Septic tank systems make allot of people nervous. Understanding how the systems are designed, sized and installed usually helps calm some of the fear of the unknown, so here is the process:
You want to build a home. The FIRST permit you have to obtain is the Sanitary permit from the Health Department governing your area. To get this, the soils have to be identified by classification or “perking” which physically tests for absorption. Once this data is obtained, the builder presents their plan to the Health Department who tells the Builder whether they may place the home on the property. This depends on the bedroom/bathroom count, soil results and location you are wanting to place home. The Health Department designs the system for the maximum full-time-occupancy of the home + normally a 20% transient buffer. There may be some more criteria based on office. They tell you exactly where to place the tank, the field, how big of a tank, how much of what kind of field line, etc. There are at least 2 inspections of the system during install.
So, if the home you are looking to purchase has 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, the system was designed in most cases for 6 full-time + 20% transient occupancies. Using common sense like not pouring anything that congeals such as bacon grease down the sink will help keep the system flowing. I’ve been told that powdered laundry detergent is not good for a system as it can form a hard crust on top of the outflow if it does not dissolve right causing issues. Anything that can be composted can go down a garbage disposal into a system. Flush only things that are designed to be flushed.
So, are you planning on moving 2 or 10 people into the home? That makes a difference.
We as inspector’s know more than most on many aspects of things that are signs things could cause issues. We will do our best to educate you about what exists in this home you have chosen. That is what we are charged to do with not only the Septic but your entire home.
I took the time to write this out and make it available as this is a concern many have expressed to me over the years. I have a philosophy, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. If it does, deal with it.” There really is no way to guarantee a Septic tank/field is going to perform. I can tell you I have lived on one most of my 50+ years and have never had to work on one except once where a tree root broke a line. I have 2 garbage disposals that are used daily in my current home, no issues. Rarely does a system that fails have to be completely replaced, most can be repaired, pumped, etc.
I hope this eases some of your concerns. If you have any further questions, call me at 423-664-3860 and I’ll try to answer them for you.
I do hope I get to serve you,