How Does A Septic Tank Work Texas? (Best solution)

  • They work by collecting the excreta and wastewater in one big underground tank, they are predominantly used in rural areas. Septic tanks are not used much in urban areas as waste in cities and towns is dealt with and transported through the sewage system, these are maintained by the water company in your local area.

How long does a septic system last in Texas?

Fortunately, concrete septic tanks, which are found in this area, can last 40 years to nearly indefinitely with proper maintenance. A conventional septic drainfield has a varying life expectancy based on the function of the soil percolation rate, drainfield size, and usage level. Aerial of a septic system install.

Do Texas homes have septic tanks?

It’s the system of choice for approximately 20% of the new homes built in Texas an On-Site Sewage Facility (OSSF), commonly called a “septic system.” The sudden increase of new housing in suburban and rural areas means that more Texas households depend on an OSSF for treatment and disposal of domestic sewage.

How does a septic tank actually work?

Septic tanks work by allowing waste to separate into three layers: solids, effluent and scum (see illustration above). The solids settle to the bottom, where microorganisms decompose them. The middle layer of effluent exits the tank and travels through underground perforated pipes into the drainage field.

How much land is needed for a septic system in Texas?

Yes, Texas State Law requires a ½-acre lot with a public water supply connection as a minimum. ANRA can issue a variance to this rule if all setbacks on the septic system design have been met. Requirements may vary by county.

How far does a septic tank have to be from a house in Texas?

The tank must serve a single-family residence on a property that’s 10 acres or larger (this residence can be the only residence located on the land). The tank cannot cause a nuisance or pollute groundwater. The tank cannot be located 100 feet or more from the property.

How much does it cost to replace a septic system in Texas?

Installation of a septic system costs between $2,800 and $8,000 with an average of $5,000. Between $5,000 and $22,500 is the range for total expenses for well and septic system drilling and installation.

Are septic tanks still legal?

Septic Tanks Explained… Septic tanks cannot discharge to surface water drains, rivers, canals, ditches, streams or any other type of waterway. you are required to upgrade or replace your septic tank treatment system to a full sewage treatment plant by 2020, or when you sell a property, if it’s prior to this date.

How much does it cost to pump a septic tank?

How much does it cost to pump out a septic tank? The average cost is $300, but can run up to $500, depending on your location. The tank should be pumped out every three to five years.

Are outhouses legal in Texas?

Outhouses are legal in Texas but there may be zoning laws which prohibit them, especially in developed areas. Even in rural areas, outhouses are only legal if they are 75 feet away from neighbor’s residences.

Does shower water go into septic tank?

From your house to the tank: Most, but not all, septic systems operate via gravity to the septic tank. Each time a toilet is flushed, water is turned on or you take a shower, the water and waste flows via gravity through the plumbing system in your house and ends up in the septic tank.

What are the signs that your septic tank is full?

Here are some of the most common warning signs that you have a full septic tank:

  • Your Drains Are Taking Forever.
  • Standing Water Over Your Septic Tank.
  • Bad Smells Coming From Your Yard.
  • You Hear Gurgling Water.
  • You Have A Sewage Backup.
  • How often should you empty your septic tank?

How do you tell if your septic tank is full?

How to tell your septic tank is full and needs emptying

  1. Pooling water.
  2. Slow drains.
  3. Odours.
  4. An overly healthy lawn.
  5. Sewer backup.
  6. Gurgling Pipes.
  7. Trouble Flushing.

How often pump septic tank?

Inspect and Pump Frequently Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years.

Do septic tanks have to be registered?

A septic tank discharges water into the ground, and the quantity of such is important so as to avoid damage to the environment. If your septic tank discharges two cubic metres or less above ground, then you don’t need to register it. If it releases five cubic metres, or less, below ground level then it is also exempt.

Can I use a plastic septic tank in Texas?

Texas Septic Tanks Save up to 50% on plastic septic tanks. These septic tanks are state approved for use in the state of Texas.

Basics for Septic Systems

On-site sewage facilities, also known as OSSFs, must be developed on the basis of a site evaluation that takes into consideration the specific requirements of the location. The system of choice for around 20% of new homes being built in Texas is the radon mitigation system. An On-Site Sewage Facility (OSSF), sometimes known as a “septic system,” is a sewage treatment system that is located on a property. As a result of the unexpected surge in new housing construction in suburban and rural regions, more Texas families are reliant on an OSSF for the treatment and disposal of their domestic sewage.

Systems that accomplish their jobs well while also protecting the environment are made possible by new methods to design and oversight of OSSFs.

A number of soil tests are ruling out traditional systems, which separate liquids from solid waste in a holding tank and then distribute them throughout a drainfield using underground pipes or other proprietary items in many regions of the state.

However, because the majority of Texas soils are incapable of adequately absorbing contaminants, different treatment procedures are necessary.

Any work on an OSSF must be done by a licensed installer or, in the case of a single-family property, by the homeowner himself or herself.

Who checks to make sure the requirements are followed?

In most areas of the state, local authorities have taken on the responsibility for ensuring that OSSFs in their area comply with all state requirements. Many local governments are “authorized agents” (AA) of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for administering the OSSF Program. Many times, the AA has a “designated representative” (DR) to assist them with their responsibilities, which include reviewing plans for constructing, altering, extending or repairing each OSSF; issuing permits; and inspecting system installation.

Authorized agents and representatives also respond to complaints to ensure that an OSSF meets minimum standards.

After that, the agent can file a criminal complaint with the local justice of the peace.

