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How To Transition To A Septic System

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If you have a new property, or an existing property where you want to transition to a septic system, you can. It's likely that you'll need to have this private disposal system installed by a professional, because there is a significant amount of digging involved. The job entails getting a sewer line, a septic tank, and an absorption field. Here are the steps involved in transitioning to a septic system.

Apply for Permission From Your Town

Your town will have regulations regarding a septic system installation on your property. Typically, the local health department will be the oversight regulatory organization, but your local town hall will have specifics about how to obtain permission and what forms you need to submit.

Measure for the System Size

The biggest thing you have to worry about is making sure you have enough land for the absorption field. To do this, you'll first need to find out the absorption rate of the soil where you intend to have the septic system installed. To do this, you'll do what's called a percolation test. This is something you can do yourself, but you can also have a septic system company technician do it for you. 

Dig about five or six holes where you plan to position the absorption field. A post hole digger works well for this job. Go down about 18 to 36 inches in depth, or to the depth of the drainage trenches. Use a bucket or a garden hose and fill each hole with water. Wait 24 hours, and then fill or remove water from the first hole so it about six inches of water in it. Insert a ruler and use a stop watch to time how many many minutes it takes for the water to lower by one inch. Now use this table to determine the minimum square feet of absorption field you'll need per bedroom you in your house.

  • 2 minutes or less equals 85 square feet (per bedroom)
  • 3 minutes equals 100 sq. ft.
  • 4 minutes equals 115 sq. ft.
  • 5 minutes equals 125 sq. ft.
  • 10 minutes equals 165 sq. ft.
  • 15 minutes equals 190 sq. ft.
  • 30 minutes equals 250 sq. ft.
  • 60 minutes equals 330 sq. ft.

This table is a rough estimate only. Remember that if your absorption field is too small, you'll need to have your septic system drained more often. You'll need to consult with a septic tank system expert to determine the exact size recommended for your house.

After you have town permission and work with a septic company to figure out the correct size of the absorption field, you're ready to transition to a septic system.