Having a Septic System For A Cabin and RV


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What Are the Benefits of Having a Septic System for a Cabin?

There are many conveniences of Having a Septic System for a Cabin.

Do you have a cabin near the water and are debating if you should install a septic system? If so, then you’ll want to read this article to learn more about the benefits of having a septic system for a cabin but also how to choose a septic system for RV owners or those with a cabin near a body of water.

For anyone wishing to get away, a cabin nestled in the mountains or a secluded area is an optimal choice. However, if you happen to own such a cabin, you may be faced with tough decisions about convenience.

Determining a water supply is one of them.

While many cabin owners may quickly jump to simply owning a “dry” cabin, septic systems have numerous benefits that every owner desires.

Installing a septic system for a cabin not only makes your stay that much better, but it is also a sound decision for future residencies.

If you don’t believe us, we’re here to change your mind.

What is a Septic System?

A septic system is a self-contained underground system. When you flush a toilet or run water in the sink, it drains into this system, where the wastewater is treated.

Septic systems are an efficient way for rural homes or abodes with ample yard space to cleanse their wastewater.

How Does It Work?

After water is used in a household, it travels to the septic tank through a sewer pipe. This tank is a watertight box that stores the wastewater from your home. An inlet and outlet pipe are attached to the septic tank.

Within the tank, solids and liquids naturally settle and separate, forming three layers:

  • Scum: the top layer of water, which is comprised of solids lighter than the water.
  • Partially clarified water: the middle layer, which is partially clarified because of the separation process.
  • Sludge: solids heavier than water, which settles at the bottom.

Natural bacteria work to break the solids down.

The partially clarified water eventually moves to the second main part of the septic system, the drain field. From there, the water is equally distributed in a series of trenches a few feet below the surface.

The water slowly trickles from the drainpipes through gravel and soil, which act as biological filters.

The Benefits of a Septic System for a Cabin

For cabin owners, a septic system can be a priceless commodity.

cabin with septic

No More Outhouses

Have you ever had to clean an outhouse? If so, it’s a nightmarish experience you’re unlikely to forget.

Some owners can get away with hiring a barge or sanitation truck to relieve them of this sacred duty, but very isolated owners or those near water sources do not have this convenience. That means cleaning out the pit . . .

And let us tell you, no one wants to do that.

It requires using a post-hole auger to remove the . . . contents leftover inside. It’s hours of smelly, dirty doo-dee that no one wants to deal with.

However, a septic system ensures that duty is taken care of. Naturally. And deep underground.

No more adding the contents of your stomach to the pit, and no more smelly nightmares.


Do we need to say more after discussing the pit? Maybe not, but just to demonstrate our point we will.

Author Jeff Yeager was forced to go without water for 15 days when installing a well on his and his wife’s property. Together, they suffered through two weeks of agony to come to one of several humorous but accurate conclusions: “Toilets are an engineering marvel.”

Outhouses or a well-sighted tree might get the job done, but then owners have to deal with the aftermath in one way or another. Toilets suck it all away into that glorious system called the septic.

Did you know one in three people worldwide does not have access to a decent toilet? You can. Why not take advantage of it?


Sure, you can hop on down to the lake or river if you live by a water source, but unless you live in the tropics, chances are that water will be cold.

This was another insight of Yeager’s, who wrote, “Cold water is so much better than no water, and HOT water is very, very special.”

With an in-house shower, you have more convenience than you realize:

  • You can use regular toiletries without worrying about environmental consequences.
  • You don’t have to lug everything needed for the shower down to the water source.
  • You can get clean. Like, actually clean and not just semi-clean.
  • You won’t have to freeze your tush off.
  • You won’t have to peer suspiciously into the trees, afraid someone might happen by.
  • You save time.

Having a shower in-cabin is much more practical and efficient.

Running Water

With a septic tank comes a source for running water. Most owners use a well in rural areas.

That means you don’t have to carry buckets of water from the nearby river as if you’re in the 1600s (unless you really want to). Instead, the water is right there when you need it.

Oftentimes, individuals may not realize how much we take our water for granted. Washing dishes, cleaning clothes and even washing our hands are things we do daily. In a dry cabin, these small conveniences are gone.

Instead, you have to worry about clean drinking water, sanitation and water transportation. If you truly wish to relax, these chores can become tiresome.

Environmental Impact

You might be surprised to discover this is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of a septic system. Aside from the convenience a septic tank offers, a well-maintained system can be much better for the environment.

septic system for cabin

Sewer systems connected to a community require extensive piping, but septic systems require much less. Consequently, installation requires much less environmental disruption. Professionals will not have to dig up as much of the land.

The self-contained nature and lack of extra piping may also reduce the risk of raw sewer discharge when compared to community sewer lines. Sewage systems work in much the same way as septic systems, but because sewage networks are interconnected and spread out, it’s much more difficult to keep track of every pipe and part. Consequently, septic systems are easier to investigate, fix and maintain.

Additionally, the water reaching the surface from a septic system is cleansed and then treated more by the soil itself. This reduces pollution and toxic runoff, which can lead to diseases or other issues in natural water sources.

Finally, nearby fauna is provided with water resources to help it flourish.

The EPA states of septic tanks, “Wastewater treatment removes pollution from surface water, recharges groundwater, and replenishes aquifers.”

septic for cabin

Low Maintenance

Septic tanks don’t require extensive maintenance, especially if they are not being used year round.

