Your actual experiences with septic

Greetings to all.

From the bootcamp and about a year listening to the Frank & Dave show, I have the impression that while septic is not as easy as city sewer, it is a manageable nuisance and nowhere near the problem of a packaging plant, a lagoon, master-metered electric, or god forbid master-metered gas.

Now I’ve found a park I like with septic, I’d love to hear some actual experiences from people who have had a park for some time that has septic. How often does each lot get serviced, have you had any complete horror stories, etc.

Thanks as always!

We have several parks on septic, and we have not had a major problem with any of them. I would point out, however, that we do a huge amount of due diligence on the septic, so we eliminate those that are prone to problems on the front end. A good septic operator can give you the straight scoop on how the land is leaching, etc. to make sure that the system is in good working order.

But is septic a deal killer for us? No. But the park needs to have a strong economics, location, etc. to offset the negative of septic.

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@HighPlainsDrifter , as per your question:

  • “I’d love to hear some actual experiences from people who have had a park for some time that has septic.”

My Husband and I own two Mobile Home Parks:

  • Park #1: City Water & Septic Systems / 24 Lots / 10.9 Acres
  • Park #2: City Water & City Sewer / 65 Lots / 11.9 Acres

Our Park #1 has (City Water & Septic Tanks):

  • One Septic Tank Per Mobile Home
  • Very Low Housing Density (24 Lots On 10.9 Acres / 2.2 Mobile Homes Per Acre)
  • Well Drained Land
  • City Water

If the above exists for the Septic Systems, we would buy another MHP with Septic Systems with no problems.

We wish you the very best!

Licensed inspector of over 25 years, and went to Missouri studying septic systems at the college level.

Very, very few septic systems are properly maintained. They should be pumped every 3-5 years, they rarely are. 99% of people are totally ignorant as to the maintenance requirements of septic systems.

I would have 2 things done.

  1. pump every tank with a visual inspection for backflow - unless it was recently done.
  2. dig inspection holes in every leach field to perform a visual.

The only way I would NOT do the above is if they have paperwork proving proper maintenance of the systems.

If properly maintained, septic systems can last decades. Problem is most septic systems are not properly maintained.


I have had 8 years experience with septic, 6 tanks - 2000 gal each, 4-6 homes per tank. I pump them annually to insure proper maintenance of the system.
There are an additional 11 tanks that are in sequence dumping into 3 tanks with pumps that transfer only fluid to 2 septic beds. The entire system was installed in 1996 and has required no maintenance aside from regular pumping and replacement of failed pumps.
I have had 3 pump failures each at a cost of $1400 - $1600. Pumps should last about 10 years (I keep a spare replacement pump on site).

Have 40 years experience with septic tanks and have never pumped one out that needed it. I have seen ones designed by the quote experts fail simple because of too small of a tank or to many people or soil is not adequate. Our ONLY cost and problems with septic system has been tree roots changing the flow of effluents. Bacteria is amazing at removing waste in the tanks and is very efficient and very green as per the environment. We have had sewer plants but never again will own or operate one. It is ALL about the design and never over loading the system as per number of people or excess water usage. If you use septic systems please meter the water so you know what volume of water is going into the system and possible flooding leach lines. One park with 140 sites with 17 years of operation the septic cost is less than $1,000 and that again was tree roots. Spoke with another park owner today with 80 sites the same story–NO pumping needed on well designed systems. The experts from EPA have lots of book knowledge but some of us after fixing problems have learned solutions they never thought about or experienced!!!

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Carl it’s very dangerous and incorrect to advise that they don’t need regular pumping. You can go years without changing the oil in your car too, but it’s equally wrong.

I have an article that I wrote about it years ago I’ll dig it up. The dept of health also has an article on it.

Not to sound insulting, but stating that they don’t need regular maintenance shows a lack of knowledge as to how they really work, and more importantly how and why they fail.

Just because you got by with it does not make it correct or best practice.

Coach, with 40 years of experimenting and trial and error from MANY other OWNER-OPERATORS of parks; tanks properly instilled NEVER need to be pumped. We have spent time digging up laterals lines checking level of solids in tanks and after owning MANY parks with septic tanks NO problems (how many laterals line have you dug up or tanks personal pumped to be the expert)? The park I refer too is presently in its 45th year of operation with NO tanks pumped. I know what the books say and what the experts say but having a biology degree and similar education leaves me to some very conclusive evidence of what I speak–experience, experience, experience!!! The problem most system face is overloading of liquids and too many people for size of tank or lack of soil for percolation. The modern clothes washer has been a curse for some systems especially if they are doing laundry for people not even living in the park ( yes people do that especial if not metered or an investor park and similar habits). Does the EPA tell you how often you need to pump your tanks and is there advice gospel–they maybe are suggesting pumping since many systems really were never correct from the start or are overloaded and the laterals liquid is coming to the surface. Presently, some of the new guidelines for installing septic systems has some problems–more details if needed. I personally would be very careful presently buying a park on septic BUT if can be a blessing or a curse depending on the installer and how the population has increased in the park over the years.

