Mound Septic Systems: An Alternative Septic System

Mound septic systems are an alternative to a traditional septic system, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to this system type. A traditional system involves tanks and pipes which are laid under the ground and connected to your home, but sometimes this type of system will not work because of a high water table, poor soil absorption, or shallow soil that covers rock or clay.

If your property fails a perk test then a mound septic system may be an alternative which will still allow you to build on the land. This option can be less expensive than having a system designed and custom engineered just for your specific property, because many septic installation specialists are familiar with the mound system and how it works.

A mound system will ensure that the wastewater from your home is properly filtered and cleaned before any moisture can reach the water table, which will prevent any groundwater contamination. Some land areas will not allow a traditional septic system for various reasons, and if this happens then an alternative system must be used to be in compliance with the building regulations and health codes.

Mound septic systems are a frequent choice if an alternative system is required, because of the number of advantages that this system type can offer. These systems may be more expensive than a traditional one though, and may have different maintenance requirements as well.

What Are Mound Septic Systems?

Mound systems first originated in North Dakota in the middle of the nineteenth century, and these systems were initially called NODAK systems because they were named after the state where the system started. Over time this type of system started being used in other states as well, and today it is one choice available across the USA if a traditional system is not an option.

A mound system includes several components, and these include the mound itself, the septic tank, and the dosing tank or chamber. The mound is used to increase the amount of soil that the wastewater must filter through, and this ensures that adequate purification is allowed before the groundwater is reached.

In some areas the water table is too high for a traditional system, or the water absorption may occur either too quickly or too slow, and mound septic systems can eliminate these problems. The mound contains soil, sand, and other filters, and wastewater is pumped to the top of the mound and then released.

A mound septic system adds additional filtration to the waste that your home creates, so that the effluent is properly cleaned before joining the water table. The mound is needed so that there is at least three feet of filtering material that the effluent must pass through, otherwise contaminants and toxins may not be completely removed from the effluent.

The mound of this type of system is covered with vegetation, and this also helps the system operate efficiently. The plants and vegetation on the mound allow for evaporation, which also helps filter the effluent completely.

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The Advantages Of A Mound System

There are several advantages to a mound system, and this type of system is commonly installed in all areas of the country. These advantages include:

  • A mound system can handle a larger effluent amount without requiring more area, so they can be ideal for almost every home

  • A mound septic system will work in areas where there is a high water table, and where traditional system types will typically fail

  • This type of system will work well no matter what your soil absorption level is, making it possible to build even if your property can not pass the required tests for a traditional septic system

  • The amount of space needed for installation is usually smaller for mound septic systems, so they will work well even on smaller lots in some areas

  • This system is usually much less expensive than having a unique and custom engineered system developed

  • Less land is normally required for a replacement system, so it is easier to meet the building codes and health department regulations concerning a backup replacement field in the event the main system fails

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The Disadvantages Of A Mound System

  • A mound septic system can be more expensive to purchase and install

  • Extra materials must be shipped to your location, so that the mound can be built up

  • An additional tank or chamber must be installed

  • A mound system requires extra components and equipment which must be maintained

  • Pumps are required to pump the effluent to the top of the mound

  • The mound used in mound septic systems should be placed on flat land. If a slope is present this can cause some effluent runoff during times of high discharge

  • The mound may be unsightly if steps are not taken to help cover this feature with landscaping. This means planning ahead so the mound fits in naturally with your yard

  • One big drawback with a mound system is that this type can experience more problems, and may need repairs more often

  • Because a mound septic system is not gravity fed you can experience backups and other issues if any of the system components fail

  • Installing this type of system is more labor intensive, and that means higher labor costs and a longer installation time as well as higher material costs

  • Caution must be used not to damage the soil that is available, because it is in limited amounts

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Typical Installation Costs For A Mound System

A mound system will typically cost more to install than a traditional system, and the average cost for this system type can range from $9,000 up to $25,000, and in some situations the cost can be even higher. That is one reason why this type of system is not used if a less expensive traditional system is an option.