OSSFs can handle only domestic sewage. Industrial or hazardous waste cannot enter an OSSF; this waste will be treated in the soil and will ruin an OSSF by literally killing the bacteria that break down the biosolids. Remember: septic systems are designed to handle human waste, not chemicals.


All OSSFs will require maintenance at some point in their lives. Conventional anaerobic systems require the septic tank to be pumped out on a regular basis in order to remove sediments and prevent the system from backing up. It is advised that you pump your septic tank once every three to five years in order to avoid short circuiting the treatment process and causing damage. To acquire a list of registered sludge transporters in your region, go to theSludge Transporter Queryonline. Aerobic systems are more complicated and require more upkeep than anaerobic ones do.

  1. A number of regulatory authorities have enacted more strict rules, which may include homeowner training or even prohibiting homeowners from performing upkeep on their properties.
  2. In order to guarantee that the system runs appropriately, it is recommended that you contract with a licensed maintenance provider to verify, debug, and test the system as required by 30 TAC 285.91(4).
  3. Once every six months if the system employs an electronic monitor, automated radio, or telephone to alert the maintenance provider of system or component failure as well as to monitor the quantity of disinfection remaining in the system, reporting might be lowered to once every six months.
  4. If any needed repairs are not completed, the permitting authority will be notified of the failure.
  5. The pills are extremely reactive, and within 10 minutes, they will have killed 99 percent of the germs present in the effluent.
  7. Please contact us at (800) 447-2827.

Where can I find more information and assistance?

The Small Business and Local Government Assistance Section of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) provides free, confidential assistance to small enterprises and local governments seeking to comply with state environmental requirements.

Call us at (800) 447-2827 or visit our website at for more information.

Choosing a Septic System (On-Site Sewage Facility System)

The following table will assist you in determining the type of septic system (OSSF) that is appropriate for your property. Treatment and disposal methods are briefly described in this section. The links provided below will take you away from the TCEQ Web site in some cases. Please note that the following links are given merely as a service. In light of the fact that the TCEQ has no control over the content of these sites, the agency is unable to assume responsibility for the sites’ continuing validity and maintenance.

In accordance with the results of the site evaluation, use the table below to decide which systems are suitable (S = Suitable, U = Unsuitable) for a particular property.

On-Site Sewage Facility (OSSF) 9 Soil Texture or Fractured Rock 10(Most restrictive class along the media 1or 2 feet below excavation) Minimum depth to groundwater Minimum depth to restrictive horizon 1
Disposal Method Treatment Class Ia Class Ib, II, 8or III 8 Class IV Fractured Rock Measured from bottom of media 7 Measured from bottom of media 7
Absorptive Drainfield 2Septic Tank§285.33(b)(1) U S U U 2 feet 2 feet
Absorptive Drainfield 2Secondary Treatment S 5 S U S 5 2 feet 2 feet
Lined E-T 2Septic Tank S S S S N/A N/A
Lined E-T 2Secondary Treatment S S S S N/A N/A
Unlined E-T 2Septic Tank U S S U 2 feet 2 feet
Unlined E-T 2Secondary Treatment S 5 S S S 5 2 feet 2 feet
Pumped Effluent Drainfield 3Septic Tank U S S U 2 feet 1 foot
Leaching Chamber 2Septic Tank U S U U 2 feet 2 feet
Leaching Chamber 2Secondary Treatment S 5 S U S 5 2 feet 2 feet
Gravel-less Pipe 2Septic Tank U S U U 2 feet 2 feet
Gravel-less Pipe 2Secondary Treatment S 5 S U S 5 2 feet 2 feet
Drip Irrigation Septic Tank/Filter U S S U 2 feet 1 foot
Drip Irrigation Secondary Treatment/Filter S 5 S S S 5 1 foot 6 inches
Low Pressure Dosing Septic Tank U S S U 2 feet 1 foot
Low Pressure Dosing Secondary Treatment S 5 S S S 5 2 feet 1 foot
Mound 4Septic Tank S S S S 2 feet 1.5 feet
Mound 4Secondary Treatment S S S S 2 feet 1.5 feet
Surface Application Secondary Treatment S 6 S 6 S 6 S 6 N/A N/A
Surface Application Non-standard Treatment S S S S N/A N/A
Soil Substitution 2Septic Tank S S U S 2 feet 2 feet
Soil Substitution 2Secondary Treatment S S U S 2 feet 2 feet

1If a rock horizon is at least 6 inches above the bottom of the excavation, an absorptive drainfield may be employed; see 285.33(b) for further information (1). The drainage field area is inappropriate for the disposal technique if the slope is more than 30% or if the drainage field area is complicated. Only in areas where the slope is less than or equal to 2.0 percent may it be used for installation of 3 It is not possible to install this product in an area where the slope is more than 10%. 5 It is necessary to sterilize the item before disposal.

6 Requires the presence of plants and disinfection.

According to Section 285.30(b)(1), gravel analysis may be required for further suitability study (B).

Fissured rock is included in the tenth.

Treatment and Disposal System Descriptions

Septic tanks (also known as septic tanks):

  • Can be utilized as a principal treatment technique for an OSSF
  • Must be designed in conformity with Section 285.32(b)(1) of the Code of Federal Regulations

Secondary treatment options

Treatment as a second option:

  • In addition to a proprietary treatment unit (aerobic treatment unit), a typical intermittent sand filter as defined in 285.32(b)(2) may be utilized.
  • Engineers or sanitarians with professional qualifications must design the system. Only an Installer Class II is authorized to do the installation.

Please refer to Section 285.32 for further information on the testing and approval of a secondary treatment unit (c).

