Not a lot of people are familiar with septic systems, much less septic system installation. Or just thinking about it can feel like all the needed preparation is such a daunting task.
To make things simpler for you, we’ve prepared an 8-step guide to help you get started.
Septic System Installation: A Checklist
1. Get local government approval
Before the installation of your septic tank, you need an approval to construct and an approval to use your septic system. An application along with the necessary documents have to be submitted to your local government or the Executive Director, Public Health.
Once you get the approval to construct, you can then proceed with the construction of your septic tank and leach drain. Note that it is considered an offence to proceed with construction or installation without approval from the appropriate governing bodies.
2. Have your soil evaluated and your property assessed for land capability
Can your land support your septic system?
Your land is an important variable here. It must be assessed to confirm that it is a match to the demands of your septic system.
Land capability is assessed according to the ability of soil to effectively absorb, purify or dispose of pollutants in effluent; the ease of excavation in preparation for installation; flood hazard; and water pollution risk.
Besides playing a part in determining the size of your leach drain and the final siting of your entire septic system, your soil plays a major part in the effectiveness of the entire structure.
Soil on your property facilitates the absorption of the remaining liquid from your septic tank. It is a natural filter for any pollutants that remain in wastewater. Thus, soil must be assessed for its absorptive capabilities.
Some types of soil have poor permeability. In such cases, drainage receptacles / leach drains need to be larger, so that more soil can be involved with the absorption process.
On the other hand, soil like coarse sand can be fast-draining that it makes filtering out pollutants from your wastewater ineffective. In such cases, a layer of fine-grained soil or loam is usually added to the sides and base of the leach drain.
Indeed, soil is crucial for the health of our groundwaters. This filtering ability of soil ensures that water quality in water sources are not compromised.
Proper siting is crucial in order to prevent untimely damage and potential environmental threat.
This is exactly why septic tanks are required by the government to be installed at minimum clearance distance from the highest groundwater source, buildings/boundaries, subsoil, and other water sources such as dams and bores.
Additionally, septic tank systems are not advised to be installed in trafficable areas as it might damage the entire system and compromise the soil’s capability to absorb wastewater due to soil compaction.
Do contact your local council for the steps necessary for land inspection.
3. Consider your septic system options
Depending on soil type and/or groundwater conditions on your property, you may need a more advanced system to effectively treat your wastewater.
Ask for a list of options from your local council on what septic systems are appropriate for your property.
Nowadays, there are more options for septic tank systems including lightweight poly septic systems and fibreglass.
4. Learn about septic system maintenance early on
Once you find out which septic system is right for you, start familiarising yourself around its proper maintenance. It’s better to do this in advance so you’re better prepared for the ensuing maintenance and installation costs.
5. Get several quotes from various septic installers
It’s vital to choose an installer who will provide value. Pick somebody who is honest and who will offer you the correct information, so you can make an informed decision.
Try finding an installer who also does septic system maintenance or pumping. If he (or she) knows there is a possibility that he will be coming back for regular maintenance, then he will have an added incentive to do the installation properly.
For an accurate quote, find an installer who will inspect your site first and will base his fee on your property’s unique circumstance.
6. Be there during the installation of your septic system
There is a lot to gain from being around during installation. For instance, you have to know where your septic system is buried so you know where to watch for any septic system failure.
This is also a great time to ask more questions. You can ask about the common causes of septic system failure that your installer has personally encountered, do’s and don’ts to avoid failure, and even ask for landscaping advice.
Plants near your septic system may prove disastrous due to root infiltration, which means that roots of plants may cause blockages, causing your septic system to fail. Verify this with your installer anyway so he can provide his own insights.
7. Acquire approval to use
As mentioned earlier in this article, once construction is done you need approval to use it to ensure that it is installed correctly. Failure to ask for approval is considered an offence!
8. Ask for installation records
Once installation is done and all necessary approvals are achieved, and you can finally use your septic system safely, it doesn’t hurt to ask for an as-built map from your installer. Any documentation on the installation that you can gather such as receipts, permits, etc., must be kept for future reference.
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