What is the average lifespan of a septic tank?
- Description. A properly designed and normally operating septic system is odor-free and, besides periodic inspection and emptying of the septic tank, should last for decades with minimal maintenance. A well designed and maintained concrete, fiberglass, or plastic tank should last about 50 years.
How much is a new septic system in Oklahoma?
A typical 1,000-gallon tank installation for a 3-bedroom home ranges from $2,100 to $5,000. Materials cost between $600 and $2,500 without labor. A complete septic system, including a leach field, tank and piping costs $10,000 to $25,000. Installing a leach field costs $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the type.
How often should a septic tank be replaced?
Typical lifespan is in excess of 30 years for GRP, PE and concrete tanks. Assuming optimal conditions of install and use, you could expect the following: Steel septic tanks have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.
Do septic tanks ever need to be replaced?
Unfortunately, septic systems don’t last forever. With regular maintenance and pumping, your septic system can last many years. However, after decades of wear and tear, the system will need to be replaced.
How long do most septic tanks last?
Septic System Basics Because it is expensive to replace a septic system, proper maintenance is important. The more proactive you are in maintaining your system, the longer it will last. In fact, septic tanks can last as long as 30 years or more.
What are the 3 types of septic systems?
Types of Septic Systems
- Septic Tank.
- Conventional System.
- Chamber System.
- Drip Distribution System.
- Aerobic Treatment Unit.
- Mound Systems.
- Recirculating Sand Filter System.
- Evapotranspiration System.
Can you have a septic tank without a leach field?
The waste from most septic tanks flows to a soakaway system or a drainage field. If your septic tank doesn’t have a drainage field or soakaway system, the waste water will instead flow through a sealed pipe and empty straight into a ditch or a local water course.
What is the most common cause of septic system failure?
Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (those with a drain field) are installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes, or high ground water tables.
Can a septic system last forever?
How long does a septic system last? On average, a new septic system will last for 20-30 years. Soil quality – the quality of soil will determine how durable your septic tank is. For instance, acidic groundwater can corrode a concrete septic tank.
What are the signs of a failing septic system?
8 Signs of Septic System Failure
- Septic System Backup.
- Slow Drains.
- Gurgling Sounds.
- Pool of Water or Dampness Near Drainfield.
- Nasty Odors.
- Unusual, Bright Green Grass Above Drainfield.
- Blooms of Algae in Nearby Water.
- High Levels of Coliform in Water Well.
Do I have to replace my septic tank by 2020?
Under the new rules, if you have a specific septic tank that discharges to surface water (river, stream, ditch, etc.) 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 many loads of laundry a day are safe to do with a septic tank?
Spread Out Laundry Loads These use less water which puts less stress on your septic system. Regardless of the type of appliance you have, you should still spread out your loads. Instead of doing several loads in one day, consider doing 1 load per day or space out 2 loads if you must do more in a single day.
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.
How can I make my septic tank last longer?
How to Keep Your Septic System Healthy
- How the Septic System Works.
- Don’t Overload the Septic Tank and Drain field.
- Use an Efficient Toilet.
- Don’t Treat the Toilet as a Garbage Disposal.
- Don’t Pour Grease Down the Drain.
- Divert Rain Water From the Septic Drain Field.
- Keep Trees Away from the Septic System.
What is the life of a septic system?
The average lifespan of a septic system is 15 to 40 years, but it can last longer if properly maintained! Think at the sink. Consider what you put into your toilet and sink and the impact it may have on your system.
Can a drain field be repaired?
There’s usually no repair for a drainfield that has failed. You probably need to replace some or all of your system.
Septic System Life Expectancy Guide for Septic Systems, Septic Tanks, Septic Drainfields and other septic components
- ASK a question or make a comment regarding the normal life expectancy of septic system components in the comments section.
InspectAPedia does not allow any form of conflict of interest. The sponsors, goods, and services described on this website are not affiliated with us in any way. The life expectancy of a septic system is: This page explains the normal life expectancy of septic systems as well as the various components that make up a septic system. The life expectancy of a septic tank is mostly determined by the materials used in its construction, but the life expectancy of septic system pipe is largely determined by the likelihood of damage by vehicle traffic, root blockage, or flooding by groundwater.
For this topic, we also have anARTICLE INDEX available, or you may check the top or bottom of the page.
Septic System Component Life Expectancy
When a homeowner understands the right techniques for septic tank care, such as the frequency of septic tank cleaning and other septic tank maintenance duties, he or she will be better able to extend the life of their onsite septic system and ensure that it is operating effectively.
How Quickly Does A Septic System Fail? How long will a septic tank, D-box, or absorption bed last?
Keep in mind that the most essential thing a homeowner can do to extend the life of a private (onsite) septic system is to pump the septic tank on a regular basis based on the number of building occupants, the size of the tank, and the amount of wastewater produced. See TANK PUMPING SCHEDULE for further information.
- Keep in mind that the most essential thing a homeowner can do to extend the life of a private (onsite) septic system is to pump the septic tank on a regular basis based on the number of building occupants, the size of the tank, and the amount of wastewater generated. A schedule for tank pumping may be found here.
How Quickly Will the Septic System Fail if We Have One or More of the Problems Listed Above?