Non-standard treatment options

Treatment that is outside of the norm:

  • The use of activated sludge processes, rotating biological contractors, trickling type filters, submerged rock biological filters, recirculating sand filters, or sand filters that are not mentioned in 285.32(b)(2) are all acceptable.
  • When secondary treatment is necessary, it must be planned by a licensed professional engineer. Professional sanitarians can design when secondary treatment is not necessary
  • Nevertheless, only Installers Class II are qualified to complete the installation.

For further information on nonstandard treatment techniques, read Section 285.32 of this manual (d). To return to the system selection table, click here.

Disposal Processes

Absorptive Drainfields are comprised of the following:

  • Construction using perforated pipe and gravel
  • Installation by an Installer Class I or Installer Class II
  • Sizing and construction in accordance with 285.33(b)(1)
  • Sizing and construction in accordance with 285.33(b)(2)

Evapotranspiration (E-T) systems that are not lined:

  • These structures are constructed with either pipe and gravel, leaching chambers, or gravel-less pipe in either a trench or bed configuration and then backfilled with sand
  • They can be installed by an Installer Class I or an Installer Class II
  • They are sized and constructed in accordance with 285.33(b)(2)
  • They are constructed in accordance with 285.33(b)(3)
  • And they are constructed in accordance with 285.33(b)(4).
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Evapotranspiration (E-T) systems with linings:

  • They are constructed in a manner similar to an unlined E-T bed, with the exception that an impervious liner is placed between the excavated surface and the constructed disposal system
  • They can only be installed by an Installer Class II
  • They are sized and constructed in accordance with 285.33(b)(2)
  • And they can only be installed by an Installer Class II.

Pumped Effluent Drainfields (PEDs) are a type of drainage field that collects pumped sewage.

  • Pumping effluent into a small diameter perforated pipe in gravel
  • Can be installed by an Installer Class I or an Installer Class II
  • Are sized and constructed in compliance with 285.33(b)(3)

Proprietary disposal system options

Leaching Chambers (also known as leaching chambers):

  • The effluent is deposited into bottomless chambers that are linked together with solid walled pipe, and they are installed in a manner similar to an absorptive drainfield
  • They are sized and constructed in accordance with 285.33(c)(2)
  • They can be used in the following systems as a substitute for pipe and gravel without any reduction in drainfield sizing:
  • Systems utilizing electro-thermal energy
  • Low-pressure dosed drainfields
  • Or soil replacement drainfields

Pipe with no gravel:

  • In the same manner as an absorptive drainfield, but the effluent is deposited into corrugated pipe of either an eight-inch or ten-inch diameter that has been wrapped with geo-textile fabric
  • May also be used in E-T systems as a substitute for pipe and gravel
  • And are sized and constructed in accordance with Section 285.33(c)(1) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

Irrigation via Drip:

  • Small diameter pressurized lines with pressure reducing emitters spaced at maximum intervals of 30 inches
  • Requires design by either a professional engineer or a professional sanitarian
  • Can only be installed by an Installer Class II
  • Is designed and constructed in accordance with 285.33(c)(3)
  • And requires design by either a professional engineer or a professional sanitarian.

Non-standard disposal options

LPDs (low-pressure dosed drainfields) are drainfields that are dosed at a low pressure.

  • Dispose of effluent that is pumped under low pressure into a solid wall force main and then into a gravel-filled perforated distribution pipe and requires professional design by an Engineer Class II or Professional Sanitarian
  • Can only be installed by an Installer Class II
  • Are sized and constructed in accordance with 285.33(d)(1)
  • And require a professional design by an Engineer Class II or Professional Sanitarian.

Disposal of surface application waste:

  • The term “septic system” refers to a method of disposing secondary treated effluent onto the surface of the ground after the maintenance of on-site sewage facilities (Septic Systems). It cannot be used to apply effluent to unseeded bare ground or areas used for growing food, gardens, orchards, or crops that may be used for human consumption. It must be designed by a professional engineer or professional sanitarian. It can only be installed by an Installer Class II.
  • Do not exceed the native soil surface
  • Must be designed by a professional engineer or professional sanitarian
  • Can only be installed by an Installer Class II
  • Must be sized and constructed in compliance with 285.33(d)(3)
  • And must be erected above the native soil surface.

Drainfields that substitute for soil:

  • Construction is similar to that of an absorptive drainfield, with the exception that a 24 inch thick Class Ib and II soil buffer is placed below and on all sides of the drainfield excavation to an elevation equal to the top of the porous media
  • Must be designed by a professional engineer or professional sanitarian
  • Can be installed by an Installer Class I or Installer Class II
  • Are sized and constructed in accordance with 285.33(d)(4)
  • And are constructed in accordance with the requirements

To return to the system selection table, click here.

Understanding and Maintaining your Septic System – Texas A&M AgriLife

With contributions from Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer Bruce J. Lesikar; Extension Assistant Justin Mechell; and Texas Water Resources Institute Research Assistant Rachel Alexander The Texas A & M University System For your wastewater treatment system to work optimally, it is vital that it be operated and maintained correctly. Taking good care of your system also includes:

  • Protects the health of those who live on or near your land
  • Aids in the preservation of your property values
  • Aids in the preservation of the quality of groundwater
  • And aids in the prevention of your sewage from polluting neighboring waterways.

In order to understand how to run and maintain onsite wastewater treatment systems, you must first understand how they work and what factors influence their operation and maintenance. A onsite wastewater treatment system is comprised of four components, as shown in Figure 1: a wastewater source, a wastewater collecting and storage system, pretreatment components, and final treatment and dispersion components.