There are a lot of additional costs involved in a mound system that a traditional system does not include. Pumps are required so that the effluent can be moved up the mound, and a dosing tank is needed to release the effluent to be pumped.

A mound septic system installation will require a lot of manual labor, to prevent heavy equipment from destroying the soil in the area, and this means the cost will increase due to this factor. The layout of your system will determine exactly how much work will need to be done, because a straight system with a single pipe will require less labor than an H shaped design for the pipe layout.

The cost of mound septic systems will also depend on the state where the system will be placed, because different states have different health and building requirements due to soil and geographical differences in regions. Some states may not require the same types of tests or have the same installation permit qualifications.

The best way to keep the costs of a mound septic system as low as possible is to make sure that your soil is properly tested and evaluated, and that the ideal location has been chosen. You should also make sure that you have chosen a replacement location carefully, because this type of system can fail and if that happens you will need to replace the failing system with a new one.

The contractor that you choose to install a mound system will also affect the cost of this project, because each contractor will have a specific price that can vary by a significant amount. In addition to the cost you should also examine the reputation and experience offered by each contractor, so you get quality results while keeping the costs down.

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Mound Systems For Small Homes

Choosing mound septic systems for a smaller home makes sense for many reasons if you can not use a traditional system. This type requires less land for the installation, so even smaller properties can be ideal for this system.

If you own a small home and can not use the typical septic system then a mound system can be designed which will handle all of the wastewater needs from your home. The smaller area requirement will offer more of your property for other purposes.

A mound septic system can be landscaped so that it is not visually distracting, and with some planning the mound can be included in the natural beauty of the property. Smaller homes do not produce as much waste in many cases, and this system can handle a smaller amount of sewage and effluent just as effectively as a larger amount.

All types of septic systems may experience problems if they are not used on a regular basis, because the bacteria and other organisms used to break down solid wastes and keep the temperature in the system above freezing. A traditional system may freeze because of the low activity during colder weather, but a mound system designed for a smaller home will be designed to handle lower amounts of waste and sewage.

Smaller homes all across the country that are not hooked up to a municipal sewage system may use mound septic systems when the soil or water table level makes the usual system unacceptable. These systems offer the benefit of being able to handle even large amounts of effluent, so if your water usage increases for any reason the system can still handle the discharge amount.

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Mound Systems For Large Homes

Large homes can also be a good candidate for a mound septic system, and there are advantages if your property is not right for the typical septic system. Because a mound option can process a large amount of effluent without requiring large amounts of drain field space this type of system can be effective and efficient even for a four or five bedroom and numerous bathroom home.

Larger homes will normally have larger areas of land, and this may make it easier to blend in the mound with careful placement and advance planning. A mound system that services a large home may need more frequent maintenance to prevent problems, such as pumping and draining the tanks on a regular basis.

Homeowners that must use an alternative system will frequently choose a mound septic system because it can be less expensive and more effective than other alternative choices. When area and amount of effluent handled are compared for each system type, using a mound allows you to filter more effluent using less land.

Mound systems are considered a good choice for large homes when the soil or water table prevent the usual system, and for some of the same reasons that this type of system may be preferred for small homes. They can be simply or elaborately designed, depending on the maximum amount of effluent that the system will be required to store and process.

A mound system can include a septic tank that can hold two thousand gallons or even more, and if necessary more than one system can be installed for homes with very high waste production. This makes this system type ideal even for a large mansion with enormous water usage.

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Landscaping And Maintenance Considerations

When you are considering mound septic systems there are some things that you will need to think about. A big concern is making the mound fit in with the rest of your landscaping, and this is done by planting vegetation on the mound.

When looking at the vegetation to use with a mound system keep in mind that roots can cause problems and damage to your system. Avoid any trees or shrubs, because these plants can have deep roots that will clog the pipes or even rupture them.

It is important that mound septic systems are properly maintained, because this will also help you avoid any costly repairs. You should have the tanks pumped regularly, usually on a basis that ranges between one and five years depending on the amount of use the system experiences.

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