Did you just acquire a commercial property and want to know where all the waste is going to go? Or, are you concerned about the level of sewage you’re putting out and wondering if you need commercial septic installation? The EPA defines commercial septic systems, also known as large-capacity septic systems, as having the capability to serve more than 20 people daily, typically from non-residential establishments or buildings with multiple residences. If that sounds relevant to you, read on to learn more about commercial septic systems.

1. How Do Commercial Septic Systems Work?

If you know how a septic system works for residential use, then you know how a commercial septic system works, too. Simply put, they work the same way. If you need a quick refresher, here are the basics:

  • Waste goes down the drain from your toilet, sink or tub.
  • It travels to the septic tank.
  • Solid waste stays in the tank and is treated with bacteria.
  • Wastewater flows into the drain field, also called a leach field.
  • The drain field treats and filters the wastewater.
  • Treated wastewater, called effluent, flows into the ground.

“Yeah, that’s all the same,” you might be thinking. So, what makes commercial septic systems different? Well, they’re bigger — and they have to operate on a much larger scale. That means a lot more wastewater and a higher-capacity septic tank, with some even requiring the use of an extension. In certain cases, a lift station pump might also be used to keep things flowing correctly.

2. Why Would You Need Commercial Septic Installation?

If you own or operate a commercial property — in an area that does not have access to a public sewer system — then there’s a good chance you’ll need commercial septic installation. Even if your commercial building is located in a municipality with a sewer system, the sewer might not be able to handle the amount of flow that your property pumps out. It all depends on the scale of your operation — but going by the EPA’s standards, if you’ve got more than 20 people regularly using sinks and bathrooms in your establishment, you’ll definitely need a commercial septic system installed. 

Commercial septic installation is required for businesses that are mandated by law to have restrooms. You’ll want to have a proper system to keep your bathrooms running, anyway. But, is there ever a case where a single-family home would need a commercial septic system? Unless your family is hitting the toilet enough for dozens of people per day, the answer is almost certainly no.

3. What Counts As a Commercial Property?

You may still be wondering if commercial septic installation is right for your property. Below are some common examples of where large-capacity septic systems are installed:

  • Apartment complexes
  • Retail or grocery stores
  • Offices
  • Industrial buildings
  • Schools
  • Houses of worship
  • Campgrounds
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list. It’s also worth noting that commercial buildings often produce different kinds of waste than homes, some of which may require additional considerations. For instance, restaurants need grease traps to keep fat, oil and grease from blocking up their plumbing. Any business that may deal with industrial or motor vehicle waste will need to take further precautions, as commercial septic systems are only approved to handle sanitary waste — the EPA regulates the use of these systems to prevent toxic chemicals from contaminating sources of water. Companies that offer professional commercial septic installation can provide some guidance to help you understand these complex regulations.

4. How Often Do Commercial Septic Systems Need Maintenance?

The short answer: commercial septic systems need maintenance and cleaning quite often. Because they deal with a larger amount of sewage than standard systems, they produce more effluent that enters the groundwater. As such, to prevent a commercial building from harming its surrounding environment, the septic tank must be pumped on a regular basis.

Commercial septic systems also require more specialized cleaners and equipment to handle a large amount of waste. Buildup happens a lot faster with so many people contributing, leading to a higher risk of broken tanks and flooded drain fields. You need regular pumping to remove solids. Working with a septic company to get on a maintenance and cleaning schedule is the best way to ensure that your commercial septic system works properly for as long as possible.

5. How Can You Save Money When Operating A Commercial Septic System?

Commercial septic systems are an investment, and there is no set way to determine the cost. Ultimately, it depends on your business or commercial establishment. Several factors impact the operating cost, including:

  • The type and size of the septic tank
  • The amount of waste and wastewater that is produced
  • The conditions of the ground that may impact the leach field

Additionally, in a commercial setting, it is much more difficult to manage what people flush or wash down the drain. However, you can reduce the amount of water that is used so that your septic system doesn’t get overworked. Updating the bathrooms in a commercial building is one way to do this, particularly by investing in water-efficient toilets and faucets. Another way is by helping the people who will be using your system (e.g., employees and tenants) to understand how they can reduce their overall water use.

Ready for Commercial Septic Installation? Moon Site & Septic Can Help

If you’re looking for commercial septic installation or maintenance in South Florida, the experts at Moon Site & Septic can get the job done. We know commercial septic systems inside and out, and we can install a new system for you — or work with you to get on a regular maintenance schedule for your current system. Contact us today to discuss your options — we’re ready to go with the flow!