? about septic systems

deep_south_gardener(z9b)August 31, 2009

Hey Ya'll,

My husband and I are in the process of purchasing

4.5 acres and need to install a septic tank/system.

Any suggestions or insight would be greatly appreciated.


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1. Choose your location wisely. I have a neighbor who can't build on to/expand his house because he put the septic system under his back lawn.

2.Don't put it in an area that will require you to drive on. I occassionally drive on mine, but rarely. It is even recommended that large animals (horses, cows, etc) not be allowed to graze over it. Mine is in a pasture with goats and geese.

3. Don't put it in a place you will want shade trees...especially trees with invasive root systems like silver, red, Norway etc maples, cottonwoods, poplars, aspen etc etc etc.

4. Have a riser come up off of the lid to ground level and put a man hole cover on it. I have to dig down 12" or so everytime (which isn't that often), it needs to be pumped. Half of the problem is digging it up. The other half is just finding the thing.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 11:47AM
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pris(8B TX)

The most common mistake most people make when installing a septic tank is selecting the wrong size. Don't underestimate your future needs. The size you need today may not be what you need in the future. Your installer will tell you what the minimum required by law for your present needs are but don't forget that those needs may increase later. It's easier to prepare for the future now AND less expensive than it will be to dig up a small tank and replace it with a larger one.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 2:31PM
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Thanks for the advice. The property is 249 ft across
the front with about 30-40ft cleared across the front,
there is a driveway all the way down the left side of
the property about 660 ft. There's about 1.5 to 2 acres
planted in pine with the remainder cleared. We
won't be building for a few years, but will be
parking our camper on it until we are ready to build.
Any suggestions on placement? We are excited but
stressed at the same time. We don't want to make
costly mistakes.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 9:33PM
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The critical distance is the one your health department requires between your well and septic drainfield and the well and the septic tank. Here the minimum well to drainfield is 100'. The distance to the septic use to be 50' but now may be up to 100' too. Tom

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 10:22PM
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Ya, don't know what the minimum is here as the well and septic were already here when we bought the place, but they are about 125' apart or so.

You have an idea where the footprint of the house will be? If you know that then you have narrowed it down. N. S. E. or W. of the house. In the front lawn? That's okay as long as you don't want shade trees in the front yard. Back of the house? Do you have enough money to build all the home you'll ever want right now? If so and there's no possibility for building on in the future and you don't want trees there, then you can put it in the back lawn.

Ours seems to be in the best spot. It is on the southside of the house. The tank is about 15' from the foundation of the home and then feeds out into a small 35' strip of pasture off the side of the house. That strip is where the leach field is. Doesn't get in our way really. The only problem I've found is that I would love to plant about 12 trees in there to block that southern sun, but other than that, it seems to be a good spot. No one disturbs it really.

One other thing to keep in mind . . . Do you have a canal anywhere on the property? Do you have hay or alfalfa fields adjacent to your property that the farmers flood irrigate? If so, keep your septic system away from these features. It WILL happen that someone screws up and sends too much water down the ditch and you get flooded out. Your system will be bogged down at best and at worst you'll get back up into the house through the drains. This also goes for placing it in a low spot with poor drainage, but your health dept will require a perc test that will cover that.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 11:29AM
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OK My head is spinning now! We have community water supply,
so there's not going to be a well. We won't be building
for a few years but will be putting our camper on the
property so we still want to put in a septic system.
We want it to be large enough to handle the house
when we do build. Guess we need to contact the county
health dept for specs. No canals, no farmers. No neighbors
on three sides. The property is pretty flat, although I think it may taper down toward the front a little.
Is that a problem? I had no idea it was this
complicated. I'm such a city girl. Thanks again. For all the help.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 8:11PM
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pris(8B TX)

You need to have a good idea as to where the future house will be sitting. Based on that you might want to do some preliminary landscape design to determine where you want to have shade trees and shrubs that would interfere with drainage. I don't know the criteria for determining the tank and drain field size in your area, but here one of the criteria is number of bedrooms. So, when you talk to your installer bring these points up and he will be able to lead you in the right direction. You want to allow for what you will need based on the house that will be there someday, not the temporary situation you will have until the house is built.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 10:04PM
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Many Local/State government agencies dictate minimum size and locations and will dedicate an alternate sight that can't be built on (in case the first one fails). Be active in this process and try to have an idea of how you want to use your land and where you may want additional buildings/structures.

So if your State doesnÂt do this-it would be wise to do so. Like many above have said make it bigger than immediate needs are.

When putting in field drains system we put 2Â pea stone below and 1Â on top of the drainage pipe. It gives a very large capacity for leaching off excess water-very important for long life of the system.

Be sure to feed your system probiotics-there are many products for this-all are about $5-$8 a month. This is a lot cheaper than repairs due to poor maintenance will be. Remember to have tank pumped ever 5-6 years (more often depending how many person live there) to prevent solid waste from flowing into the field drain preventing its ability to properly drain away excess liquids.

It is a great pleasure to design and build a new home according to your wants/needs. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 12:31PM
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Thanks ya'll for all the great advice. I'll ask our
real estate agent for some names or check with
the local county agency. I'll keep in mind our
future needs as well as our temporary dweling
which will become a "guest house" after we build.
A little privacy can go a long way to make a visit
pleasant. Thanks again. I'll keep ya'll posted
on our progress.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 11:26PM
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If you live in a geographical area like mine, your first consideration after mandated safety issues is percolation of your leach field. It can vary widely over even an acre. The health department will be running a perc test on your proposed spot, but you may want to do your own perc tests in several spots to see if there is much variance.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 7:01PM
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