Septic tanks are used by millions of people around the country to dispose of wastewater from their homes. Before you join the masses, there are some things you should know before installing a septic tank.
Chances are your state laws will ask for a thorough site evaluation and comprehensive soil tests to be done by the health department to see if your property is suitable for installing a septic system. The tests need to be done by an inspector who is authorized to perform them. One of the most important tests is the percolation test or “perk test”. If this test shows that your soil is not suitable for installing a septic tank then it is said that your site did not “perk”.
Percolation describes a soil’s water absorbing ability (‘perk’ is often used for short). All natural soils are able to absorb water to some degree, but a septic system requires that the soil is able to absorb water faster than a certain minimum rate (15 minutes per inch – MPI) and less than a certain maximum rate (105 MPI). Not all soils are able to fall within that range
Soils with a peak perk rate over 105 MPI will not allow enough filtering of the septic effluent that runs through the drainage field and will probably lead to contamination of the ground water. If the perk rate is below 15 MPI then there is a good chance that your septic system will fail because you will be adding water to the drainage field faster than it can be absorbed into the ground.
If all of the tests have been completed successfully then you should be able to get a permit from your local health department. Depending on which state you live in, the septic tank permits are only valid for a few years. This means that you may have to have your site re-evaluated and apply for another permit.
Once your site has been approved you will have to think about what type of septic system you want and then if you want or need to install a septic tank riser. When you install your septic tank, you may also want to install a septic tank alarm just to be safe.
The number of rooms you plan to have in your house will determine the size your septic system has to be. Once the septic system has been installed, the health department inspector must come back to approve the work before further work on the house can be completed.
Make sure you contact the health department in your area to learn about the process in your state. This should be your first step before installing a septic tank.