If you've recently purchased a parcel of land for construction of your dream home, you may be anxious to break ground and get the process started. However, for home sites situated on steep or rocky hills (or just above low-lying areas prone to flooding), installing a septic tank may be a challenge. If hooking up to a public sewer line isn't an option for your property, what should you do? Read on to learn more about the best septic system designs for challenging topography.
Why is the construction of a septic system difficult in steep or marshy areas?
Septic systems are very simple in construction and design -- a septic tank usually consists of a large square or rectangular concrete box with several long "fingers" extending from it. This system is then buried in the ground a certain distance away (and below) your home. As your household's wastewater is pumped into the septic tank, solids will sink to the bottom as liquids are filtered out through the concrete walls and absorb into the deep soil or "leach field" surrounding the septic tank. Bacteria in your septic tank will eventually begin to compost this solid waste, essentially forming a mini-ecosystem that can minimize the amount of solid waste your tank holds. Although you'll need to have your septic tank pumped of solids occasionally, this process is relatively inexpensive and shouldn't need to be performed frequently.
Steep landscapes can present a challenge for septic contractors. Rather than installing your septic tank in a far corner of a relatively flat lawn, these contractors will need to excavate a building site on your property that won't compromise the structural integrity of the hill on which your house will sit. Crews may also have a harder time connecting the septic system to your plumbing if this requires blasting through rock to reach your home.
For homes being constructed just above a low-lying area that frequently floods in the rain, a septic system installed in this floodplain could make your home prone to backed-up drains. Just as liquid waste and "grey water" are able to filter out of your septic tank, water from flooded soil surrounding your septic tank can seep in -- and once your septic tank has filled with water, any additional flooding pressure could force water back up through your toilet, shower drains, or even your washing machine. As a result, it's important to ensure that your septic tank is well-protected from groundwater or buried in an area less likely to flood.
What should you do if you're forced to install a septic tank in a less-than-ideal area?
Despite the challenges your property may pose, there are several options that can allow you to install a septic tank without incurring much additional expense or delay. If the moisture or composition of your soil poses a problem, a septic mound may be the solution. Instead of being buried in the soil, these septic tanks are inside a large mound of soil that permits easy drainage. As a bonus, septic mounds are less prone to flooding than buried septic tanks.
If your home is situated on a rocky area that won't permit the construction of a septic system large enough for your home's demands, you may be able to install a grey water diversion system or composting toilet that can allow you to significantly reduce the load on your home's septic tank. By diverting water from dishes, laundry, and bathing to be recycled or disposed of outside your home, you'll be able to limit the load on your septic tank to the water and solids flushed from your toilets.
Contact a local professional, such as Rob's Septic Tanks Inc, for more information.