After you’ve investigated your permit requirements, you’ll need to apply for the approval of your local health department. Your health department will want to know the shape and layout of your lot and the volume of water that your system will be required to handle on a regular basis. When you make the call, you’ll be sent a packet of application materials and forms you’ll need to complete, and you may need to have your site evaluated by a licensed inspector. All of this will need to take place before the first bit of ground can be broken.
To gain approval from your local health department, you’ll need to have your soil classified. The soil classification system used for septic tank planning is provided by the USDA. Your soil must contain an adequate mixture of sand, silt and clay to allow proper drainage and to support the helpful bacteria that neutralize septic tank outflow. To test your soil, you’ll need to dig a few holes about six feet deep at every edge of your intended drain field.
Once you know your soil type, have your permits in hand, and have gained the approval of your health department, then you can finally begin plotting out the exact perimeter of your drain field and tank. Your health department will provide you with a chart that contains size requirements based on the number of bedrooms in your house and the sand-to-clay ratio of your soil.
Neither your health department nor this blog will tell you how to dig and install your own system. But what we can tell you is this: There are plenty of experienced professionals in your area—including your local Mr. Rooter!—who can step in at this point and complete the process safely and correctly.