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Old 11/30/10, 08:17 PM
This is my life
Join Date: May 2007
Location: SC
Posts: 3,788
homemade septic?

Is it even possible to put a septic in yourself?
We have a small shed, with running water and power but nothing else. If we wanted to add a toilet, without connecting to our septic system, could we? (long way away from our septic)

I know we could use a composting bucket, but wonder about options.

It would only have a toilet on it, no gray water. Would only be used a few times a week.

So, say the code dept never heard about would you do it?
Life is uncertain, eat dessert first
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Old 11/30/10, 09:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Southren Nova Scotia
Posts: 626
My husband could have built a septic system but municipal by-laws prevent doing so. A long time ago people used barrels buried in the ground as did a neighbor here. Later owners of the house discovered this when sewage backed up in the basement. There were also no field beds and run off went into a brook that crosses our property. The brook on the neighbors side of the road had a high ecoli count. On our side we planted cat tails, water lilies and natural grasses to filter the water since our animals drink it.

Environment people got involved and the house owner had to install a proper septic and field beds. Modern living with washers, dish washers, showers, high volume toilets need modern sewage systems to protect the environment. Ofcourse like all laws they go too far and outhouses are no longer allowed here. A septic tank and field beds can cost upwards of $15,000 now by the time permits are acquired, an engineer draws up a plan and a licensed professional does the work! We were fortunate that a septic was already installed before we came here and we just made repairs. It helped having two brother-in-laws in the backhoe business too!

Last edited by lmrose; 11/30/10 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 11/30/10, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: SE tennessee
Posts: 1,737
We lived in a house a few years ago where the septic system was made of 2 large concrete tiles buried vertically and connected..the drain line was just a long run of pipe out into the field.A feedlot where I worked had a septic tank of bricks with boards over the top and a long leach line.
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Old 11/30/10, 09:11 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 9,226
My father installed the septic system at the ranch (years ago, obviously). There were no regulations in place at the time and actually I don't think there are now. He had a neighbor dig a big hole, "down grade" from the house, filled it with big rocks, ran leach lines out, then put in the sewer lines.

They never had any problem with it at all in the years they lived there, never had to have it pumped or anything like that and they were there about 30 years after it was put in.

If it's done right, there isn't a problem. The issue is living where there are county or state regulations/inspections.

It's strange here in this area of KY. Rural, but if you buy acreage and want to put up a house, you can't get an electric line in to where you are building until you have perk tests done, then a septic system put in, inspected and approved. Only THEN will the electric company run poles in for electric.
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Old 11/30/10, 09:25 PM
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Naturally Twirly
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: far north Idaho
Posts: 14,422
My husband has installed two of our septic systems. Rented a backhoe and went to town. The one in Coconino Co, AZ was a nightmare to get approved. Turned out the inspector's husband was a septic contractor. Noce, huh? But we persevered and got it through.
Here in problem.

Apparently, people used to use junked cars as septic tanks here years ago. No idea how that works.
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Old 11/30/10, 09:28 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Far West in the White Mountains, Arizona
Posts: 2,644
I believwe what you all are describing is a cesspit, or cesspool.
Mess with me? I may let karma take care of it. Mess with my family? I become Karma.
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Old 11/30/10, 09:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 11,515
They are not that expensive I had one put in for $800 total but their were no inspections and the back hoe guy was doing another project for Me. That was a 800 gallons tank and 100 feet of field lines.
God must have loved stupid people because he made so many of them.
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Old 11/30/10, 09:54 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 7,883
Would a sawdust toilet make any sense . . .??

Then it would be a easy to dig small disposal hole
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Old 11/30/10, 09:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,069
Septics, like you described, were commonly done with barrels and pipe before there was much in the way of regulations. I don't know if any of the old Foxfire books, or some other source would have clear directions, but this is something that could be done on a small, low cost, scale. Assuming, of course, that you are using the system lightly as you describe, and also that the whole affair stays out of the eyes and ears of local bureaucrats. BTW, you want to use something called a "Studor" vent to vent the system. This is a vent that does not need to go through the roof. It will allow air into the pipe for a proper flush, but not allow sewer gas out. Very important if you want to avoid questions about why you have plumbing vents on a distant outbuilding?
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Old 11/30/10, 10:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 692
I built an outhouse for emergency use during storms and such. It has never been used yet but its there if needed.
For your occasional use. I'd dig down and plant a plastic 50 gallon barrel. Drill side holes near the bottom. Build a wood set on top with a toilet seat. Pour in a bag of yard lime and use as needed. It would be years before it was full.

If you want to install a full toilet you can. Simply get a do it yourself book and follow instructions. I'd put the piping in and pour a concrete slab to mount the toilet on, run it out to a buried tank that connects to a leach line. Pretty simple.
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Old 11/30/10, 10:33 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: IL, right smack dab in the middle
Posts: 6,787
Well some people would just run the pipe out of the toilet and over the hill,
If your a bit more fastidious or in a more open veiwable area ya might wanna bury a plastic 55 gallon drum somewhere in the line.
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Old 11/30/10, 10:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: MN
Posts: 8,107
Septic system is just a pipe out of the building at a very gentle slope so that the stuff floats along with the water pushing it.

Then a tank for the little fellas to work & eat up most of the stuff, creating a layer of grit & undigetable stuff on the bottom, a layer of grease floating on top, and the middle is the liquid and working microbs.

