3 Steps to a Septic System Installation Plan

Septic systems need to be installed in homes that are in areas outside of a municipal system. To make sure this is done without any problems, it’s important to plan every step of the way.

Step 1: Consider the tank size.

This step is usually easy because the PA health department determines size requirements. In Pennsylvania, the minimum liquid septic tank capacity for any installation is 900 gallons. The Pennsylvania CODE provides a table on their website to determine tank capacity, which depends on gallons of sewage flow per day.

Gallons per day Tank capacity (gallons)
0-500 3.5 x flow exceeding 400 gpd + 900
500-5,000 1.5 x flow exceeding 500 gpd + 1,250
5,000 – 7,500 1.45 x flow exceeding 5,000 gpd + 8,000
7,500 – 10,000 1.35 x flow exceeding 7,500 gpd + 11,625
over 10,000 1.50 x the daily flow

You can typically calculate the home’s estimate water usage by the number of bedrooms or people living in the home.

Step 2: Perform a percolation test

A percolation test will test the ability of the soil to absorb water. It involves digging a test hole and recording the needed time for water to be absorbed into the soil. The results will be used to identify the field line amount needed for the septic system.

If the absorption rate is slow, the require field line amount should be larger to install the system.

Step 3: Measure and plan the system layout

Now that you know the size of your tank and the field line amount of the system, the next step is to ensure the requirements are right for the property. Check that:

  • The septic tank sits at least 10 feet from the home’s foundation.
  • Field lines are located in a level area.
  • Field lines are away from shrubs, large trees, and heavy vehicle traffic.
  • If field lines are separated, they are at least 6 feet apart from each other.

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