Wastewater source

The wastewater source is the domestic wastewater generated by the treatment system’s customers, such as households, schools, and companies. Sources of wastewater can have a significant impact on the contents and strength of the wastewater, which is 99.9 percent water. Wastewater from domestic sources includes plumbing fittings, appliances, toilets, bath and laundry facilities, as well as dishwashers. Water system owners should be aware that whatever they put down their sinks or drains might flow through their system and into their groundwater or surface water supplies.

Collection and storage

When it comes to residential systems, the collecting component is often a solid, inflexible pipe that collects wastewater from plumbing fixtures and appliances. In order to reach the pretreatment component, this pipe must be installed at a downward slope of no less than 1 percent (1/8 inch drop per foot of pipe). It departs the structure and continues to the pretreatment component. Alternative collecting mechanisms may be available at some locations. Pump tanks for collecting waste and following lines for transporting trash to the pretreatment components are common features of these systems.

Pretreatment components

Pretreatment components eliminate a large number of pollutants from wastewater in order to prepare it for ultimate treatment and dispersal into the environment once it has been processed. Harmful bacteria that may cause sickness, as well as nitrogen and phosphorus, can be found in wastewater and encourage algae growth in water bodies to proliferate more quickly. Depending on the receiving environment and the planned use of the effluent, the appropriate amount of treatment is determined. The amount of pollutants introduced into the soil must be lowered to a level that the soil can tolerate and remediate.

Advanced pretreatment components including as aerobic treatment units, media filters, and built wetlands are available.

In the event that your house has more than two showers, a multi-head shower, a whirlpool tub, or several laundry rooms, or in the event that you create a large amount of wastewater in other ways, you will almost certainly need to construct a flow equalization tank.

This allows the onsite wastewater treatment system to receive and treat wastewater on a continuous basis. If you don’t have a flow equalization tank, you’ll have to change your way of living to accommodate the treatment system’s capacity.

Final treatment and dispersal components

Last but not least, final treatment and dispersal components are responsible for the removal of impurities and the dispersion of treated wastewater into the surrounding environment. Several techniques are available to assist with the distribution of wastewater in soil. Gravity flow systems are the most extensively utilized and least expensive of the types of systems available, and they need the least amount of maintenance and operation. Pressurized distribution systems are effective in overcoming a variety of site restrictions.

Because they are pressured, they are capable of dispersing wastewater uniformly.

While these benefits are beneficial, they also result in increased operating and maintenance requirements.

System maintenance

On-site wastewater treatment systems are available in a variety of configurations and capacities. When a house is being designed, the size of the onsite wastewater treatment system is determined by the following factors: 1.

  • The number of bedrooms in the home, as well as the square footage of the house
  • • Whether or whether water-saving fixtures will be employed
  • Site and soil issues on a broad scale

The most appropriate system is one that can manage the highest volume and strength (concentration of impurities) of wastewater for the size of the residence in which it is installed. Your water use habits have an impact on the efficiency with which your wastewater treatment system operates. If you use more water than is typical for the size of your home, your system may get overwhelmed with water, resulting in a malfunctioning system. The installation of a larger-than-minimum-size system may be necessary if you want to consume more water than the usual household.

  • Additional treatment (such as using an aerobic treatment unit, a media filter, or a trickling filter) may be required to restore the wastewater to its average strength or to eliminate the majority of the pollutants.
  • It is necessary for the wastewater to remain on the land where it is created since an onsite wastewater treatment system is a no-discharge system.
  • In order to ensure effective distribution and subsequent dispersion of effluent from your system, the site where your system will be installed must have sufficient soil.
  • The presence of shallow soils on fractured rock, Karst limestone, or gravelly sand is frequently observed on sites with shallow soils.
  • The groundwater in your home’s water well may become polluted if the wastewater is not cleaned properly before it reaches the ground.

It is recommended that you follow the maintenance guidelines provided by your system manufacturer. The general guidelines provided below might also assist you in keeping your onsite wastewater treatment system working efficiently and without problems.

Wastewater source

  • An onsite wastewater treatment system should not be treated as if it were a conventional centralized sewage system. Items that are flushed down the toilet do not vanish into thin air. This means that they must be treated by the onsite wastewater treatment system. Toilets that leak and faucets that drip should be repaired as soon as possible. If these issues continue, it is possible that your wastewater treatment system is hydraulically overloaded. Excessive usage of in-sink garbage grinders, as well as the disposal of excessive grease, are not recommended. Garbage grinders have the potential to create sludge or scum to accumulate quickly. This increases the frequency with which the septic system must be cleaned and increases the likelihood that the system may fail because the wastewater is too powerful for the system to manage. Never flush cleaning tissues, cigarette butts, diapers, or other waste down the toilet, since this might cause a blockage. This wastes water and causes an excessive amount of particulates to enter the treatment system. Soaps, detergents, bleaches, and other common home cleaning products seldom have an adverse effect on the system’s performance. However, they should only be used in moderation. Inadequate or excessive use of cleaning materials, disinfecting or antimicrobial soaps and detergents, or continuous disinfectants in the toilet bowl, may result in wastewater that is not properly treated due to the death of microorganisms in the onsite wastewater treatment system
  • Excessive wastewater flows may cause the onsite wastewater treatment system to become overloaded. If you wash all of your garments on the same day, you run the risk of overburdening the soil treatment area. Water collects on the ground surface as a result of this. Another option is to flush water through the system, which can help to transport particles through the pretreatment component.

