down. It is the scum that builds up in the tank, and “T” shaped outlets that make it necessary to call a septic company to come pump out the tank once in a while.
If you own steep or rocky property, or land close to a river or stream, a standard septic system might not be adequate enough. In these cases, it could be determined by your perk text and by your county planning department that you might need the next step up from a standard or conventional system. In some cases, there are so many septic systems nearby that the county could require an alternative system as well. These systems use new technology, and might need special maintenance. Some of these systems use sand, peat, or plastic media instead of soil, to promote waste water treatment.
THREE TYPES OF SEPTIC SYSTEMS
If you are putting in a septic system, the county will require what is called a “perk test”. This helps determine what type of system you need. It requires having a couple test holes dug on your land. There are basically three types of septic systems. Your land may be fine with a conventional or standard system. If not, it might need an alternative system. There are many variations of the alternative system. Probably the most commonly used is the sand trap filter system. There are also proprietary systems that use sand, drip systems, and different filter systems that use textile materials.
We suggest you find a few good septic installers and get quotes. Find the person that feels right and have them determine what you need, then get it approved by the county, and properly installed. It’ll run you money for permits. In Klamath County currently a standard septic permit runs about $850 and it could go as high as $1000 or more, for a permit for an alternative or proprietary system. Standard systems average $7,500-$10,000, and an alternative system could run $10,000-$15,000. A Proprietary system could be more. So, since this is a major expense, you want to ensure that you build what is needed for the conditions of the land, the size of home, and the number of people that intend to live on the land. Then, make sure you maintain it properly. I trust our “Septic Systems for Beginners” post helps you understand septic systems better!
Good luck, and enjoy your new or future home. 😉