Facts About Commercial Septic Systems

If you are a business or large-property owner, you might be considering ways to deal with the wastewater that people will generate. What makes commercial septic systems a preferred choice by many are the personalization options and their benefits to the surrounding environment and public health.

Today we will share some interesting facts about commercial septic systems that may help you decide if you are going in the right direction. You’ll learn who can use them, whether they are regulated or come in different options, and the general considerations to make before investing in such a solution.

1. Commercial septic systems are the same as large-capacity septic systems

This is a question that has bothered many – is a commercial septic system the same as a large-capacity septic system (LCSS)? The answer is yes; both terms refer to the same thing.

To simplify things, we can look at it this way – “large-capacity septic system” is the official term used by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). In contrast, “commercial septic system” is more commonly used among people who do not specialize in septic services or governmental regulations.

Facts About Commercial Septic Systems

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2. There are specific requirements that need to be met to call a septic system “commercial”

Not all septic systems are commercial, as many of them are installed in residential properties to be used by families and guests. However, the specific requirements for such a system are not very clear to many people, that’s why we’ll list them today.

The system is not for private use only

The first requirement for a septic system to be considered commercial is that it’s not meant for private use only. While that statement might refer to a commercial establishment, it might also address receiving sanitary waste from more than one residential property.

Let’s see where commercial systems may be installed:

  • Housing – apartment complexes and buildings
  • Commercial – offices, industrial facilities, retail or grocery stores, shopping centers and malls
  • Public – schools, religious institutions, train and bus stations, highway rest areas
  • Hospitality – hotels, restaurants, casinos
  • Leisure – state parks and campgrounds, recreation or RV/trailer parks

However, these are only examples of possible locations where a commercial system might be necessary to install. Remember that the above is only one of many factors that play a role.

Another condition that needs to be met is the size of the tank. This type of system typically requires a larger septic tank than a residential septic system since it needs to serve at least 20 people a day. A regular residential septic tank can serve between 5-7 people.

The type of waste that the property produces

Let’s not forget a septic system’s primary function and purpose – to process wastewater and sewage generated by using toilets, washing machines, showers, etc. However, they are not designed to process toxic chemicals, motor vehicle waste or other industrial, non-organic matter that a commercial establishment may produce.

That’s mainly because treated wastewater flows into the drain field, where it’s further purified to enter the groundwater system. That water then undergoes its final treatment throughout the different layers of soil, and finally, it arrives at a water source ready for consumption. 

And because people and surrounding wildlife rely on ground water sources for their drinking water, the EPA regulates the commercial use of septic systems strictly. 

In other words, if anything other than organic human waste and gray water enters the system, then the installation is not considered a commercial septic system. However, in some cases, it’s possible to install additional devices for prefiltering, such as grease traps.

Facts About Commercial Septic Systems

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3. Larger-scale commercial systems work the same way residential ones do

This might surprise you, but large commercial septic systems work the same way standard systems do – they’re designed to treat a larger wastewater output. Maybe you expected them to rely on a different processing technology, but they’re simply bigger.

Given that the amount of waste entering an LCSS is more significant than that in a single-family home, there might be multiple, much larger septic tanks. In addition, such a system needs sufficient space for a large enough leach field, which is why it’s sometimes designed vertically to achieve the desired efficiency.

Another difference worth mentioning is that commercial septic installation costs are much higher than the ones for residential projects. That’s only natural given the necessary resources, time, space and work to complete the installation.

Here are some factors that influence the installation costs:

  • The size of the facility/complex and the system’s peak usage
  • Type of septic system processing
  • Additional treatment components or processing
  • Type and number of septic tanks and more

4. Proper and regular maintenance is of the essence

Another similarity between commercial and residential septic systems is the absolute need for frequent maintenance.

However, frequent visits by a septic company turn out to be even more critical for an LCSS. Regular cleaning and maintenance are mainly done to protect the surrounding environment and guarantee water quality as more waste is generated and, thus, more effluent is released into the local ground water.

As sludge in a commercial septic tank accumulates much quicker than in a residential one, it causes more risk of overflow and tank damage and thus requires regular pumping. Flooded drain fields are also a serious risk that must be prevented at all costs.

Except for scheduling regular septic tank pumping, there are other preventative measures that you can take. For example, you can try and reduce water usage inside the property to a minimum. One way to do this is to invest in water-saving toilets and faucets, but educating the people who will use the system is key.

Of course, following general guidelines and LCSS maintenance tips will also help you preserve your property and system for a longer period. Some examples include diverting rainwater from the drain field, preventing any vehicles from parking on it, and planting trees and bushes far enough.

All of these measures will bring various benefits:

  • Extend the life of your septic system.
  • Help you avoid costly repairs.
  • Prevent business downtime and loss of revenue, and many more.

Facts About Commercial Septic Systems

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5. Not all businesses need an LCSS

If you are a business or commercial building owner (or are planning to become one), you might consider installing an LCSS. However, depending on the property’s location, you may not need such a system.

For example, if the property can be connected to a public sewer system, then it’s almost certain you won’t need an LCSS. That’s because the wastewater will be treated by sewage treatment plants explicitly designed for this purpose.

However, there are some cases when a separate septic system might be necessary, even if you are connected to the city sewer. That happens when the calculated effluent standard of your business exceeds the amount of wastewater the main sewer can handle.

6. There are different types of commercial septic systems

Similarly to residential septic systems, LCSS also can differ in the way they treat wastewater. That means there are different types of septic systems to choose from.

The suitable type for your property will depend on various factors:

  • Ground condition/Soil conditions and type
  • Surrounding terrain and slopes
  • Groundwater level and more

There are many more additional considerations to make before proceeding with a septic tank installation. It’s always best to consult a professional septic service provider so they advise you on the best possible solution for your commercial property.