It is not necessary to pump septic systems (tank and absorption system, or onsite wastewater disposal systems) to ensure that they do not fail instantly. However, an unmaintained septic tank no longer provides enough protection against particles in the soil absorption field. If the drain field is neglected for an extended period of time, it might limit its life and cause system failure, which may need total replacement of the soil absorption field. There are various situations when site constraints prevent the replacement of the absorption field from being possible – or at least impossible using a typical drainfield design method There are a variety of alternative designs available to address these issues.
How long do you anticipate it to endure before costly repairs to the septic tank or to the septic drain field are required?
How Long do Individual Septic System Components like Tanks, Piping, D-Boxes, Filters or Pumps Last?
Without regular pumping, septic systems (tank and absorption system, or onsite wastewater disposal systems) would eventually collapse. Solids are no longer protected from entering the soil absorption field when the septic tank is not properly maintained. If the drain field is neglected for an extended period of time, it might limit its life and cause system failure, which may necessitate a total replacement of the drainage field. There are several situations when site constraints prevent the replacement of the absorption field from being possible – or at least impossible using a normal drainfield design.
So, assuming you’ve addressed these variables in septic system life, how long can you anticipate a septic system to survive before costly repairs to the septic tank or septic drain field are required? How long can you expect a septic system to live?
What to Do ifyou have just moved into a home with a septic system
If you’ve recently purchased a property that has a septic tank, you may not be aware of the size of the tank, its maintenance history, or even the location of the septic tank in question. As a result, you should have your tank emptied out and checked for damage. The business that is pumping the tank will be able to tell you the size, age, and condition of the tank.
Reader CommentsQ A
Pete Providing your excavator digs enough space around the concrete septic tank and the tank is not damaged, it should be feasible to lift and transport the tank without difficulty. I need to relocate a 1000-gallon septic tank because of construction. My main concern is the tank’s structural stability given its age. It’s 40 years old and appears to be in fine shape; the baffles have exhibited just little degradation. Without pumping, I can’t see the edges or the bottom of the tank. If the baffles appear to be in excellent condition, I suppose that would imply a tank that is sufficiently sound to transport.
Additionally, the baffles and concrete of the distribution box appear to be of high quality (I do realize this is a separate entity).
Please keep all comments to a minimum.
“Code” compliance is, of course, a contentious issue; no one purchasing a 40-year-old home can reasonably expect that all of the home’s features will comply with current building codes, nor can the owners be required to update every item to current codes, which cover a wide range of topics from structure to mechanicals to lot line setbacks and clearances to radon mitigation.
- Septic tanks of greater capacity can lengthen the life of any drainfield in general; nevertheless, my 50+ years of expertise in this field leads me to advise that it would be folly to place any expectations on a 40-year-old septic drainfield’s ability to perform.
- It’s all too usual for new homeowners to move into a house, possibly with a younger or larger family, and immediately discover that the drainfield has collapsed due to a lack of maintenance.
- We conducted an examination on a house that was built 40 years ago and still had its original septic system.
- Working with our realtor, I’m attempting to determine if the property owners would be willing to replace it with a new 1500-gallon tank.
- Greg Once the new drainfield has been installed, if there is enough space on the site for it, the contractor leaves everything in the old field in its original condition while excavating new drainfield trenches either in another location or in parallel with the existing trenches.
- If there isn’t enough space, the entire field design is dubious and should be reviewed by a septic engineer who will take into consideration soil perc rates, available space, and other factors.
Beyond that general recommendation, I’m not sure what aspect of your site necessitates the digging up and relocation of existing lines, but I believe it has something to do with a lack of area for the fields.
Just the size of an extra hole that will have to be excavated on my land in order to fit all of the stone, sand, and whatever other materials come with it is something I’m concerned about.
Once again, thank you.
You might be wondering how much excavation and disruption will be required in the first place.
Thank you so much for your prompt answer.
That being said, he said that all of the debris from the failed field would be buried in another location in my yard, which I’m not certain about.
Alternatively, should I request that the material be taken away?
Once again, thank you.
After a few years, you switch between them, giving the one that is “off” time to thin and reduce the likelihood of clogging and failure.
It’s a well-known design, however if I were the builder, I wouldn’t make any guarantees about how long it will last.
See STEPS FOR IMPROVED SEPTIC LIFEHello Sirs and Madams, My standard drain field, which has been in place for 23 years, is nearing the end of its useful life.
His advice is to build a new chamber field and install a valve to allow for switching from one field to another.
He stated that my traditional system will self-restore after approximately 7 years and will continue to function normally.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Rita According on what you’ve described, a realistic planning estimate indicates that you’ll need to:1.
replace your existing septic tank.
create a drainage system (or at the very least scope every drainfield line and dig up a couple of sample cross-sections to see how the field was constructed, amount of gravel, biomat condition) If the tree and its roots are removed, the drainfield must be relocated to an appropriate location.
What about a system that was built in 1978 but has seen minimal use since then?
Twenty years ago, a tree root had broken the cement tank in half, so they chopped the tree root and placed root killer in it.
We wish to bring the property back to life, however we are unsure about the system after so many years of inactivity.
We had a discussion about this system at You’ll see that I’ve presented a number of questions that I hope will assist you get a better understanding of the current state of the system.
We have a steel clargester that has been in service for 30 years and manages the garbage for nine residences.