Traditional households must pump their septic tanks every three to five years, but cabin owners may be able to enjoy longer periods because of reduced use. Likewise, year around households averages an inspection once every three years.

Aside from pumping and inspecting, cabin owners should keep an eye on water usage to avoid overflowing and failure. They should also avoid flushing any damaging materials down toilets or sinks.

As for regular maintenance, that’s really all there is to it.

Making the Most of Your Time

When you’re at your cabin, most likely you’re trying to relax. Having the worries associated with a lack of water can really put a damper on any vacation. With a septic tank, however, you can spend your time enjoying the stay instead of working to conduct basic activities.

A septic tank lets you have all the conveniences of home with the isolation of nature. It’s the best of both worlds.

cabin with septic

How Your System Can Affect Nearby Water Sources

If you own a septic system near a water source, it’s important to understand how your system can affect water if it is improperly maintained.

Firstly, if there are any nearby wells and your system experiences a leak, drinking water can be contaminated. The same thing can occur with natural water resources, such as lakes or streams. The increased nitrates that result can be dangerous to infants, pregnant women, elderly individuals and those with weak immune systems.

If left unattended, those same nitrates can create “dead zones,” oxygen-free areas in lakes and streams devoid of life. This greatly upsets the ecosystem.

septic and ecosystems

Diseases can also spread as a result of an improperly maintained septic system. Hepatitis and dysentery from pathogens in the water risk public health and bugs attracted to the area can spread the issue further.

While this may sound frightening, the same risks are associated with community sewage systems. However, if cabin owners are careful to complete inspections and pump when their system requires it, septic systems are safe and helpful to the environment.

Most of the time, owners go to their cabins to enjoy nature; be sure to give back by maintaining your system.

How to Choose a System

We’ve established how convenient and advantageous a septic system is, but how do you choose one?

1. Determine Daily Use

Calculate the amount of water you and any guests may use when you are at the cabin. Double that amount and you’ll have a good starting point for the size of the system you’ll want.

This will help avoid any backups that can result in environmental pollution, costly repairs and unsavoury smells.

When contemplating size, keep future agendas in mind. If you decide to sell the property or convert it to a year-round abode, water usage will most likely increase exponentially.

2. Check Local Regulations

If your cabin is located near a water source, it’s a sure bet there are local and Provincial regulations about the type and design of the septic tank you can utilize. Contact local authorities and companies to get a better idea of what will be expected.

3. Consider Design

There are numerous types of systems, but they all fall into one of two categories: conventional or alternative.

Conventional septic systems utilize the septic tank, drain field and soil found in most systems. They can handle wastewater and solid waste.

Alternative systems include aerobic treatment usage systems, mound septic systems and more. Although many are very efficient, all may not be able to handle backwater waste.

Research suggested types thoroughly before making a decision.

4. Consider Septic Tank Material

Septic systems can be made with several materials:

  • Concrete
  • Fibreglass
  • Plastic
  • Steel
  • Aerobic
septic tank

Each has their own pros and cons.

Concrete is extremely durable, but cracks can occur as the system ages. Unfortunately, problems in these systems can be difficult to detect, as they require a manual inspection.

Fibreglass tanks may suffer from dislodged plugs, but they are not susceptible to cracking or separation. Similarly, plastic tanks will avoid this problem, but they are more resistant to natural chemical processes. Additionally, their light weight makes them susceptible to damage.

Steel tanks do not last longer than 25 years and rust is a common issue. They have become quite unpopular.

Aerobic septic tanks use oxygen to increase decomposition, but they need electricity. These tanks increase efficiency but require higher maintenance.

Speak with a knowledgeable professional to determine which type is right for you.

5. Contemplate Soil and Area

Conduct a percolation test for the soil to find its absorption rate. Soil features may determine if you can install a system.

soil for septic

Additionally, a professional will have to inspect the property to ensure there is enough space for the system, as well as to make sure it won’t adversely affect any nearby properties or natural landscapes.

Choosing a System for RV Owners

If you’re an RV owner, you may have limited tank space.

RV septic systems include a fresh water, grey water, and black water tank. Owners must connect a pipe to the tanks to empty them into a sewage or septic system.

septic for rv

To choose the best system, consider how many people may vacation in the RV and how much waste will be produced. This will help you determine the tank sizes.

Next, consider accessibility for dumping and consider purchasing an RV with a system indicating how full the tanks are. This will save you tremendous time, effort and money in the long run.

Choose a Company You Can Trust

Do you own a cabin, particularly one near water? Do you want to be able to relax and enjoy the time you spend in it?

If so, a septic system is a right choice for you. A septic system for a cabin has a hoard of advantages that extend even beyond the modern conveniences.

So what are you waiting for? At GroundStone Wastewater Solutions, we’ll find the perfect system for your property. Our experts will ensure both you and the nearby water sources are safe, comfortable and healthy.

Give us a call today to discuss the septic system that is right for you and your cabin.

Luis Goncalves, ROWP, IN, PL

I fell into this amazing trade quite by accident, I have always loved being around heavy machinery and moving earth and in contrast love working with designing things.  This trade in the septic field has led me down a wonderful path of exploring all of my skills and passions while working hard at achieving success.

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