Based on the design of septic systems where by the tank collects the solid wastes allowing only liquid to exit to the septic bed if you never pump your tanks where are the solids going?

I have 8, 3,000 gallon tanks serving 75 homes. From my experience I have the the following strong advise if you have a septic system:

Watch this video:

and get the core sampler and set up a schedule for taking core samples and record all the findings.

Also watch his other videos which will educate you about the newer septic systems that pump air into the tanks.

Randy, agree with the video and we have checked our tanks and the slug level was never at the level to be pumped. Greg, as with actual sewer plants they cast off sludge that we would pump to a holding tank to be removed by pumping to a truck. With 75 units it took over 7 years to have 1,000 gallons of sludge. The dead wasted sludge accumulates slowly depending on usage and say your have a 1,000 gallon tank with ten people it might need to pumped ever 5 years and how active the bacteria is. Greg it sounds like you have a sand system witch is very effective except for changing of the sand (20-30 years?) and the operation of blowers (electricity) but it useful life is exceptional with the sludge easy to remove from one tank (hopefully instead of numerous tanks). With DEQ we are set up with only two people max per unit but at this point have no aeration units but being near lakes will be their next requirement for new systems. Every system needs attention but not always pumping–never let solids enter the drain field or the sludge will plug up the holes in the lines and you will have a problem that pumping out a tank WILL NOT fix.

Our system is a standard tank (numerous tanks) and septic leaching bed. We do not have a system where solids are cast off. The solids are held in the first of a sequence of tanks designed to prevent any solids from entering the leaching bed. The solids collect and are pumped out at regular intervals. We do all our tanks once per year having 4-6 homes per tank. Based on our experience that is an appropriate interval for our system.

Carl you have no clue. What makes me an expert? You need to read closer. I went to Missouri and took a septic design course at the leading university in the field.

Septic System Operation and Maintenance

Septic System Operation and Maintenance is available in Portable Document Format (PDF, 935KB). … (518) 402-7650, E-mail:
You can obtain your property’s as-built from your local health department or health … Puget Sound Starts Here | Error - File Not Found … U.S. Department of Health, none of these products eliminate the need for routine.

And last the U.S. EPA

Why do septic systems fail?

Most septic system failures are related to inappropriate design and poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (with a leach or drain field) have been installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes or high ground water tables. These conditions can cause hydraulic failures and water resource contamination. Failure to perform routine maintenance, such as pumping the septic tank at least every 3 to 5 years, can cause solids in the tank to migrate into the drain field and clog the system.

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Mr. C. sorry I failed to express my ignorance your highness I am so wrong with 40 years of experience–your are the best!!!

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I thought one of the downsides of septics is that you have to be careful not to put certain items in the system. If true, how do you ensure that your tenants don’t do it?

From a risk perspective, we see few liability claims associated with septic systems. However, if improperly maintained, they can cause sewage backups into homes which can be significant. If you have multiple homes on one system, it can be a very big deal. Areas where there has been lots of rain recently are likely culprits for full systems that aren’t leaching properly.

The other important thing to note is that general liability insurance policies almost always exclude pollution as a covered peril. Some states label sewage back up as pollution, and some states don’t.

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I should have also mentioned that I am a licensed inspector. I have personally inspected thousands of septic systems. So yes, I am an expert in this particular field.

By your logic smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years and not dying proves that smoking isn’t bad for you. The same is true with septics. Just because you got lucky and failed to maintain your systems for so long does not make it right or correct.

Carl, allow me to add that my statement came across a lot more harshly than I intended and I apologize. There is a TON of false, misleading info out there on septic and I just wanted to clear that up.

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Our first park 40 years ago was a 235 space park on septic tanks that is still in operation not using city sewers even thought it passes by on the highway. We OWNED a honey wagon for that park and one of our parks that we have owned 17 years and has been in operation 45 years no tanks needed to be pumped–failed to mention it is a niche property with seniors who have other homes and our usage is very minimum part of the reason for looking at Florida +55 parks. As I explained if ten people are on a septic maybe every 5 years it need to be pumped. Since you are so much of an expert how would you check on the following system which has been in operation 45 years–there are 60 septic tanks and lateral lines that who knows where some of them are. That park sold to investors with no questions about septic’s for less than a 8 caps recently because there have been no expenses for such except tree roots.