Ron, how many more years do you think it will be before it has to be replaced?
I wish there was a solution like this that worked and didn’t pollute the environment like some of the harsh chemicals that people have tried in the past.
Is there a method to divide the field into smaller sections?
Alternatively, view the FAQs on SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY- questions and answers that were originally presented at the conclusion of this page. Alternatively, consider the following:
Articles on the life expectancy of a septic system
- Pete Providing your excavator drills enough space around the concrete septic tank and the tank is not damaged, it should be feasible to lift and transport the tank with relative ease. A 1000-gallon septic tank must be relocated due to construction. My main concern is the tank’s structural stability, which is becoming older every year. 40 years old and in good shape
- The baffles have exhibited very little degradation in their 40 years of use. The sides and bottom are completely obscured unless I pump. The baffles appear to be in decent condition, which suggests that the tank is sufficiently sound to be moved about. Agreed? Additionally, the baffles and concrete of the distribution box appear to be in good condition. (I do realize this is a separate entity). It appears that changing the system is not essential because the field has been cleaned and inspected and has taken all of the water we have poured into it. Please post any and all comments. Greetings to everyone! It goes without saying that “code” compliance is a contentious issue
- No one purchasing a 40-year-old home can reasonably expect that all of the home’s features will comply with current building codes, nor can the owners be required to update every item to comply with current codes, which cover a wide range of topics from structure and mechanicals to lot line setback and clearances. In fact, just ask our next-door neighbor, Mr. Krause. He may have been forced to relocate his house twenty feet to the left. Septic tanks of greater capacity can extend the life of any drainfield in general
- But, my 50+ years of expertise in this field leads me to advise that it would be stupid to place any expectations on a 40-year-old septic drainfield’s ability to do so in particular. Even the fact that the field has “survived” for 40 years with only a modest septic tank would serve as a signal that the field is likely to be towards the end of its usable life, if not already past it. In many cases, new residents move into a property, possibly with a younger or larger family, increase the amount of water they use, and are shocked to realize that the drainage system has collapsed. Consequently, it would be advisable to include in your financial planning an understanding that you may be required to repair your septic fields at any point in the near future. On a house that was 40 years old and still had its original septic system, we performed an examination. The inspection was successful, however the septic tank was found to be only 500 gallons in capacity, while a 1500 gallon tank would have been required to be in compliance with the regulations. Currently, I’m collaborating with our realtor to determine whether or not the property owners would be willing to replace it with a new 1500-gallon tank. In addition, if the drain field is properly maintained, will this perhaps lengthen its life? Greg The contractor leaves everything in the old field alone and untouched while excavating new drainfield trenches either in a different region or in parallel with the old trenches if there is enough space on the site to accommodate the new drainfield installation. A standard distance between trenches is 5 feet (1.5 meters). If there isn’t enough space, the entire field design should be reviewed by a septic engineer who will take into consideration soil perc rates, available space, and other factors. If it’s an old septic tank that’s being abandoned, if it’s made of steel, it’s frequently crushed flat and placed in the bottom of or alongside the hole, allowing the new septic tank to be installed in about the same location. In addition to that general advise, I’m not sure what part of your site neccessitates the digging up and relocation of existing lines, but I assume it has something to do with a shortage of room for the fields. Thank you for the information and for responding so quickly. Just the size of an extra hole that will have to be excavated on my land in order to fit all of the stone, sand, and whatever other materials come with it is something that I’m concerned about right now. The laterals are also buried, and is it necessary for this to be 100 feet from our well? Please accept my sincere gratitude once more. Greg The practice of crushing old steel septic tanks and other septic components that are no longer in service, rather than hauling them away, is rather prevalent. Barry If you’re wondering how much excavation and disruption will be required, consider this: Wow! Your prompt answer has been much appreciated. An additional contractor informed me that he would replace the field with a conventional system, such as the one I now have, and that he would not install the chamber system. That being said, he said that all of the debris from the failed field will be buried in another location in my yard, which I’m not certain about. This appears to be a regular occurrence. Otherwise, should I arrange for the removal of the waste materials myself? which, I’m sure, will drive up the price much further.” Please accept my sincere gratitude once more. Greg One of your contractors has proposed a two-septic-field plan for your consideration. After a few years, you switch between them, giving the one that is “off” time to thin and reduce the likelihood of clogging and failure. I hope that by allowing the drain trenches to rest for a few years, the natural bio-mat that forms around them will thin and reduce the likelihood of clogging and failure during that time. If I were the contractor, I wouldn’t make any promises about how long it will last because it is a well-known design. Several factors influence the efficacy of the “rest time” in “restoring” the “off” drainfield, including the soil type, porosity, composition of the soil, the initial percolation rate of the soil, the degree of usage, and the history of the septic tank pumping (avoiding pushing solids into the drainfield). See STEPS FOR IMPROVED SEPTIC LIFEHello Sirs, and welcome to the site. My standard drain field, which has been in place for 23 years, is nearing the end of its service life. In order to inspect my septic system, I hired a septic professional. According to him, a new chamber field should be built, and a valve should be installed to allow for switching between fields. What I’m not sure about is how to handle this situation. He stated that my traditional system will self-restore after approximately 7 years and will continue to perform normally. This appears to be correct. Your time has been much appreciated. The email address is [email protected]. Greg Rita A plausible planning estimate based on your description is that you will need to:1. install a new septic tank
