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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSTALL REPAIR
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This septic system design reference lists and describes all of the types of septic systems, including both conventional septic tank and drainfield systems and alternative septic system designs for difficult building sites such as wet sites, steep sites, rocky sites, limited space, bad soils with no percolation or sandy soils with too fast percolation, and other difficult site conditions. We provide detailed articles about each alternative septic system design choice, listing its features, design requirements, inspection details, maintenance needs, product sources.
We include links to septic design engineers, advanced septic system products and septic design books and building codes. This document is a chapter provides in our Septic Systems Online Book.
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This document catalogs conventional and alternative septic system designs and provides links to detailed descriptions of these designs for onsite wastewater treatment. "Septic System Alternative Designs" refers to any onsite wastewater disposal method other than the widely used conventional septic tank and leach field. In the U.S. most states require that an "alternative septic system" be designed by a professional and submitted to the local health department for approval.
Examples of advanced septic designs include aerobic septic systems, chemical, composting, incinerating & waterless toilets, evaporation-transpiration (ET) septic systems, septic media filters, greywater systems, holding tank septic systems, mound septics, raised bed septics, pressure dosing septic systems, sand bed filters, peat beds, constructed wetlands, wastewater lagoons, constructed wetlands, and septic disinfection systems. Also see The Septic System Information Website.
Each of the links below presents a document with more in-depth information about each of these alternative septic system designs.
Septic Tank Types
Septic tanks are responsible for retaining solid waste in a residential onsite wastewater treatment system (septic system), and for partial treatment of sewage and septic effluent to improve its sanitation. In a typical conventional septic tank waste water is treated to about 40% of total treatment required before discharge to the environment.
The remaining effluent treatment normally occurs in the soils around and under the drainfield or absorption system. Some more advanced or alternative-design private septic systems achieve much higher levels of treatment by oxygenation (aerobic septic systems), chemical treatment (disinfection systems), or other methods. See SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES.
Septic tanks of Single vs. Multiple Compartments
More septic tank compartments means that solid waste (floating scum, settled sludge) are better-separated from septic effluent before it is discharged to a drainfield. Below we illustrate single compartment (below left) and two-compartment (below right) septic tank designs. Image source: USDA.
Advanced treatment septic tanks may use more compartments, including a final pumping chamber, as well as other features such as aerobic systems (shown at the top of this page), media filters, or effluent filters that both improve the level of wastewater treatment and also improve the life expectancy of the absorption field or drainfield.
You may also notice that our left-hand septic tank has inlet and outlet baffles constructed of concrete while the right-hand tank shows an inlet baffle constructed using plastic pipe - a common repair method if septic tank baffles are damaged.
This USDA sketch of a different two-compartment septic tank design illustrates how additional compartments can help retain solid waste in the septic tank and improve the quality of wastewater discharged to the drainfield or soakaway bed or absorption bed.
Septic Tank Materials & Construction
Typical septic tank materials of construction include
Basic septic system designs are discussed in the articles listed just below
Basic septic tank and drainfield systems are discussed at SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS. Here are some more detailed articles about basic septic system design, installation, inspection, maintenance, cleaning or pumping, & repair
Alternative or Advanced Septic System Design Types (for Difficult Sites)
Definitions of Types of Septic Systems, Toilets, Components
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Technical Reviewers & References
Septic System References & Books
Composting Toilets - Books & References
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Greywater System Books
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books
Effluent Dosing Septic System References & Products
Evapotranspiration and Evapotranspiration / Infiltration Systems for Septic Effluent Disposal
Media Filters - Septic Media Filter System References & Products
Peat Media - Septic Peat Moss Bed Designs & Suppliers
Sand Filters - Septic Sand Filter System References & Products
Sequencing Batch Reactor Septic System References & Products