Like a lot of household appliances and systems, a septic tank isn’t something you give a lot of thought to until it breaks down. Sewage removal and treatment is a vital part of your home or business.
In most urban areas, homes and businesses connect to a sewer system. But more rural or suburban areas rely on septic systems for waste treatment and disposal.
You may have no idea what septic replacement or new installation entails. It can be a straightforward process, but it requires a lot of expertise and special equipment. And it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.
The information below will help you understand the processes involved in the replacement of septics systems. It also will give you an idea of how septic tanks work to keep your home or business running as it should.
Septic Tank Basics
A septic system takes the sewage from your home or business and transports it to an underground tank. Here solid waste settles to the bottom. When the wastewater in the tank reaches the level of outflow piping, it runs through the pipes into the surrounding soil or “leach field.”
Septic tanks are often made of concrete, plastic, or fiberglass. Concrete tanks are the most common. They are very durable and corrosion-proof. One downside is that they can be difficult to repair if they become damaged.
Plastic tanks are the most affordable, but they are more susceptible to damage. They also are less stable than concrete tanks and can shift in areas with high groundwater levels.
The same is true for fiberglass tanks. They are more durable than plastic ones, although they require more caution when installing them. They also are resistant to corrosion and cost in the same ballpark as concrete tanks.
Septic tanks range in size from 750 gallons for smaller homes to thousands of gallons for larger ones or small businesses. If you are building or moving to a new construction, you may be responsible for having a septic tank installed. If you suspect damage to an existing tank, a basic septic tank inspection can confirm this. It will reveal the condition of the tank and provide options for repairs or replacement.
There are several different types of septic systems you can choose from. Conventional ones use gravity to move sewage into the tank. They are the most affordable option.
Engineered septic systems separate waste in the tank and pump the liquid into the leach field. This ensures that the wastewater is evenly distributed in the surrounding area. These are ideal for areas on an incline or with less-than-ideal soil conditions.
You also can buy aerobic septic tanks that use oxygen instead of natural bacteria to break down sewage. These rely on a motor to pump oxygen into the tank.
The advantage is that they are more efficient and release much cleaner wastewater into the soil. Along with engineered septic systems, such upgrades will cost more than a conventional system.
Note that any systems that use pumps require electrical wiring. It also is common to install an alert system to indicate breakdowns in the motors. That is because, if the pumps are not working, neither is your septic system.
If you are having problems with clogging, or want to avoid it with a new system, you buy baffles to go on inlets and pipes. These are inexpensive and can save a lot of headaches and further repair costs down the road.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for septic tank manufacturing, installation, and wastewater treatment. Regulations aim to prevent contamination of groundwater or impacts on the surrounding environment.
Before installing a new septic system, you must perform a percolation or “perc” test. This measures the permeability of soil surrounding the tank to determine if it is capable of absorbing runoff so that it does not contaminate groundwater.
Perc testing confirms that the soil conditions meet government requirements. While there are federal and statewide standards, regulations can vary among counties or municipalities. You can investigate these yourself or hire a reputable septic installation company to do it for you. They will be versed in local standards and can guide you through the process.
Note that, if you live in a colder climate, technicians cannot do these tests when the ground is frozen. For this reason, some businesses only offer tests during certain months of the year.
If the soil is not suitable for a septic system, there may still be other options. One is installing biofilm, which can naturally purify the wastewater before it seeps below the water table.
Once you have done the required testing and settled on a septic system, installation can proceed. For new construction, the first step is excavation. Most installation companies will bring in a backhoe or other heavy-duty digger for this job.
For septic replacement, you will need to disconnect and remove the existing tank. Once you have removed the dirt where the tank will go, it can be slowly lowered in. This too requires the use of heavy machinery.
Once the tank is in place, connect it to the home or office’s sewage lines, or install new ones. Also, trenches for the drainage lines into the leach field can be dug at this point.
Often, technicians pack drain rock around piping to hold it in place. After installation, cover all the components with the removed dirt.
The advantage of hiring professional installers is that they have the knowledge and skills to install the septic system. They will know how deep to bury the tank and the proper slope of the drainage pipes. Also, they will be able to provide you with some septic tank maintenance tips that will help keep things running for years to come.
Find Septic Replacement and Repair
Now that you have an idea of what septic replacement or repair involves, you can decide what course of action is best for your property. The advantage of hiring a professional is that they will take care of everything from permitting to installation. And you will have the peace of mind that your septic system was installed correctly and is performing as intended.
At Klein Excavating and Septic, we offer septic tank repair and replacement services, including excavation. We also provide soil testing for new installation. Reach out to us today for a free quote and to discuss your septic tank needs.