Plumbing and electrical considerations

  • If you have a water softener, you should consider routing the flushwater around the pretreatment component of the system. Immediately send it to the final treatment and dispersion component of your onsite wastewater treatment system
  • When installing an air conditioning unit or industrial ice maker, consider routing the condensate drain away from the unit to a graywater system rather than the onsite wastewater treatment system. This additional water might cause the system to become overloaded. The electrical supply to an onsite wastewater treatment system that contains mechanical components or alarms should not be turned off on purpose. Consider not turning off the electricity when gone on vacation, for example. Water that accumulates after the electricity is turned off has not been treated and may be distributed when the power is turned back on.

Pretreatment, final treatment and dispersal

  • Natural microbes in the wastewater digest the garbage, which helps the environment. It is not required to use chemical additives in order for a septic tank to function properly. Some additives may even be detrimental to the operation of the tank. Keep in mind that the septic tank’s purpose is to collect solid waste. Adding chemicals to flush particles out of the tank and into the final treatment and dispersion component will result in the solids being encrusted in the soil. The soil treatment component, which is often the most expensive component of a system, will then need to be replaced. Make sure your septic tank is cleaned as soon as possible before sludge or scum builds up at the bottom of the tank’s outflow device (about every 2 to 3 years). If an excessive amount of sludge collects, particles will be discharged from the tank along with the liquid, potentially clogging the soil. The sewage will then come to the surface or back up into the house through the plumbing fittings. Building roadways, storage buildings, or other structures on top of pretreatment or final treatment and dispersion components is strictly prohibited. Maintenance cannot be performed on the system because of these solid surfaces since they obstruct the capacity of water to evaporate from the soil and hinder air flow into the soil. Driving heavy machinery across the components of a wastewater treatment system is not recommended. They can be crushed by the machinery. The components are intended to sustain the soil that lies on top of the system rather than the machinery that drives over it. Ensure that a grass cover is maintained over the final treatment and dispersion component. Plant warmseason grasses that use more water in the summer and overseed with coolseason grasses in the fall and winter to conserve water. Grasses drain a major percentage of the water from a system, therefore it is necessary to keep the grass cover healthy and abundant. Trees, which may be planted around the perimeter of the system, can also help to drain water. Roots from trees grown too close to the soil treatment area, on the other hand, might clog the distribution pipelines. Water flowing off driveways, roofs, and other hard surfaces should be directed away from the soil treatment area of the final treatment and dispersion component’s final treatment and dispersal component. There is a set amount of water that needs to be managed in the soil treatment area. Rainwater might overflow into the system, leaving no capacity for wastewater to pass through. Create landscaping that will channel runoff water away from the soil treatment area.
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Health considerations

  • Keep the disinfection component of your system in good working order. Chlorinators should be treated with the proper chlorine product. In UV disinfection systems, replace the UV lamp as often as it is required. Make sure you don’t come into touch with any of the liquid from the onsite wastewater treatment system. The presence of pathogens in wastewater, even after it has passed through a disinfection component, should not be underestimated. Some pathogens are resistant to chlorine treatment
  • For example, salmonella. If your system fails, or if wastewater leaks or pools on the land surface, get expert assistance from a qualified wastewater practitioner as soon as possible to eliminate the health threat and restore the system’s functionality.

You are solely responsible for the upkeep of your system. It is possible that you may need to employ an expert to ensure that your system continues to perform effectively. Having a service contract with a company that specializes in the operation and maintenance of onsite wastewater treatment technologies is a sensible and cost-effective way to ensure that your system is properly maintained and that its life is extended. When a professional performs frequent service visits, it is more likely that issues will be identified before they may cause your system to malfunction.

All issues should be resolved as soon as possible.

A system with a single problematic component is a system that is malfunctioning.

The routine inspection and correct system maintenance of onsite wastewater treatment systems will guarantee that these systems continue to be a permanent and functional component of our wastewater treatment infrastructure, even if they are not required in your region.

For more information

When selecting an onsite wastewater treatment system, it is important to take into consideration your local circumstances. For information on approved technology in your region, speak with the permission authorities in your local jurisdiction. A wastewater specialist may also offer you with information on the technologies that are currently being implemented in your region. Those interested in further information can do so by visiting the following Web sites: Committee on Environmental Quality of the State of Texas AgriLife Extension Service (Texas A&M) DSHS stands for the Department of State Health Services.


Several agencies, including the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, gave guidance and support. The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States contributed to the cost of the project. Download a printer-friendly version of this publication by clicking on the following link: Understanding and Keeping Your Septic System in Good Condition Do you have a question – or do you require the assistance of an expert? Make contact with the appropriate county office.

Septic Tank – On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF)

Residential wastewater treatment with a septic tank is the most cost-effective technology currently available. However, in order for it to function correctly, you must select the appropriate sort of septic tank for your household size and soil type, as well as maintain it on a regular basis. A septic tank is an enclosed, waterproof container that collects and treats wastewater, separating particles from effluent, as the first step in the wastewater treatment process. It does this by slowing down the wastewater flow in the tank and enabling the settleable particles to settle to the bottom of the tank while the floatable solids (fats, oils, and greases) rise to the top of the tank, therefore removing the solids.

Some of the solids are removed from the water, others are digested, and some are held in a holding tank during the process.

Tanks should be pumped by a qualified pumper once every 5-7 years for most residential systems, and they should be examined once a year for commercial systems.

Related Resources:

Checklist for Septic, Trash, and Processing Tanks: Operation and Maintenance Septic Tank/Drain Field in the Conventional Style (and inSpanish) Septic Tank/Soil Absorption Field (Septic Tank/Soil Absorption Field) (and inSpanish) Understanding and Keeping Your Septic System in Good Condition Septic Systems: A Quick Overview (DVDorVHS)

Septic Solutions – Installation

There are four primary types of septic systems to consider. The availability of all four types may not be available to every homeowner due to the fact that municipal rules may prohibit the installation of traditional systems in areas where soil absorbtion or drainfield space is restricted. Furthermore, each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks to consider. The majority of municipalities need an engineer to do a site review. The outcomes of this examination will decide the alternatives available to the homeowners.

