If your home is not connected to a centralized municipal sewer system, you will need an alternative sewage treatment system in place. The most common system is the septic tank and drainfield system. Septic tank systems are quite simple in design and function. However, there are regulations and health considerations which must be taken into consideration when installing your septic system.
Before deciding on the right spot to install your septic system, there are conditions required by septic components for the whole system to function optimally. Primarily, site conditions will determine potential locations for a septic tank.
Deciding Where to Place Your Septic Tank
- Consider Your Terrain
Ideally, a septic tank should be placed on level ground. If possible, the tank should be placed on high ground in order to avoid flooding and seeping. It will be important that you look around and avoid steep slopes or areas of dense tree roots that can damage your entire system.
- Distance From the House
For a specific answer as to how far your septic tank must be installed from your house, consult local codes and regulations since requirements will vary from one area to another. However, the tank is typically installed 10 feet from the house.
Keep in mind that if you will be using a private well for drinking water, many state departments of health require a minimum of 50 feet between a new septic tank and a well.
Your yard’s landscaping is also a vital consideration when you want to install a septic tank. You should not install the tank near the house, trees, or any other significant obstructions. For example, the tree roots can grow deep into the septic tank and damage the pipes or the entire system.
The septic tank should be at least 5 feet from such structures, and its lid should always be secure. You can, however, plant a few shallow-rooted plants to cover your drain field.
Where Best to Put Your Drainfield
Wastewater from the household travels through the main sewer line into the septic tank where bacteria digest organic matter and separate solid waste from the liquid. After that, the wastewater leaves the septic tank and is discharged to a drainfield (also known as leach field) where further filtration of pollutants in the wastewater happens. The filtered wastewater is then distributed through some perforated pipes for treatment. For this reason, the drain field is an integral part of your on-site sewage system. If you are about to install a septic tank system in your property, consider these factors when choosing the perfect location for the drain field.
- Area With Low Elevation
Wastewater leaves the septic tank and travels to the drainfield with the help of gravity. An area with a lower elevation than your septic tank is ideal so that gravity can effectively push the wastewater to the drainfield. If this is not possible or if you choose to place the drainfield in a higher area, you will likely need to invest in a lift station or pump to accomplish the flow of wastewater.
- Unused Area
Keep in mind that the area you install the drainfield in will be unavailable for anything else. Plants growing on this absorption area can block the perforated pipes and cause flooding of wastewater in the drainfield. Select an area that can be utilized only for the specific purpose of holding wastewater that comes from the septic tank. Commonly, a good spot is on the far end of the property where it is out of the way and will not impede any future property improvement projects.
- Drainfield Size
The number of people in your household will determine the size of the drainfield. This aspect of the installation is ideally decided with the advice from septic professionals. A drainfield that is too small will overload the system, leading to flooding and other plumbing problems.
How to Hide Your Septic Tank
A septic system, with its tank lid and other protruding elements, is not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing addition to your property. There are several things you can try out to “hide” your septic tank lids in plain sight.
Below are a few ideas of how you can safely disguise your septic.
- Decorative Lid Cover
Small tiles over your concrete septic tank lid can create a mosaic design that is easy to do and can be very stylish.
- Paint the Septic Tank Lid
Painting the lid as the same color as its surroundings will easily help it blend in without impeding its access and functionality.
- Plant Grass Around the Septic Tank Lid
Natural greenery will always add an aesthetic quality to any surroundings, yet if you do decide to plant grass around your tank, you should remember never to plant grass directly over the lid of your septic tank.
- Light Lawn Ornaments
A plastic rock, a fiber plastic statue, a decorative birdbath, or a lightweight planter box over the septic tank lid are some ideas. Just be careful not to place anything too big or heavy.
Factors Determining Septic Tank Depth
The principal factors that determine the actual depth at which a septic tank is likely to be buried (and thus how deep you may have to dig to find the septic tank) at a particular site include:
- Sewer Line Depth
The depth at which the lowest sewer line leaves the building which the septic tank serves. Since gravity is used to move sewage from the building to the septic tank, the tank will be lower than the exiting waste line of the building it serves.
- Site Conditions
If a site has bedrock or large boulders close to the surface, the tank may be located elsewhere; the further the tank is located from the building, if the system uses gravity to move sewage, the deeper the tank will be.
- Keep Septic Tanks High
We do not typically put the septic tank any deeper than necessary, since we are usually moving effluent from the septic tank to the drainfield also by gravity.
- Growing Grass
If the septic tank is just 2 or 3 inches below ground surface you may as well have left the top of the tank exposed, since you will not get grass to grow in such thin soil.
- Manufacturer’s Recommendations
Some advanced septic treatment system designs require very specific inspection & maintenance intervals by a trained system operator.
Call West Coast Sanitation Today!
When the appointment is set for the septic inspector to come out, make time to be there and watch how things proceed. This commitment to the sale is important. Everyone involved wants a fast sale and this is one you do not want to shortcut to come at your expense.
At West Coast Sanitation, we understand the value and importance of a septic system inspection prior to buying or selling a home. Our professional inspectors strive to exceed your expectations and help you obtain the essential information you need to make an informed decision.
Call us at (951) 780-5922 right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions.