DIY Septic Tank Installation

Updated April 17, 2017

A septic system is a means of disposing sewage outside your home. If you live in a rural or suburban area, where centralised sewer treatment plants are unavailable, you will have to have your own septic tank to dispose of waste yourself. Installation of a septic can be a lot of work, but you can perform it yourself on your property if you follow certain rules and regulations.

Go to your city hall to read about your town's rules regarding septic tank installation and to obtain a construction permit for your upcoming job. Visit your local health department to obtain help in designing a sewage disposal system. A professional from the department may even offer to do a soil test on the leach field at your home. You will most likely have to fill out some forms regarding your site plan.

Create a septic system plan that determines where you will install the tank. Keep in mind that a septic tank should be installed at least 10 feet away from a house, while the leach field should be at least 20 feet away.

Post your construction permit in a prominent place. Measure for the placement of the septic tank. You may be allowed to do this yourself, but some areas require you to have a surveyor do it. You will then have an inspector visit your home to approve the placement. This individual may also perform the "perc test," which is the testing of the leach field to determine how long it takes for water to percolate in the soil.

Use a backhoe or excavator to dig a hole at least 3 or 4 feet deep and at least 1 foot wide. Lower the septic tank into the hole and surround the tank's bottom with rock or gravel to secure and level it.

Connect the home's plumbing system to the tank with PVC pipe. The length of your pipe will depend on the measurements of your property, but piping running from your house to the tank will typically slope slightly downhill to the tank. Check the piping for leaks to ensure the connection is tight. Go into your house and flush the toilet at least once to ensure there are no pipe leaks. An inspector will have to examine your installation at this point and approve it before you can conclude the job.

Fill up the hole consisting of the septic tank. Take care not to drop a large amount of dirt directly on top of the tank, as this can crush it. Carefully fill in the sides of the hole first, and tamp the dirt tightly into the ground and at the sides of the tank to prevent it from moving. All septic tanks have a hole, or hatch, on top, which is meant for easy access when it needs water or maintenance. Do not cover this portion of the tank.

Add water to the septic tank via the hatch at its top. Test out the system by using the bathroom.


If your septic tank is concrete, only a professional can install it. If you want to do the installation yourself, make sure you get a tank made of heavy plastic or some other material. Never use bleach, drain cleaner or harsh soaps in a septic system, as this kills bacteria, which is supposed to thrive in a septic tank to process waste. Don't grind up your sewage before sending it to the septic tank. The tank operates by digesting solids.

Things You'll Need

  • Septic system plan
  • Backhoe
  • Excavator
  • PVC pipe
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About the Author

Renee Gerber has over 14 years of editorial experience and is an editor for a sports website. She has published several articles on pro-wrestling at and other websites. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism at Baruch College in 2001 and is enrolled in a program to obtain a certificate in digital design.