Installation prices also differ depending on the system type, so there is a lot to consider when deciding which system is ideal for you.

Conventional Systems

Traditional septic systems may be divided into two categories: those that employ gravel in the drainfield and those that use some sort of chamber system. The earlier stylegravelled system, as the name implies, comprises a layer of gravel in the drainfield. In the course of the building, a drainfield ditch is dug that is 1 to 3 feet below ground level. Its length is decided by the amount of effluent that will be discharged into the system from the house or rural office, as well as the soil’s ability to absorb water during the winter months.

  • In order to prevent backfill dirt from filtering between the rocks and decreasing the field’s ability to absorb water, more gravel is poured around and over the pipe.
  • Despite the fact that some waste is treated in septic tanks by bacteria that live within the tank, the majority of waste treatment happens when wastewater discharged from the tank enters the drainfield and is filtered through the gravel and soil below.
  • These organisms grow and produce a layer known as a biomat, which sits on top of the soil layer and protects it.
  • The presence of these organisms helps to maintain the biomat from getting so thick that it prevents wastewater from reaching the soil below while the drainfield is in equilibrium.
  • Because gravel is used to filter the effluent, it instantly reduces the capacity of the effluent to reach soil, which is where the majority of the filtation takes place.
  • Apart from that, even when competent contractors utilize solely cleaned gravel, a certain quantity of particles is certain to stay and eventually reach the soil level, further lowering the possibility of filtering.
  • This can happen when the water table rises over the drain pipe, essentially cutting off the drainfield’s capacity to release water completely.

After that, there’s the chance of drainfield overflow, which can occur when there are more visitors in the house for extended periods of time or when taps or toilets are left running for extended periods of time.

Some of the disadvantages of gravelled systems are alleviated by gravelless conventional systems.

Typically, these chambers are made of molded high-density plastic and are available in lengths ranging from 10′ to 12′ feet.

Because we have discovered that the Infiltrator chamber system is the most successful when used in North Texas soils, Septic Solutions of Texas solely employs the Infiltrator chamber system.

When the system is put into service, waste water is transported via pipe from the septic tank to the chamber run, where it flows directly against the earth.

This is particularly effective in areas where the water table might rise near to the surface, as well as in situations where there is a brief rush in demand as a consequence of additional visitors.

Obviously, shock loading for extended periods of time will have a negative impact on the biomat since oxygen will not be accessible to parasites during these durations.

Low-Pressure Dose Systems

Low-pressure dosing systems (also known as low-pressure pipe systems) may be a viable option in situations when soil and topographical factors do not allow for the installation of a typical septic system, such as urban areas. Particularly relevant in situations where geography dictates that the drainfield be positioned up-hill from the septic tanks or where there is uneven terrain that would otherwise prevent the installation of a traditional system. Low-Pressure Dose Systems (LPDs) are designed to function in the following ways: A pumping chamber is placed in addition to the typical septic tank, which is a type of holding tank.

  1. The drainfield for an LPD application is made up of tiny perforated pipes laid in shallow, gravel-lined trenches that range in depth from 10″ to 18″ and in width from 12″ to 18″.
  2. After then, the field is allowed to drain.
  3. Shallow placement also encourages evapo-transpiration, which is the process by which evaporation and grass and other shallow-rooted vegetation serve to remove waste.
  4. Alarms will be activated if there is a significant increase in flow.
  5. Whenever a drainfield is not placed on a slope, the system will be constructed in such a manner that effluent does not exit the pumping chamber after the pump has been switched off.
  6. Furthermore, because of the employment of a low-pressure pump, the whole drainfield will be utilized in a consistent manner.
  7. However, there are several disadvantages to LPDs, including the possibility of root penetration and the blockage of drain holes by particles that leave the pumping chamber.

Finally, LPDs must be serviced on a regular basis. Electricity, a pump, and a smaller drainfield all raise the likelihood of system failure. As a result, most regulatory agencies now mandate septic system inspections by qualified septic specialists on a yearly or semi-annual basis.

Evapotranspiration Systems

The use of Evapotraspiration Systems (ETs) is often only practicable in arid and semi-arid environments. To put it simply, we are interested in climates where evaporation surpasses rainfall by at least 24 inches per year. The EP system is based on the natural evaporation of wastewater via a sand barrier, as well as the simultaneous transpiration of water through the leaves of plants and grasses grown above the drainfield, to remove pollutants. In contrast to the methods mentioned above, an ET system consists of a trench lined with an impervious barrier that drains to a collection basin below ground.

  1. Above the gravel is a layer of sand that is raised above the level of the surrounding ground.
  2. Naturally, this sort of system performs best during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, when heat and sunlight combine to deliver the most effective wastewater treatment.
  3. Applications in places with short soil depths and impermeable rock or hardpanlayers beneath the surface are recommended.
  4. Additionally, after the system has been in operation for an extended length of time, there is the possibility of salt accumulation near the surface.
  5. This is essentially the same system as an ET system, with the difference that the drainfield is not enclosed in this configuration.
  6. Generally speaking, wastewater must be able to flow through at least 2 to 4 feet of unsaturated soil before reaching the ground water table in order to be effective.
  7. In North Texas, most permitting authorities demand the construction of two fields, with the owner physically switching the wastewater flow between the fields once a month, as well as the building of two fields.