- And2. replace your existing septic tank. a drainage field should be developed (or at the very least scope every drainfield line and dig up a couple of sample cross-sections to see how the field was constructed, amount of gravel, biomat condition) 3) either remove the tree and its roots, or relocate the drainfield to a suitable distance (see theARTICLE INDEXfor an article on planting over or near the drainfield and the appropriate distances). 4) In addition, what is the status of the drainage system? For example, consider a system that was deployed in 1978 but has seen minimal use since then. How long have the premises remained vacant for? Twenty years ago, a tree root had broken the cement tank in half, so they chopped the tree root and placed root killer in it. However, the tree is still large and growing close. Because of the property’s long period of unusedness, we are unsure about the system’s functionality. Hi Mike and welcome to the site. While in the meeting, we talked about this system. Throughout the document, you will find questions that I believe will assist in providing a better understanding of the current state of the system. A difference should be made between the need for specific components such as pumps and filters to be repaired or replaced and the need for a whole effluent absorption field or drain field to be rebuilt in my opinion as well. We have a steel clargester that has been in service for 30 years and manages the garbage for nine homes. A regular maintenance schedule has been followed. It’s likely to be several more years before it has to be replaced, Ron. I’ve looked into services and systems that claim to restore drainfields, some of which are backed by (what I consider to be biased) “White papers,” but I’ve found none that have been reported as effective or as adding meaningful life to a septic field when the failure is caused by soil clogging from a mature biomat by either our readers or independent research. I wish there was a product like this that worked and didn’t pollute the environment like some of the harsh chemicals that people have tried to make it happen. No, my title five septic field, which has been in operation for fifteen years, looks to be in trouble. Is it possible to divide the field into smaller sections? At SEPTIC DRAINFIELD LIFE, you may read more. Or you may browse the completeARTICLE INDEX, or choose a topic from the articles that are closely linked to yours. For further information, check the FAQs on SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY, which were originally presented at the conclusion of this article. Alternatively, have a look at
- FORMATIONS OF BIOMATTERIALS PLANTSTREES ON TOP OF SEPTIC SYSTEMS
- EPTIC DRAINFIELD LIFE
- SEPTIC FIELD FAILURE CAUSES
- EPTIC SYSTEM AGE
- EPTIC LIFE
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AT INSPECTION, THE EXPECTANCY OF SEPTIC LIFE An online encyclopedia of building environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, and issue preventive information is available at Apedia.com. Alternatively, have a look at this.
INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES:ARTICLE INDEX to SEPTIC SYSTEMS
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Septic System Basics for Realtors – Oklahoma State University
Sergio M. Abit Jr. and Larry Boyanton wrote this article. Whether in connection with the acquisition or sale of a plot of land or a house, the realtor is the primary source of information and guidance for both the buyer and the seller. Information about the neighborhood, accessibility to good schools, the number of rooms, kitchen amenities, the land area, and the number of bathrooms are all normal topics of conversation between a customer and a real estate representative. Although septic systems and other domestic wastewater treatment systems are commonly addressed in depth, they are rarely discussed in depth on the internet.
The realtor should inform the client whether the land for sale would necessitate the installation of a highly expensive septic system (say, $10,000) in order to obtain a construction permit, so that this fact may be taken into consideration during the purchase discussion.
This Fact Sheet will cover the following important aspects that realtors should be aware of when advising their customers: 1) The fundamentals of a septic system; 2) critical information for land buyers; 3) important information for home buyers; and 4) the many systems that are permitted.
Septic System Basics
Households that are not in close proximity to municipal sewage lines are required to have on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS or septic systems). Some of the most straightforward methods rely mainly on gravity for wastewater dispersion and soil treatment to achieve treatment results. Other systems, particularly those that rely on electricity and involve mechanical components that are powered by complicated electronics, are more expensive and need more frequent maintenance. Toilets and drains are among the components of a septic system, as are domestic plumbing, outside tanks for wastewater storage and pre-treatment, and soil on the property, which is responsible for ultimate treatment and decomposition of the waste.
- The specifics of the various OWTS that are permissible in Oklahoma are detailed further below.
- All efforts must be made to ensure that the suitable sort of system is installed for the desired household size, that it is adapted to the soil and site features of the location, and that it is professionally installed in order to achieve this.
- All systems require some level of maintenance at some point.
- Septic system failure has financial implications for customers (both property sellers and buyers), but it also has the potential to have negative health and environmental ramifications for the environment.
Chemicals and bacteria found in improperly treated wastewater pose a threat to the health of both the home’s residents and those who live nearby.
Land Buyers’ Questions that Realtors Should Address
In areas where the municipal or city sewage system does not reach or where the municipality does not have a centralized wastewater treatment facility, a septic system is required to handle the waste generated. If you are unsure, contact your local utility office.
Does the lot/area meet minimum requirements for installing a septic system?
Whether the land has enough room for both the home and the OWTS should be determined by the real estate agent. In the general intended installation area, it is recommended that at least 10,000 square feet be set aside for the OWTS. Aerial view of the property showing dry portions of the land that are immersed in water at different periods of the year. Furthermore, the region should be easily accessible to installers as well as the equipment required for earth-moving operations associated with the installation.
