One of the most important inventions to the human race was indoor plumbing. In the United States, it is a requirement that all homes have access to running water. Homes that don't risk being deemed uninhabitable. This means that every house needs both water and sewer access. To get it, you either have to have water delivered by a well and removed via a septic system or through your municipality's water and sewer systems.
Wells and Septic Systems
In some cases, homeowners have a choice between city water and sewer or digging their own well and septic system. When you first choose to dig a well, there are a few things that you should be aware of. While you won't have to pay for water and sewer any longer, you'll have expenses that come along with the digging, installation and upkeep of your well and septic system.
Before you begin digging your well, you should consider the costs of digging and installing the system. In some instances, you'll have to pay for the well, the septic tank, installation and even inspection fees. You'll also need to verify that you have the space required on your property for a well or septic system. To do that, you may be able to ask a contractor or inspector to evaluate your property.
Septic Tank Cost
The most common type of septic system is the tank/absorption system. This sort of system works with gravity and the surrounding soil to provide waste removal. Once the waste has arrived in your septic tank, it separates into sludge, scum and water. Clean water is piped out of the septic tank. The size of the tank system you need is entirely dependent on the size of your home and family.
Septic tank systems can be difficult to install depending on the size. An eight-person family, for example, would need a much more robust tank system than a couple of people living in a small home. These tanks all must move biodegradable waste to break it down. As such, installing a septic tank system can be a great deal of work. If you doubt that you'll be able to complete such a project, your best bet is to hire a professional installation team.
Depending on where you live, the cost to fully install your septic tank system can vary widely. The average cost nationally can, therefore, cost much more or less. The typical home in the United States is a three-bedroom one. In optimal conditions of good soil, level site and favorable weather, the cost for a new septic tank installation could be anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 or more.
Cost of a Combined System
When you're calculating how much money your well and septic system will cost, you must think about the individual components of the project. The most obvious of these parts is the septic tank itself. These tanks are typically made of concrete, though they can also be manufactured from polyethylene, steel or fiberglass. A decent-sized tank for a typical family home should be able to contain 1,000 gallons. That tank can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000.
Another cost that you should consider in your septic system is the method of drainage you'll use. The most common type of drain is made of gravel formed into trenches. Typically, this type of absorption field is comprised of 36-inch-wide trenches. Those trenches contain around 10 to 12 inches of gravel installed up to 36 inches deep into the soil. Once the trenches are in place, a perforated section of pipe will help with the even distribution of water. Gravel itself costs around $12 to $30 for a single ton.
Lifespan of a Well
The costs for a well vary a great deal from place to place. The lifetime of the well also varies depending on a variety of factors, including geographic location, groundwater conditions, water table conditions, seasonal changes and the type of well you're considering. A professional can evaluate these factors and help you make your decision. In addition, they can speak to the cost to dig a well given your circumstances, which you should consider before moving forward.
Well and Septic Installation Process
The very first step for getting your well and septic system installed is typically to obtain a permit from your municipality. You may also have to get approval from a homeowners association, neighbors who would be impacted or other entities. Depending on where you live, your permit could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars on its own.
Next, you'll have to get your soil tested for its drainage capabilities. For this part of your project, expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $400. An understanding of your soil composition is imperative if you want to ensure that your well doesn't need to be later removed and replaced before its time. After you have a good understanding of your soil, you'll know where to put the well and septic system.
Then, you'll be able to ask a contractor to draft up appropriate plans for your septic system. If you're comfortable doing so yourself, there's no legal reason why you can't. Unless you're extremely certain of the process, however, it's best that you have a contractor handle these plans. If your system isn't installed correctly, you'll have to deal with much more costly remediation on your property.
Digging the System
From there, all that's left is for you to dig and install the septic system. If you're choosing to do it yourself, the cost will be for equipment and tool rental and can vary significantly, making an accurate estimate impossible. The cost to hire a professional to design and install your system can run from $1,500 to $4,000.
It's also good to note that there are some installers of septic systems that will do all the permitting work for you and handle the installation. This is an excellent way to minimize time and stress during the project. When you're looking for professionals, ask around to see if any of these such installers are in your area.
DIY Septic Tank Installation
If you're choosing to install your septic system yourself, you should first know that you'll need specific equipment to handle the task. Because the average size of a septic tank is 1,000 gallons, the best way to install a septic system is to own or rent a backhoe as a first step. You'll also need specific piping, fittings, sealant and the system itself.
Once you have all your equipment, permits and location ironed out, you must dig the hole for your septic tank. There are very specific methods of measuring using a laser transit that you should make sure you understand beforehand. Once you have everything measured out, you should be able to dig your hole to the correct depth.
While installing your tank, ensure you have positive flow from the tank to the drain field. The next step is to install your gravel trenches and pipes. From there, you can install your tank system. Be careful to avoid any cracking or other damage to your tank.
Before you finish and cover your septic system, it's important to contact an inspector who can ensure your system is up to code and installed correctly. Once that's confirmed, cover your unit in dirt and landscape around it. Note that the ground directly above the tank may not grow plants the way your other soil does. This is fairly common and not a sign that something is wrong.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.