Alternative Septic Systems For Difficult Sites & Soil Types

So, what’s an alternative septic solution?

As the name suggests, an alternative septic system refers to a non-traditional style septic system. This is usually preferred when the soil and site conditions of your property do not allow regular processing of wastewater.

Regular septic systems are known to serve a lot of homeowners based on favorable conditions around such areas.

Soil condition is an important aspect that needs to be assessed before a location is deemed fit to install a septic system. Percolation tests are carried out to determine its suitability.

If the test results for soil percolation tests prove negative, it means the regular septic system won’t serve. Under such circumstances, an alternative septic system is advised.

What Conditions Are Alternative Septic Systems Best For?

Before an alternative septic system is recommended for your property, such an area must be determined to be environmentally sensitive. In other words, the area is deemed unfit for processing septic waste.

Basically, it has to do with the protection of water sources.

Contamination of water sources poses a significant challenge, thus the need to have a safer alternative system. This doesn’t follow the traditional design you’re used to.

Luckily, there are several alternative septic systems to consider. We’ll be providing you a list of these shortly.

Traditional Septic Systems Won’t Do well in these Conditions

As noted earlier, an alternative septic system would normally be considered in the absence of certain conditions.

Such conditions do not favor the installation of traditional septic systems. For example, waterfront properties won’t be suitable for conventional or traditional septic systems.

Other adverse conditions for traditional septic systems include a shallow soil or hardpan as well as one which is too dense. Every detail on soil condition is provided after a successful analysis or assessment.

Only then is it determined if a soil type is suitable for traditional septic systems or not.

Types OF Alternative Septic Systems

This is the part where we delve into details regarding the multiple alternative septic systems you can choose from.

There are several of these that will perfectly serve your needs. In other words, these alternative systems will effectively treat waste without issues.

Examples of these alternative systems include aerobic septic systems, constructed wetlands, sand filters, mound septic systems, drip distribution systems, and plastic leach field chambers.

Let’s take a look at each of these alternative septic systems for different soil types and difficult terrains.

Aero septic systems also go by the name aerobic treatment units (ATUs). These are mostly designed to serve small household units. This system requires the presence of aerobic bacteria to break down waste.

For this to be possible, oxygen needs to be supplied to encourage bacterial presence.

Such oxygen is supplied through a pump that works continuously to ensure there’s a sufficient supply. This creates a favorable condition for bacteria to thrive and quickly digest waste.

Aerobic systems have different components; the clarifier that separates solids, an aeration chamber, a holding chamber, and a chlorinator for disinfection

  • Constructed Wetlands System

This is another type of alternative septic system that’s designed to mimic or recreate wastewater treatment procedures that occur in natural wetlands.

This includes a cell or basin that holds bacteria in addition to plants that all combine to process or treat effluent.

A constructed wetland system has a cell that is made of an earthen basin. This earthen basin is lined with concrete, PVC, native clay, bentonite clay, and several other constituents.

Plants grown in the wetland system can either be had or soft tissue plants. These encourage the penetration of oxygen.

  • Sand Filter Septic Systems

In your bid to choose a preferred alternative septic system, one of the options you could consider is the sand filter system. This system can be installed above or below ground.

Here, wastewater coming from the septic tank enters into a pump chamber.

From this chamber, such effluent is pumped to the sand filter which could be made of a concrete box containing sand or PVC-lined. Pipes found at the top of the filter deliver wastewater at low pressure from the pump.

This is then filtered through the sand. Treated wastewater is then released to the leach field.

  • Mound Septic Systems

If none of the above alternative septic systems seems to fit your needs, a mound system could perfectly fit your requirements. This alternative septic system makes use of two tanks.

The first tank is used for settling solids while the second has an attached pump that transfers effluent to the mound.

The effluent delivery system found on the mound consists of a small pipe perforated pipe. When the effluent comes at high pressure, it gets evenly distributed throughout the mound.

This alternative septic system is about the oldest when compared with the others.

  • Drip Distribution System

One good thing with alternative septic systems is options.

When one doesn’t fit your needs, you look to others that are considered more favorable to your needs. The drip distribution system is designed to pump pretreated wastewater to a soil treatment site.

At the soil treatment site, the pretreated effluent is allowed to drip out slowly into a large vegetative area. This delivers both moistures as well as nutrients to plants.

Only environments having vegetative topsoil are considered ideal for drip distribution systems.

With the slow delivery of untreated water, sewage is better treated as it hardly joins or mixes with groundwater before completing filtration.

This system consists of four main parts; a pretreatment device, a pump tank, the distribution system as well as a filtering or flushing device.

  • Plastic Leach Field Chamber

If you’re seeking to save cost while getting a reliable alternative septic system, a plastic leach field chamber will be best suited to your needs. This alternative septic system is built for strength and performance.

When it comes to long-term reliability, ease of installation and superior efficiency, this category of alternative septic systems comes tops. Its efficiency is largely tied to its reliability.

However, your final decision depends on whether it fits your need or not.

We’ve been discussing alternative septic systems for lands that won’t perk. This article highlights some of the most popular systems you can opt for over traditional septic systems.

1 thought on “Alternative Septic Systems For Difficult Sites & Soil Types”

  1. Thanks for discussing different types of septic systems such as the sand filter type which can’t be built on top of the ground or below it. I would see how this system can be an option for those who have limited excavation space. I hope a good contractor would know the best system depending on the location.


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