It is necessary to have a minimum lot size of three-fourths of an acre in order to establish a drinking water well in the region.
Other site-related factors to be considered
Even if the terrain is sloping, it is possible to install OWTS on a sloping region. Installation of OWTS in reasonably level locations, on the other hand, is less difficult for installers and does not need extensive earthwork (meaning, less labor cost). The installation of an OWTS is not recommended in locations with a slope higher than 10%, according to general consensus. Proximity to a protected water body: The realtor should identify whether or not the property is located inside the Water Body Protection (WBP) area as defined by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality laws and regulations (DEQ).
This indicates that the consumer will have to pay a higher price for the OWTS services.
Codes and limits on subdivisions: If the property is located in a housing subdivision, it is best practice to double-check if the Subdivision Covenant/Agreement has any limits on septic systems or not before purchasing the property (e.g.
Separate from the space planned for OWTS installation, there should be sufficient space next to the intended OWTS installation site that might be designated as a “repair area.” If the initial system deployed fails, dispersion lines will be built in the repair area to prevent further damage to the environment.
What possible types of septic systems can be installed in the property of interest?
Septic systems that would be approved in the region would be determined mostly by the soil and site characteristics of the property. One must first understand the soil types present in the region before being able to get an initial impression of the types of systems that might be put in the area. It is possible to obtain information on the soils in the area by visiting the website. For further information on how to obtain the essential soil information, see the Oklahoma State University Extension leaflet L-430, Land Buyers’ Septic System Guide for Oklahoma.
System types that are approved in the state include six different types. The many sorts of systems that are permissible in Oklahoma will be examined in greater detail later.
How much money and time needs to be allocated for septic system installation?
The cost of installation varies greatly based on the type of system, the location, and the characteristics of the site. It is recommended that homebuilders consult with a local installer to determine the range of installation costs that are appropriate in their location. Installing the different OWTS is predicted to take a certain amount of time, as shown in Table 1. Table 1 shows the data. The estimated time required for the installation of different OWTS intended for a two-bedroom residence that produced 200 gallons of wastewater per day is shown in the table below.
|On-site Wastewater Treatment System
|Shallow Extended Subsurface Absorption Field
|Low Pressure Dosing System
|Aerobic Treatment System
Who can install septic system?
It is essential that you hire the services of a septic system installer who is certified by the state. For a septic system installation to be successful, the homeowner or installer must obtain a soil profiler to describe the soil in the area chosen for installation. The installer will construct the system and submit the necessary permits to the local DEQ office based on the description of the site and soil parameters supplied by the soil profiler. The performance of a percolation test, which measures the rate of downward water flow through the soil, may be required in particular circumstances.
A list of State-certified installers may be accessed at the following address: The list of licensed soil profilers may be obtained by contacting the local Department of Environmental Quality office.
Home Buyers’ Questions that Realtors Should Address
Possession of a comprehensive maintenance record demonstrates that the owner takes good care of the property and, to a certain extent, can testify that the system will continue to function for a fair period of time after the purchase. Consider the scenario in which a realtor, who is expected to be familiar with the specifics of a home, was unable to answer a simple question such as “When was the last time the septic tank was pumped?” or “When was the last time the aerator was serviced?” This would be analogous to a used vehicle dealer being unable to provide a response to the query concerning when the automobile’s last oil change was performed.
If a buyer inquires about this information, the selling agent should request that the seller supply it to the buyer.
Do I need to update the septic system if I make house expansions?
The septic system is built to accommodate a specific dwelling size (number of occupants and bedrooms). If more bedrooms are added to the property after the purchase in order to suit a bigger family size, the OWTS may need to be amended or adjusted to reflect this. It is important to verify with the local Department of Environmental Quality office.
Is the current OWTS covered by installation warranties and service agreements?
Aerobic treatment systems in the state of Oklahoma are subject to a two-year mandatory maintenance period, according to state regulations (ATS). This rule requires that the installer of an ATS maintain the system for a period of two years following the date of installation at no additional cost to the homeowner. As a result, it is critical that the realtor is aware of when the ATS was installed. A realtor’s knowledge of any manufacturer warranties and/or whether the OWTS is currently covered by a maintenance agreement is also advantageous.
Regardless of who installed and is currently maintaining the system, the realtor should be aware of this in order to inform homebuyers of whom they should contact in the event of a malfunction.
What if the septic system would have problems?
This is where knowing the installer’s and service provider’s details would be extremely beneficial. When there are issues with the system, it is best to contact someone who is knowledgeable with it. Additionally, it is critical to ensure that the property has a repair area (discussed earlier). The construction of structures on land that was originally designated as a repair area might pose a major threat to the integrity of the site.
What are the maintenance requirements of the existing system?
The amount and kind of maintenance required varies depending on the system. Especially if the purchasers have no prior experience with septic systems in a previous residence, it is preferable if the realtor can advise them of basic maintenance needs and advice. There may be cases in which homebuyers are unwilling to cope with the additional “hassle” of maintaining a system, which is why this is crucial to understand. Refer to Extension Fact SheetPSS-2914, Keep your Septic System in Working Order, for further information on the specific maintenance needs of different systems.