Aerobic Wastewater Treatment Systems

At this point, aerobic septic systems stand out as the only system that can be used in virtually all case where septic systems are needed. In essence, when you own an aerobic system, you are the owner of a miniature version of a municipal sewage treatment facility. As a result, your aerobic system closely resembles many of the stages and operations carried out by a municipal solid waste treatment facility. Aerobic systems and septic systems are similar in that they both treat wastewater via the use of natural processes.

  • The increase in oxygen promotes the natural bacterial consumption of waste inside the system as a result of the increase in oxygen.
  • Upon completion of this process, the resultant discharge water is clean and pure enough to be released directly over the absorption field using sprinklers.
  • The installation of aerobic systems is currently mandated by many regulatory authorities, including those in North Texas, for both new house construction and the replacement of failing conventional, LPD, and Evapotranspiration systems.
  • A low-cost maintenance contract will lessen the need for intervention and care on the part of the homeowner.
  • There is less solid waste entering the aerobic chamber as a result of this method.
  • Following that, the wastewater enters the aerobic chamber, where air is compressed and pumped into the wastewater in order to promote the development of good bacteria that eat the particles in the wastewater.
  • After that, the treated water is pumped into a pumping chamber, where it undergoes a last treatment with unstabilized chlorine before being discharged.
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The pump will discharge the water into the absorption field when a float valve within the pump chamber detects the presence of water.

In most cases, aerobic systems are not significantly more expensive to build and operate than traditional septic systems.

Typically, they are less expensive to build than LPDs or Evapotranspiration systems since they do not require the use of sand and/or gravel to prepare a drainfield prior to installation.

This maintenance contract will provide you with the assurance that your plant will operate in accordance with specifications at all times.

If your maintenance contract expires before the end of this period, you will be required to either renew it or seek a new one from another waste water treatment specialist.

For further information, please see this link.

You will not be able to acquire a building permit till this study is completed. Septic Solutions of Texas retains ownership of the copyright and reserves all rights.

Frequently Asked Questions about Septic Systems

To read more about the many types of septic systems, including: click here.

  • System types that are conventional include passive systems with drainfields, gravelled or stone systems, chambered system leachfields, low-pressure dosing systems, evapotranspiration systems, and aerobic wastewater treatment systems.

Questions Applicable to All Types of Septic Systems

Is it necessary for me to seek a permit in order to repair my septic system? Yes. Repairing any form of septic system in Texas requires a permit that has been granted by the state, with limited exceptions. In order to ensure that the individual performing the repairs has sufficient expertise and knows the proper methods and protocols for fixing the system, this law was enacted. Environmental protection, as well as the protection of the homeowner and his neighbors, are the goals of the law. What is the procedure for getting a permit for a repair or an installation?

  1. The kind of soil, the location of the system in relation to creeks, rivers, lakes, and property lines, as well as the type of septic system to be repaired or rebuilt, as well as the installation or repair plan, are all taken into consideration in the permit application.
  2. In light of the possible problems associated with acquiring permits, the majority of service providers ask that the homeowner complete and submit the application on their behalf.
  3. Is it safe to flush toilet paper down the toilet?
  4. Based on the number of bedrooms in the house, the size of the holding tank is determined.
  5. Because of this, using toilet paper should not pose an issue as long as the system is not needed to process more wastewater than it was designed to manage.
  6. This answer is dependent on the size of the system as well as the amount of individuals that are utilizing the system to provide it.
Household size (number of people)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9+
Tank Size (gallons) Duration (in years) Between Pumpings or Inspections
1, 750 19.1 14.2 12.6 1.8 1.3 1.0 0.7 0.6 0.4
1,000 12.4 15.9 13.7 2.6 2.0 1.5 1.2 1.0 0.8
1,250 15.6 17.5 14.8 3.4 2.6 2.0 1.7 1.4 1.2
1,500 18.9 19.1 15.9 4.2 3.3 2.6 2.1 1.8 1.5
1,750 22.1 10.7 16.9 5.0 3.9 3.1 2.6 2.2 1.9
2,000 25.4 12.4 18.1 5.9 4.5 3.7 3.1 2.6 2.2
2,250 28.6 14.0 19.1 6.7 5.2 4.2 3.5 3.0 2.6
2,500 31.9 15.6 10.2 7.5 5.9 4.8 4.0 3.5 3.0

In order to make repairs to my septic system, do I need to get a building permit? Yes. There are just a few exceptions to the rule that any form of septic system repair requires an official permit under Texas law. As a result of this regulation, it is aimed to ensure that the person performing repairs is knowledgeable and experienced, as well as familiar with the proper methods and processes for fixing a system. Environmental protection, as well as the protection of the homeowner and his neighbors, are the primary goals of the law in force.

  • Your local county health department is in charge of issuing permits for septic system repair and installation in Texas.
  • Septic service providers that are licensed by the county are listed on the website of the county.
  • Our team at Septic Solutions is capable of taking care of the majority of these things on our clients’ behalf.
  • A good toilet paper disposal system is built into each and every septic system.
  • It is okay to use toilet paper that has been commercially made without harming your septic system.

In what intervals do I require system pumping? According to the question, this response is dependent on how large the system is and how many people are utilizing it. The response, on the other hand, is every three to five years for the ordinary home. “

Flooding Related Questions Applicable to All Types of Septic Systems

Water overflowing from a traditional drain field might cause a septic system to flood if the field has been saturated by rain or rising stream, creek, or river water. Flooding happens in an aerobic system when the aerobic tanks become overflowing with runoff rain water and the system ceases to operate. In any instance, the first indicator that there is a problem is generally the fact that the toilets are no longer flushing correctly. In addition, because shower and bath drains are typically positioned at the lowest gravity point in the home, raw sewage may back up into these drains first.

