Septic Tanks & How to Choose the Right One for You

By: fitzgerald Comments: 0

So Many Choices…So Many Decisions, but We’re Here to Help

Septic-Tank-Above-GroundSeptic tanks may not be great conversation starters for dinner parties and social gatherings, but they are undeniably an important part of a home or business. Knowing how septic tanks work and how to make a decision about which one is right for you is an important undertaking as well. We have compiled the basics to get your project off to the right start.

A septic system consists of two basic parts: a septic tank and an underground drain field, also called a disposal field, leach field or soil absorption field. Wastewater flows from the house to the tank, and effluent water, or wastewater, flows from the tank to the drain field. The main job of the tank is to intercept the solids. The drain field primarily is used to purify and disperse the wastewater. Once in the drain field, the soil filters and purifies the effluent before returning it to the water table, where it is distributed through the ground to be absorbed by plants. While this system is simple, there are many variations of this basic septic design. Each system is uniquely determined by how much water the house will be using, how strong the waste will be, the composition of the soil, the location of the groundwater table, and the size of the property.

The first decision that needs to be made for your septic system is the tank size. Residential septic tanks can range in size from 50 to 3,000 gallons, with the average tank holding about 1,000 gallons. The size of the septic tank you need depends on the number of bedrooms in the home, number of people living there, the home’s square footage and whether or not water saving fixtures are used. Some other factors you may want to keep in mind are: Will you have a Jacuzzi tub or garbage disposal? What are your cleaning habits? Do you entertain frequently?

Your answers to these questions and others will help determine the best tank size for your system. You can use this chart to find the average size you may need for your home:


# of Bedrooms Homes Square Footage Tank Capacity
1 to 2 Less than 1,500 750
3 Less than 2,500 1,000
4 Less than 3,500 1,250
5 Less than 4,500 1,250
6 Less than 5,500 1,315


Measuring-Hole-Septic-005The next item to consider is how to configure your system. Septic tanks come in all different shapes and sizes: tall or short, narrow or wide, and one or two compartments. Each tank configuration has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your property or circumstances.

Finally, you will need to decide on the material of your septic tank. They can be made from steel, concrete, fiberglass, low-density plastic or high-density plastic. Because steel is prone to rust, and low-density plastic can easily warp and change shape over time, we do not recommend tanks made from these materials. Concrete tanks are a popular alternative due to their relatively low cost and long-lasting durability. Concrete tanks are normally placed a few feet below ground, and their weight may make them unsuitable for some sites. Fiberglass is an excellent choice; however, it has a relatively high price so many homeowners ultimately go with another option. High-density plastic tanks are lightweight, with optimum dimensions for performance, and are unmatched in structural integrity. Manufacturers of this product often offer a 50-year warranty, which is much longer than any of the other alternatives.

Lifting-Septic-Tank-with-Excavator-005If you are interested in installing a septic tank, consider Fitzgerald Mechanical to do the job. With friendly and experienced staff, we are happy to answer all your questions, and to work with you to find the best system to fit your needs, your property configuration, and your budget.

Call us today at (208) 340-4691 or send us a note!

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