Here are a few simple maintenance tips a realtor could share with a homebuyer:
Work within the system’s daily treatment capacity to ensure a successful outcome. The volume of wastewater that a system can treat in a day is limited by the period of time the system is operational. It is the responsibility of the property owner to be aware of this restriction and to ensure that it is not exceeded. In certain circumstances, this might necessitate changes to the way key water-using appliances in the house are configured. For example, delaying washing until after visitors have left, limiting the number of loads of clothing laundered each day, and refraining from using the shower, clothes washer, and dishwasher at the same time are all examples of modifications.
- Knowing how the present OWTS operates will give prospective home buyers an idea of the degree of care and skill required to keep the system in good working order.
- Be mindful of what should and should not be flushed down the toilet.
- Kitchen sink drains should not be clogged with grease or cooking oils that have been utilized.
- Using the toilet or sink to dispose of household chemicals or unwanted drugs such as antibiotics or hormonal therapies is never a good idea.
- Have your septic tanks inspected on a regular basis.
Septic tanks have a maximum capacity for the quantity of solid waste they can handle. Table 2 indicates the estimated frequency of septic tank pumping as determined by the manufacturer. Table 2 shows the estimated frequency of septic tank inspection and pumping in years (adapted from Mancl, 1984).
|Number of People Using the System
|Tank Size (gallons)
Keep the spray field/drain field in front of the home in good condition. Knowing where the lines or spray heads in your drain field are located is the first step in properly managing your drain field. Homeowners should take the following steps to guarantee that the soil in the drain field outside the house is in proper working condition: Maintaining an appropriate grass cover over the drain field, diverting surface waters (runoff and water from gutters) away from the drain field, and keeping heavy traffic, such as vehicles and heavy equipment, away from the drain field are all important considerations to consider.
Permissible Systems in Oklahoma
Traditional on-site wastewater treatment systems are the most extensively utilized and least expensive form of on-site wastewater treatment system available. Essentially, it is comprised of two major components: 1) the septic tank, and 2) the soil treatment area (STA). If the site has deep, excellent soils (loamy sands, loam, clay-loam, sandy clay), and the soil size criteria of the STA are met, this is the ideal approach. In this system, wastewater treatment is performed in the soil, and wastewater distribution is accomplished by the use of gravity throughout the STA.
The schematic representation of a standard septic system is depicted in Figure 1.
Low Pressure Dosing (LPD) System
Although comparable to the traditional system, the low-pressure dosing system incorporates a pump tank instead of a pressure regulator. It is employed in locations where there are only minor restrictions in terms of soil texture, soil thickness, and area size. When employed in locations with coarse soils (such as sand or loamy coarse sand) that do not match the land area requirements of a traditional system, it can be very effective in improving water quality. The pressure created in the pump tank is utilized to spread the effluent evenly across the whole soil treatment area, as shown in the diagram below.
Evapotranspiration/Absorption System (ET/A)
A third alternative is the ET/A system, which is suitable for locations with fine-textured soils (high clay content). If you live in a location where evapotranspiration surpasses precipitation, this system is a very suitable alternative for you. One acre is the bare minimum lot size required for this system. In Oklahoma, this would be more appropriate in locations west of Interstate 35 (for example, the panhandle) than in the state’s southeast.
Aerobic Treatment System
In Oklahoma, the aerobic therapy approach is now quite popular among residents. It is employed in regions where there are significant limits in terms of soil texture, soil thickness, slope, and other site constraints. It is equipped with an aeration tank, in which the wastewater is bubbled with ambient air (has about 20 percent oxygen). Introduction of oxygen considerably increases microbial activity, which in turn improves wastewater treatment prior to application to the soil or groundwater Subsurface drip lines or a spray irrigation system can be used to disseminate effluent, or it can be used to apply it to the surface.
This system will require a significant amount of maintenance compared to comparable systems. A schematic representation of an aerobic treatment system is shown in Figure 2. The garbage tank, the aeration tank, and the pump tank are the three compartments/smaller tanks in another form of this system.
Using treatment lagoons in locations where evaporation exceeds total precipitation is a viable option. When it comes to wastewater disposal, it mostly relies on evaporation. In this system, a large open pond serves as the storage and evaporation area, while a septic tank serves as the pre-treatment area for wastewater. On any type of soil with a minimum lot size of two and a half acres, lagoons are permissible for construction.
When none of the systems outlined above can be implemented or is not practicable, there are other options. The use of an alternate OWTS is required in these situations. Contact your local DEQ office or call 405-702-6100 for more information about alternative systems, including the many types of systems that are available and how to apply for and get permission for alternative systems in your area. Refer to Extension Fact Sheet for a more in-depth description of the different OWTS that are authorized in Oklahoma.
LB Home Services is owned and operated by Larry Boyanton, who is a certified installer, plumbing contractor, and licensed home inspector.
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Submitted by Sergio M. Abit Jr. and Emily Hollarn Several of us are interested in building or purchasing homes in the country for a number of reasons. It is possible to be closer to nature by living outside of city limits. It is also possible to cultivate vegetables and raise farm animals, and it is possible to live a simple and calm life in a rural environment by living outside of city limits. One thing to keep in mind is that, while living in the country has many advantages, access to the comforts that towns offer is not always available, especially in rural areas.
