I realize that there could be a lot of variables in what the cost would be
of having a mound septic system installed. But I'd like to ask for some
generalizations if I may to gain some information.
I have a three bedroom house on a 3/4 acre lot, the ground is flat and
filled with clay so the builder installed leach system doesn't work well due
to lack of the ability of the soil to absorb the water. The house is about
30 years old.
I'd like to ask those who have either installed or had installed a mound
system what I could expect an approximate cost to be? Also what could I do
to help reduce the costs? I'm capable of trenching, running PVC etc.
Also is there a better alternative than a mound system?
I don't believe that is true from every report on septic drain field
operation I've ever seen. You have a reference indicating
differently? (If it were so, the importance of perc tests would be
almost eliminated it seems.)
is pretty typical discussion of what I see/read at all extension or
public health sites on requirements for drain/leach fields.
To OP, I have seen some recent claims that adding aeration to anerobic
septic fields has the possibility of improving operation of existing
drain fields which have become saturated but other than vendor claims
I've seen nothing actually done/published (but then again, I've not
really looked that hard, either). At least one of these vendors
promises money back if their system doesn't work so if they're
legitimate business-wise, guess one could always look into whether it
would do its magic for you. But as the link mentions, about the worst
type of soil there is for long-term drain fields is heavy clay.
If it were me, I'd talk to local county/municipal health, whoever is
in charge. Typically they have pretty good handle on what the
situation is locally as it really is very dependent on local soils,
precipitation patterns, usage, etc., as to what is the underlying
problem and an appropriate solution. Some places even have cost-
sharing for such problems although often they'll be limited to long-
standing problems rather than new, but "you never know until you ask."
That's simply based on the size of the house--bedrooms/baths being a
convenient counting measure to roughly figure average occupancy and
therefrom, estimate waste water usage. The size will be determined by
either local or state code depending on the actual location who's in
Some places will let you get away w/ a separate french drain or
secondary field for the "gray water", reserving the septic tank for
only the "black water", but that's getting to be less and less
common. Even in a TN county when sold the house, was required to
reconnect the washing machine back to the main septic system. By
then, we were in the same position of the kids had grown and the
system was able to cope. Of course, we had also installed a second
field and were able to do the switchover thing but we never were
forced to do so. Down the road, if somebody else w/ a young family
again buys the place, they will undoubtedly reap the benefits... :)
As somebody else noted, get in touch w/ the locals -- they'll be on
top of the situation for your local soil conditions and site. You're
certainly not going to be the only person who's having trouble. In
another response I noted as did someone else the aerobic systems that
are supposed to be able to help cleanup an existing drain field if the
problem is one of clogging of perforations in the drain tile. Whether
is so or not, I don't know...if the breakthrough is at one end or the
other of the field, could be indicative of the problem being of that
nature. If the whole field is saturated, don't think there's a
In TN, the contractor who installed the initial field didn't get it
level so all the water went into one half of it so effectively it was
only half as large as it was supposed to have been from the git-go.
If it had been larger, and utilized the whole field, ti might have
sufficed. But, the soil there is pretty heavy clay as well so similar
problems were/are rampant throught the whole region.
It's been over 30 years since I had a 2nd field installed at ~$1,000.
It uses the same tank and goes to a junction box where fields are
easily switched as they are both gravity fed. Both are evaporation
fields but on 2nd one, perk was better. Even then, 2nd field came up
and I had to switch back to first after several years.
You are lucky that your system has lasted this long. One contractor
explained to me that they do not perk as well over the years due to
salt build-up and need a couple of years of rain water draining
through them to restore them. With a 2nd switchable field, you should
never have to worry about septic again.
The minimum size requirements for a field have changed substantially over the
years. I don't think you will get a legal replacement field installed for $1000
Two fields with a switch is great, if you can afford it and if there's room on
the lot for two fields.
Salt? The amount of salt in effluent, even with a water softener is
insignificant. What happens to a field is that it plugs up with the natural
floating stuff that doesn't settle out in a tank. I'd be surprised to see rain
soaking through a field dealing with that, but maybe.
I'd guess you'd be talking $10,000 to $20,000 to build one from
scratch. You might be able to just add a lift-pump and put in a new
bad and keep the tank. That might help. You might also check into an
aerobic system and if you have another way to dispose of the effluent,
such as a road-side culvert (if allowed by law in your area).
If your county has a health department, check with them. They might
have a good idea of what is required and what it will cost.
Otherwise, you'll have to check with a site engineer.
If you can handle the semi-heavy equipment, you might be able to do it
yourself; but you have a lot of dirt to move and rock/sand to
distribute. It's not rocket science, but it's not a piece of cake,
All states are different, but here in NY all septic systems are
required to have stamped plans.
Good luck with it.
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