Installing a Septic System on Your Own, Part 1

large area filled with dirt
If you’re moving to a rural area or a plot of land with no connection to a municipal water system, you may need a septic tank, and you may be toying with the idea of installing one yourself to save money and master this aspect of home ownership.

However, if you have little to no experience, the best piece of advice we can offer about how to install a septic system yourself is the following: Don’t.

We don’t like asking you to back down from a challenge, but septic system installation comes with very high stakes. You are, after all, dealing with large quantities of wastewater and raw sewage lying within close range of your home and the homes of your neighbors. A small mistake can be not only costly and embarrassing but also dangerous. Problems from eco li outbreaks to accidentally unearthed power lines can lead to illness, injury, and expenses that may dwarf any savings you gain by renting your own backhoe and tackling the installation without professional help.

But if you decide to move forward anyway, or if you’d like to take the first few steps on your own and then call in professionals when it’s time to dig, here are some things you’ll want to bear in mind.

You’ll need to evaluate your site and plan the project, but before you begin, check with your local zoning and construction authorities and ensure you have the proper permits. There are several factors that may make a septic installation impossible in your area.

Circumstances that may make installation impossible include:

  • Your position in the local watershed
  • The condition and drainage capacity of your soil and
  • Your proximity to other homes.

Make some calls first. Then you can begin to review your site and make a plan.