The latter requires the installation of an on-site wastewater treatment system, which is more frequently known as a septic system.
This information sheet outlines the requirements that must be followed while obtaining an installation permit, complying with site and soil limits, and installing and maintaining septic systems.
PSS-2914, Keep Your Septic System in Good Working Order, and PSS-2913, On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems Permitted in Oklahoma are two of the state’s most important standards.
Much of this information sheet is prepared in a simplified question and answer style, however there are certain sections that have been taken practically literally from the Code of Federal Regulations.
Site Requirements and Restrictions
Is there a minimum lot size requirement for building a home? With the usage of public water (such as that provided by the city or the rural water district), a minimum lot size of 12 acres is required for the majority of septic systems for a residence that will require one. The use of an individual drinking water well necessitates the usage of a minimum lot size of 344 acres for the majority of systems. What is the definition of a “repair area” requirement? Aside from the space set up for septic system installation, an adequate amount of space should be set aside for repair work.
- When purchasing a home, inquire as to the location of the authorized repair area.
- Where is the best location for the septic system to be installed?
- Keep in mind that there are minimum separation distances between items such as water wells, property boundaries, and buildings, as well as other restrictions to follow when driving.
- Water Body Protection Places (WBPAs) are those areas that are located within 1,320 feet of water bodies (such as rivers and lakes) that have been identified by the state as being specifically protected against pollution and are classified as such.
- This indicates that the cost of the septic system in that location will be higher.
- However, it is important to remember that the requirement for a nitrate-reduction component applies only to new homes or modifications to an existing home’s septic system.
- It is recommended that at least 10,000 square feet be set aside for the septic system in the region where it will be constructed, but this is not a requirement as a general rule.
The exact amount of the area required for the septic system will initially be determined by the soil and site characteristics of the surrounding region.
The number of bedrooms in the house is taken into consideration once the proper septic system has been selected in order to estimate the real size of the space that must be given for the septic system.
Generally speaking, the more bedrooms in a house and the finer the soil texture in the surrounding region (i.e., the more clay in the soil), the more space is required for a septic system to be installed.
As previously said, the soil and site qualities influence the type of septic system that may be installed as well as the amount of the land space that is required for the installation.
What type of soil testing will be required?
When the results of a percolation test are obtained, they may be used to determine the rate of subsurface water flow at depths where residential wastewater is typically applied.
Either test might be used as a starting point for making judgments about a septic system.
It should also be noted that if the test done is a soil profile description, the amount of land required for the septic system is typically less.
When the choice has already been taken to establish a lagoon system or an aerobic treatment system with spray irrigation, a soil test is no longer necessary, since the system is already in place.
Soil profile descriptions may only be performed by soil profilers who have received state certification.
Testing for percolation can be carried out by professional engineers, certified sanitarians, environmental specialists, or soil scientists.
A note on soil testing: Some communities in Oklahoma require a soil test result before approving a construction permit application.
What is it that requires a permit? Septic system installations, including the addition of an extra system, on a property must be approved by the local building department prior to proceeding. Permits are also required for modifications to an existing system. It is possible that septic system improvements will be required as a result of the following: a) Septic systems that are not working properly, b) home renovations that result in an increase in the number of beds, c) an increase in water consumption as a result of a change in the usage of a house or building, and d) the movement of any component of a septic system.
Where can I acquire an installation or modification permit, and how do I get one?
To submit an application for a permit, go to DEQ Applications or contact your local DEQ office for help.
Often, the installer will take care of the paperwork for you, including the installation or modification permission application.
Inspections are carried out by whom, and when are they necessary? There are two situations in which an inspection by DEQ officials is required. They are as follows: The following are examples of non-certified installations: 1) repairs and system changes made by a non-certified installer; and 2) installation of new systems performed by a non-certified installer Prior to backfilling and/or placing the system into operation, the inspection must be completed to ensure that the installation, modification, or repairs are of satisfactory quality.
The fact that a state-certified installer performs the installation, alteration, or repair eliminates the requirement for DEQ employees to conduct an inspection because qualified installers are permitted to do self-inspection is worth mentioning.
The installer is responsible for notifying the DEQ of any needed inspections relating to an installation, alteration, or repair that may be required.
Who is qualified to build a septic system? It is essential that you use the services of a septic system installer that is licensed and certified by the state. A list of state-certified installers can be obtained from the local Department of Environmental Quality office. Non-certified installers are only permitted to install a restricted number of systems in the state of Oklahoma. These installations, on the other hand, must be examined and authorized by DEQ staff before they may be backfilled and/or turned on.
Installers are able to charge a fee for their own version of a warranty and maintenance plan that they provide to their clients.
This law requires the installer of an ATU to provide free maintenance for the system for two years from the date of installation, at no additional cost to the homeowner.
Purchasing a home when the ATU in the home is still within the warranty term enables you to continue to get warranty coverage until the two-year period has expired.
Responsibilities of the Owner
Septic systems that are properly maintained will remove dangerous contaminants from home water. Owners, their neighbors, and the environment are all at risk if their systems are not properly maintained and operated. In plain language, the rule mandates that the owner of a system be responsible for ensuring that the system is properly maintained and operated so that: 1) sewage or effluent from the system is properly treated and does not surface, pool, flow across the ground, or worse, discharge to surface waters, 2) all components of the system (including lagoons) are maintained and do not leak or overflow, and 3) the necessary security measures are in place (e.g.
