Septic System Installation in Idaho

Choosing the right septic system for my property in Idaho

By: fitzgerald Comments: 0

So you want to move out of the big city, and finally build your dream home. But what kind of septic system can you install on your property?

 If you are one of the many prospective homeowners coming to Idaho, chances are you might be interested in building your own home, on your own piece of land.  After all, there are many advantages to going this route including privacy, larger lot sizes, epic views, and less traffic. Not everybody is looking for their piece of the suburban pie. Many individuals and families are more interested in getting at least a little bit off-grid, and seeing what life has to offer when it’s happening outside the city limits.

Wherever you decide to buy and build your American Dream, and regardless of the size or scope of the new dwelling, one thing is going to remain constant; where people are going to go, people are going to need to go, and so you’re going to need to build a septic system.


Septic system in Idaho

You may be building the custom home of your dreams, or plotting a flat spot just big enough for your pre-built cabin to squat on. But either way, you are going to have to contend with the realities of not being tied into a city’s water treatment and sewage system. Some of these realities will be pleasant, and some a bit more challenging, but what options are you going to be able to start considering before the first shovel of dirt goes around?

Who needs a Septic System?

There are many, many places still left in Idaho where city water treatment facilities are not available, and that’s just part of its appeal. In short, if the land you chose to build on is not served by the city, then you are going to need to build your own sewer system, and part of that system is your septic tank.

Chances are, if you aren’t getting water from the city, you aren’t going to be able to give water (sewage) to the city either. So now that you’ve identified that you need to consider non-municipal options, what are your best on-site sewer options?

Alternative, Traditional, and Out-Houses. 

Yes, outhouses are an option. But that doesn’t mean they are a good one! Recall that the modern septic system was born out of the desire to eliminate the necessity of having to leave the house in order to take care of business, so put the out-house, out of your mind, because there are better options.

So now let’s talk about your next (and first viable) option, the traditional septic system. The traditional septic system is a fairly common component of out of town living in Idaho, and has been for over 80 years. As communities build-out, homes that were once considered remote or rural are suddenly butting right up next to planned subdivisions, or elegant office buildings. If you’ve already established that you aren’t going to have access to city water, then you already know you’re going to be contacting a contractor experienced with septic system installation.

But if you are looking for something a little more elegant, or you are facing soil, space or grading issues, there are many alternatives to the traditional septic system. Also, more options are coming out all the time as homeowners become more environmentally conscientious and building sites decrease in availability. So what are some of these different types of systems, and how could they be a benefit to you?

Septic system install Idaho

Alternative Septic Systems. 

Mound Systems.

In areas where the water table might be too close to the surface, or where the soil isn’t conducive to proper drainage, homeowners may consider a mound type of septic system. A mound type in a sense takes all the action that we would attribute to the drain field portion of a traditional septic system, and moves it up above the level of the water table, or non-optimal soils. Examples of soils that can cause problems for traditional septic systems include those that are either impermeable, or too permeable, or if there’s a very shallow layer over porous bedrock.

Mound systems consist of a dosing tank (which meters how much and how often the effluent reaches the mound) and the mound itself, which is made up of different layers of sand, gravel and soil. With this system, the effluent can be treated to the point where then the soil layers below can do the rest of the job, without any negative impact on the environment.

Aerobic Systems.

Another alternative type of septic system is an aerobic system. This type of system introduces oxygen, so oxygen-loving, or aerobic bacteria and grow and flourish. Bacteria that love oxygen can process waste faster, and more efficiently, and they can be installed above or below ground. Aerobic systems are a good option if you don’t want to or can’t clear enough land to support a traditional septic system, but they are more costly to build and maintain. The oxygen injection system requires electricity and equipment, but with proper maintenance they can be a great upgrade to a traditional anaerobic system.

Lagoons and Cesspools.

The kind of lagoon we’re talking about here isn’t the kind you’d want to swim in, and the kind of cesspool we’re talking about has nothing to do with politics!

A lagoon is simply an open-air, above ground aerobic drain field, and a cesspool is just an outdated way of slowing things down and storing waste until you could figure out what else you wanted to do with it (hence, why they are not being built anymore).

In areas where the ground is impermeable, or on large acreages, lagoons have been the way to go but as our society becomes more complex and people start living closer and closer together, it will be fairly uncommon to see new lagoons built, if at all.

Cesspools are generally unsafe and ineffective, so unless they are “grandfathered” in, you won’t see them being built, almost anywhere anymore.

 Chamber Systems. 

Chamber systems, or gravelless chamber systems are an upgrade to the traditional septic system drain field. They are useful in areas where gravel isn’t readily available, is of poor quality, or in places where it would be too costly or cumbersome to transport it in. Gravelless chamber systems replace the gravel or rock usually associated with traditional drain fields with other materials (often recyclable) such as fabric or polystyrene, and also work well in areas where the water table is high, or where space may be a limiting factor.

Gravelless Chamber systems have been around for a while now, but they are becoming the go-to standard upgrade or replacement for either systems that have failed, or new construction. There are many different variations and options with chamber systems, so make sure you consult with a contractor who’s experienced with this type of excavation and installation.

Recirculating Sand Systems. 

 Yet another option you may want to consider is the recirculating sand system. The recirculating sand system works by distributing the effluent across a bed of sand, collecting the run-off, and then repeating the cycle until the clean water is discharged. These are a rather complicated and expensive alternative to maintain, but a good option if you have a high water table, or you are close to a body of water (rivers, lakes, oceans, etc).

Evapotranspiration Systems. 

As fun to say as they are to spell, evapotranspiration systems differ from the other systems mentioned in one important way: the effluent will never reach the ground, and it will never hit the groundwater. In effect, the evapotranspiration system is watertight, and the effluent evaporates into the air as opposed to being treated by microbial processes in the soil. This system works well in hot, arid climates, but will require more maintenance, permitting, and real estate to operate.

Drip Distribution Systems.

Drip distribution systems work great in areas where a mound system would be required, but without the mound being needed. The drawbacks of this type of system includes the complexity, real estate, and the dosing system needed to make sure that the drip system can work optimally.

Cluster or Community System.

Not all subdivisions are within city limits! In fact rural planned communities are growing in popularity! If you are interested in building in a subdivision that isn’t connected to city water, a cluster or community system may be a good option to be aware of. Each rural subdivision home will have their own septic tank, but share a common drain field and or dosing tank, that can be comprised of a traditional gravel system, drip distribution, chamber, or some other option.

Constructed Wetland System. 

A final exotic option to explore is the constructed wetland system, which pays homage to the original water treatment system; nature. Constructed wetland systems mimic natural wetland systems by creating a basin in which microbes, plants and other organic media go to work and break down and treat the effluent. These systems can function either as a pressurized system, or gravity flow, and the next step of treatment can go beyond the wetland, or take place in the drain field. 

Choosing the right Septic System for your Property in Idaho. 

As you can see, you have a lot of options when it comes to excavating and installing a septic system in Idaho. Your choice will depend on weighing a bunch of different factors like location, acreage, soil condition and type, groundwater level, price and more. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of system, and only a professional can complete the assessment and provide you with the proper consult to get the job done correctly, the first time.

If you’re building a house in Idaho, and you have questions about having a septic system installed on your property, give us a call  (208) 340-4691 or fill out the form below to request a quote.

Septic System Install Eagle, Idaho
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