  1. If at all possible, avoid using the system when the drain field or tanks are completely submerged in water. It is unlikely that the wastewater will be cleansed, and it will instead become a source of pollution. Conserve water to the greatest extent feasible while the system strives to recover itself and the water table drops. Make every effort to keep silt from entering the pump chamber if you have an aerobic septic system (with electric pumps). The presence of silt in the pump chamber after flooding causes it to settle, which might block the drainfield or harm the pump if it is not removed before flooding occurs. When opening the septic tank for pumping when the earth is still damp, proceed with caution and extreme caution. Mud and silt may find their way into the tank and end up in the drain field. In addition, pumping out a tank that is resting in moist soil may cause the tank to “jump out” of the earth as it is being removed. Because the earth may not have entirely settled and compacted, newer systems are more prone to pop out than older systems. While the land is still wet or flooded, it is not recommended to dig into the tank or drainfield area. Try to avoid operating any heavy gear near the drainfield or tanks while they are wet, since they are particularly prone to harm while they are flooded. This type of action has the potential to permanently impair the soil’s capacity to transmit fluids. When the septic tank is flooded, it frequently removes the floating crust of fats and oils that has formed on top of the tank. Some of this muck may float to the surface and plug the outflow tee partly. First and foremost, if your septic system is backing up into your home, check for blockages in the tank’s outflow. Clean up any floodwater that has accumulated in the house without dumping it into the sink or toilet, and give the water time to recede before continuing. Floodwaters in a house that are later pushed through or pumped through the septic tank will generate greater than typical flow rates through the system as a result of the flooding. As a result, the likelihood of an outlet tee being clogged increases considerably. Avoid coming into contact with any electric pump or equipment that may have been submerged during the flood unless the device has been thoroughly cleaned and dried. Mud and silt may have blocked aerobic systems, upflow filters, trickling filters, and other media filters, causing them to get clogged. Prior to restarting the system, these systems will need to be washed, scraped, and otherwise cleaned
  2. And

What should I do once the floodwaters have receded from my home?

  1. If you have an in-ground well, wait until the water has been tested by your county health agency before drinking it. Please refrain from making use of your sewer system until the water level in your soil absorption field is lower than any water level everywhere else in your home. If you feel that your septic tank has been damaged, you should get it professionally inspected and maintained. Damage can be detected by the presence of apparent settling or settlement of the ground above the tank, as well as the incapacity of the system to absorb extra water. Because most septic systems are below ground and entirely protected, flooding does not do significant harm to them. Septic tanks and pump chambers, on the other hand, can get clogged with silt and dirt, necessitating their cleaning. A new system may be required if the soil absorption field becomes clogged with silt due to the fact that there is no practical means to clear up the buried lines in an absorption field. In order to avoid the risk of harmful gases and germs being released into the environment, get your tanks fixed or cleaned by skilled professionals. Cleaning and disinfecting the basement floor should be done if sewage has backed up into the space. A chlorine solution containing half a cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of water should be used.

Questions Specific to Aerobic Wastewater Treatement Systems

What is the process for renewing my Aerobic System maintenance contract? Upon installation, each aerobic system is accompanied with a complimentary two-year maintenance contract, which begins the day after the installation procedure is complete. The installation business is first responsible for providing this service. Because most systems are reasonably simple to maintain during their first two years of operation, several installers do not provide maintenance services after that initial two-year period.

  1. Every year after you sign a maintenance contract with Septic Solutions, your agreement will be automatically renewed.
  2. The homeowner is responsible for all costs related with maintenance, chlorine, and pumping (as needed) of the pool.
  3. Our customers may select the contract that is most appropriate for their needs.
  4. The following activities are carried out during a normal maintenance visit: This will differ depending on the service provider.
  5. Aside from that, we also examine the amount of sludge in your holding tank.
  6. What role do the air and water pumps play in an aerobic system, and how significant are they?
  7. The air pump is used to aerate the wastewater and speed up the breakdown processes in the wastewater treatment plant.

If one of these systems fails to function correctly, the wastewater will become septic.

Is the water that is released from an aerobic system safe to consume?

Before the water is sprayed via the spray field, it is treated to destroy or eradicate germs, and then it is discharged again.

How much does chlorine cost on an annual basis?

We give our clients the option of installing a Smart=Chlor Liquid Chlorinator, which may be run at a far lower cost of chlorine than a traditional liquid chlorinator.

The most common causes of aerobic system odors are: 1) an excessive amount of chemicals being introduced into the system, 2) the presence of a restriction in the air supply, 3) more wastewater being introduced into the system than the system was designed to handle, and 4) an insufficient supply of disinfectant.

When should I add chlorine to my water?

You should keep an eye on your system to ensure that there are always a minimum of 2-3 chlorine pills in the tube at any one moment.

According to Texas law, homeowners are permitted to maintain their own wastewater systems if they have completed a 6-hour, state-approved Basic Wastewater Operations Course, passed the state test, obtained a Class D Wastewater Certificate, and obtained a certification from the manufacturer of their specific wastewater system.

Given the time commitments required to obtain a certificate, the inherent unpleasantness of checking sludge levels, and the requirement that only licensed septic providers perform all necessary repairs, the majority of customers prefer to have their system’s maintenance performed under contract with a certified sewer contractor.

Questions Specific to Non-Aerobic Wastewater Systems

What is the best way to determine the source of a problem with my non-aerobic septic system? On our website, we provide a diagnostic tool that will assist you in identifying the portion of your system that is causing the problem. Septic Solutions of Texas retains ownership of the copyright and reserves all rights.

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