There is another tube out the other side a tiny bit lower than the one in to let the treated water to flow out, set up so the grease can't float out through it with a tee on it, and over to a leach line which is a long tube with holes in it to let the water filter back into the ground.

The hard part is finding ground that perks right, so the water will absorb into it, but not solid sand with a high water table so the water gets too close to the water table too quickly. And deciding how long that tube with the holes needs to be to fit the application. If you know what you have for this and the dirt is the right kind of dirt & the water table is several feet down all the time, you'd be good to go. (Well - there was an unintentional play on words!)

For your uses in an unregulated area, if you follow those simple rules you wouldn't create any difficulties for anyone setting that up. But alas, people never follow simple rules and so the heavy regulation to save us from ourselves....

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Old 11/30/10, 10:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: W. Oregon
Posts: 10,073
That is all I have for the little cabin, all there is is a toilet all off grid. A 55 gallon plastic drum, an elbow and 40' of perforated pipe. The turn down and a short piece of pipe to get outlet half way down the inside of the barrel. I am under 400 sq ft. No need for a permit. I had one like this at another property and for 26 years no problem. It was for my shop at the farm. Here at this cabin I have the same, all the grey water goes into a tank to be reused. It also has an outlet for overflow into the bio swale....James
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Old 12/01/10, 08:23 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Ontario
Posts: 13,056
Lots of reasons for regulations. If your water table is high and you dig in a septic system it either won't work or worse it might work and you contaminate your drinking water. I know the regulator here is a bit out of control ordering people to use things like peat systems when down the street they're installing a filtre media system....... because they want a certain number of peat systems to evaluate over the next 10 years to see if they work well here! I think they should play with their own money!
I know out houses were common years ago, but so was disease and early deaths. We built eh systems here to the specified design and they were inspected and passed no problem, and I worked with a small company that installed systems; I never felt the cost or inspection process was all that onerous and it certainly adds to the property value where a non-inspected system could be a liability in some parts.
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Old 12/01/10, 09:02 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: West Central Texas
Posts: 6,389
I put in a septic system for a cabin about 15 years ago. A friend with a backhoe dug the hole and trench "as a favor" (I paid him double for another project he was doing so he couldn't be cited for putting in a septic without a license), we used a 100 gallon plastic tank another friend had and 50" of drainage line. Just the toilet drained into it. As far as I know it's still working just fine.

In this county, you can put in your own but must have it inspected before anything is filled back in. A friend did one (double tank per regs). Had no problem with the inspection. I think it all depends where you live.
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Old 12/01/10, 10:32 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: northcentral MN
Posts: 14,962
You can install your own here but it has to be inspected before it's buried.

I paid to have mine installed and the total came to $4,200. That included a triple chamber tank ($2.500+), 150+' of pipe, pump, and 2" of blue foam for over the tank and inlet pipe.

If you are only going to use it a few times I would just build an outhouse or a sawdust toilet. They actually work pretty well because there isn't much water to move the phosphorus.
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Old 12/01/10, 10:36 AM
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Location: Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
Posts: 14,588
Originally Posted by fishhead View Post
You can install your own here but it has to be inspected before it's buried.....
And, it has to be designed by a licensed on-site septic professional. But, "yes" a homeowner is allowed to install the system without a license.
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Old 12/01/10, 11:32 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: EastTN: Former State of Franklin
Posts: 5,380
They aren't hard to put in.

The one for my shop is a 500gal concrete tank w/100' of field line I installed for the mobile home we put here originally while building the house. I put the smallest system I could in, because I knew we would only be using it a year. Now I use that system for my shop toilet, one hand sink.....gets used 'maybe' twice/week. My guess it will way outlast me.

All you need is a small tank, as others have noted, a 55gal plastic barrel or two will do fine, or look around for a building supply place that sell plastic septic tanks, and 50-100' of field line. The trick on field lines is to get the trench bottom LEVEL so water doesn't run to one end and "pop" out.

Yes, most likely there ARE regulations that require you jump thru hoops.....I will leave that decision to you.
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Old 12/01/10, 04:26 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,623
Septic systems are playing with dangerous bacteria and your sub-surface water. For your own safety and that of your neighbours, they should be designed and installed properly, even if there isn't a requirement to have them inspected. For something that's lightly used by only one or two people, with males able to step outside to dispose of liquid wastes, a sawdust or humanure or composting toilet system would be adequate, cheap, no fuss, no unapproved permanent installations waiting like landmines to blow up future sales or title transfers.
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Old 12/01/10, 08:54 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,069
Originally Posted by wogglebug View Post
Septic systems are playing with dangerous bacteria and your sub-surface water. For your own safety and that of your neighbours, they should be designed and installed properly, even if there isn't a requirement to have them inspected. For something that's lightly used by only one or two people, with males able to step outside to dispose of liquid wastes, a sawdust or humanure or composting toilet system would be adequate, cheap, no fuss, no unapproved permanent installations waiting like landmines to blow up future sales or title transfers.
Sorry, but a little heavy on the drama for me. The OP was clear that they wanted advice on a very low usage system for one toilet. By your logic we should also be concerned with the untold millions of pounds of deer and squirrel poop out there too? I simply fail to see how a well designed and installed minimalist septic system is a "waiting landmine". As for future sales, not an issue. It takes good old rural common sense to know that you remove the grey water system, the backfed emergency generator, and anything else that would give a home inspector chest pains BEFORE you list the place. I can't see squatting over a drywall bucket full of sawdust when you have the ability to do better in life?
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