- required fences are intact, septic tank lids are intact and properly secured).
- Civil and criminal fines may be imposed for violations and carelessness.
- Abit Jr., Ph.D., is a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Septic systems on private land are used by approximately 26% of Pennsylvania houses for the treatment of domestic sewage. The majority of these residences also have their own private well for drinking water. If you have a septic system, be sure to operate it properly! If you understand how your system operates and how to maintain it, you will be able to do the following:
- Safeguard your drinking water supply and your health
- Maintain the longevity of your system—and prevent spending thousands of dollars for a new system
- Protect the value of your home
- And contribute to the protection of Pennsylvania’s groundwater, streams, rivers, and lakes
Because of Pennsylvania’s geology, soils, land development patterns, and outdated septic systems, there is a danger that poor septic systems may contaminate our groundwater and surface waters—our streams, rivers, and lakes—as well as our groundwater and surface waters Surface waters that have been polluted with viruses and bacteria from sewage pose a greater risk of swimmers being ill with eye and ear infections, acute gastroenteritis, hepatitis, and other infectious disorders.
It is possible that groundwater contamination will poison your own and others’ drinking water supplies, resulting in the transmission of illness to humans and animals.
In 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection stated that septic system failure was responsible for 202 impaired stream miles and 3,192 damaged lake acres in the state.
Who Has Oversight of Your Septic System?
In Pennsylvania, local governments (for example, boroughs and townships) are responsible for ensuring that private septic systems with a capacity of 10,000 gallons or less comply with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations. In the event that you have any queries regarding an existing septic system on your land, or about the construction of a new system on your property, you should contact your local government office first. Many towns have a Sewage Enforcement Officer who ensures that all septic systems are correctly sited, permitted, and inspected throughout their installation to verify that they follow all regulations.
Septic system maintenance is required by law in certain towns, and other municipalities maintain a sewage management program to ensure that property owners carry out this maintenance.
Soil Is Your Best Friend: How Your Septic System Operates
Not only does your household transmit human waste into your septic system, but it also sends all other liquid wastes into it, including bath water, kitchen and bathroom sink water, laundry water, and water softener backwash. Consequently, here’s what occurs underground when you flush the toilet, wash your clothes, use the sink or bath: The heavier solid stuff descends to the bottom of the septic tank, where microorganisms feed on the waste and break it down as a result of their activity. Fatty oils and greases that are lighter in weight float to the top of the tank, where they congeal to create a scum that may ultimately break down or be skimmed off during system maintenance.
- Disease-causing bacteria and viruses are present in the wastewater as it exits the tank, in addition to other impurities.
- Sewage travels through a pipe to a drainfield, which is a bed of gravel or other material used to collect the waste.
- Therefore, soil is the most significant component of a septic system because of its filtering abilities and the bacteria that it contains!
- Several factors influence the sort of septic system that may be installed, including the soil depth to bedrock or groundwater, how fast or slowly water travels through soil, and soil type and texture, to mention a few.
Keep Things Moving Underground
It is believed that the typical lifespan of a septic system is between 15 and 40 years, although it may live much longer if it is properly maintained. Maintaining your septic system is similar to changing the oil in your automobile. It is a low-cost investment compared to the high cost of constructing a new system, which may cost up to $15,000 and more. Don’t overburden the commode with your thoughts when you’re at the sink. Take into consideration what you flush down the toilet and down the sink.
It is best to avoid utilizing common household objects that might clog your system or kill the bacteria underground that are necessary for wastewater treatment.
- D diapers, baby wipes (including those labeled as “flushable”), cat litter, cigarettes, coffee grounds, fats and grease, solids (including feminine hygiene items), and prophylactic devices are all examples of “system cloggers.” “TreatmentKillers” include household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, paint, and excessive concentrations of anti-bacterial soaps and detergents, among other things.
Don’t put too much pressure on your drain. The less water that you use, the less work your septic system needs to do to keep up with you. Use water-based appliances in small batches, install high-efficiency plumbing fittings, and address any leaks that may exist in your house. Protect your playing field. Keep anything that weighs more than your lawnmower away from your drainage field. Rain and surface water should be diverted away from it. Root clogging in the drainfield might cause the system to fail, therefore avoid planting trees or shrubs in close proximity to the drainfield.
It should be safeguarded and regularly inspected.
According to Pennsylvania laws, this should be done whenever the tank is more than one-third full of solids or scum.
Inspections and pumps may be required under the terms of your local sewage management program, which may be more strict.
For further information, contact the Sewage Enforcement Officer at the local government office where you live. It is important to be aware of the following warning signals of a failing septic system:
- Backing up or bubbling of wastewater into residential drains
- There is an unpleasant smell, or there is some black sludge surrounding the septic tank or drainfield. In the vicinity of your drainfield, you may notice bright green vegetation or spongy conditions.
If your sewage system is not operating properly, contact your local Sewage Enforcement Officer right away. It is important to respond quickly since the less pollution that occurs, as well as the lower the expense of repair work, the better. Your septic system will serve your house and contribute to the protection of Pennsylvania’s waterways for many years to come if it is operated and maintained properly. Do your part and learn about septic systems!