The first thing you need to do when installing a septic tank is visit city hall and find out the rules and regulations. Every municipality has codes that deal with the size and placement of the tank. If you tell the inspector how many people are in the house the inspector can tell you the size of the tank required.
Nowadays they may also require that the tank be made out of a certain material. Concrete has been the traditional material, but more and more places are now requiring plastic. Plastic is lighter and easier to handle and less likely to break down over time.
The inspector can also tell you the rules and regulations for placement. It always needs to be a certain distance from the house, from your neighbor’s property line and from any source of water.
The tank also requires a field some land where the waste can be filtered through the soil. Regulations usually prescribe that fields be a certain size in accordance with the size of the tank. Regulations also require that the field be composed of certain soil particular sand, particular gravel and that this material be a certain depth and a certain distance from the topsoil.
Finally, you will need to get a construction permit.
Now that you know all the rules and regulations you can return home and start to work. First, post the construction permit in a prominent place. Then start measuring for the placement of the tank. Some areas let you do your own measuring. But others require that you have a surveyor do the measuring so that property lines are properly noted. Once the placement measurements are done an inspector usually has to visit your house to approve of the placement.
At this same time, the inspector may take a perc test’. A sample hole is dug to a certain depth within the area of your measured field. Then water, usually a gallon, is poured into the hole and timed to see how long it takes for the water to percolate into the soil. This test will determine the actual material required for your field.
Once this is all approved it is now time to start digging. Unless you are a real glutton for punishment this is where you want to rent or hire a backhoe. The people who sold you your tank always have the right equipment to dig your hole. This is a good job to leave to the professional, especially if your home needs to be deep. The sides of deep holes can easily crash in burying you and anything in the hole. Likewise, the hole may be in a precarious spot under electrical wires, etc.
Once the hole is dug it is now time to lower in the septic tank. If it is a plastic one and you have a sizeable truck you my have picked up the tank yourself and you and a couple of friends can slide it into the hole. But, if it is a concrete tank, have the supplier deliver the tank.
The supplier’s truck will come equipped with a small crane to lower the tank into the ground. Make certain the tank is level in the hole. Surround the tank’s bottom with some rock or gravel to hold it secure and level. While the backhoe is there, dig out the field to the right depth and width.
Once the tank is in place you need to connect it to the house’s plumbing system. In most cases this is easily done with plastic PVC pipe. This pipe attaches easily to each other with some cleanser, glue and a good tight twist. Plan your pipe layout ahead of time so you know the lengths and elbows you need. Usually the pipe running from the house to the tank runs slightly downhill to the tank.
Some municipalities also have rules as to how steep the run must be per linear foot. Make certain there are no leaks in these connecting pipes. Leaks will render the tank useless and pollute the ground around your house. When the pipes are sealed flush the toilet once or twice to make certain there are no pipe leaks.
Some, but not all, tanks also have pipes leading from the tank into the field. Again do your measurements ahead of time so you know what size and type of pipe you need. Once everything is hooked up many municipalities require another inspection.
Once the inspection is approved it is time to add your material. First, fill in your field with the appropriate material. Be careful not to damage any pipes in the field. Field pipes may also have small holes or slots in them through which the septic material seeps into the field. When covering the pipes with the soil material make certain you do not plug up these pipe holes.
Now is also the time to fill in the hole around the tank. Be careful here not to drop a large bucketful of dirt right on top of the tank. A heavy load of dirt falling on the tank’s top can crush the tank. Fill in the sides first and occasionally tamp the dirt tight into the ground and along the side of the tank to prevent tank movement.
All tanks have a hole on the top. This hatch is for access to the tank when it is in need of maintenance or water. Be careful not to cover up this hatch with earth. It needs to remain accessible.
Now that the field is in place and the tank is covered it is time to fill the tank with water. The tank’s manufacturer will provide guidelines as to the amount and depth of water. Too much water could burst the tank. When the watering is complete, put the cover on the tank’s hatch, throw some grass seed over all the dirt and run inside and use the bathroom.