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18 DIY Septic Systems-Save Thousands of Dollars by Building Yourself

A DIY septic system can save you thousands of dollars and be just as safe as a professionally installed system. Certain regulatory requirements and guidance must be observed, and some regions may require permits, but with a little research, you can discover and follow all the requirements.

A properly installed DIY septic system will last for years and is an ideal solution for people building homesteads in remote locations. A composting toilet is not always a desirable choice for homesteaders and a homemade septic tank with a DIY drain field might be a better option.

Check out our round up of 18 DIY septic systems we have compiled around the internet for you and learn how to install a septic system with few resources.

1- The Tote Septic System

The first one we have is good for tiny houses, RVs, and off-grid living, the TOTE septic system on youtube is a simple but effective way to treat your wastewater.

For Constructing this DIY septic system we will require to have two standard-sized tanks – one for solids with a solids block and another for the overflow. You can get each of these totes at $50-150.

Standard gauge wires to connect the tanks and leach field PVC outlets will ease the installation process.

We will also need a cover for the tanks. The material you choose should be synthetic and capable of bearing the pressure of the soil as well as direct dirt contact without deteriorating immediately. Synthetic carpets or retired solar panels are a great option.

A hole to fit the tank (12-14 inches below grade) and a leach field (5 feet deep and 3 feet wide) will work for this setup. A trench liner is not necessary but could increase the longevity of your system.

With the right resources, you can have this system complete in a day.

2- Small Septic Tank

A tiny house with only two people residing in it only needs a small septic tank, so there’s no need to pay thousands of dollars for a professionally installed, large-capacity septic tank. That’s why I would recommend this diy septic system for a small family

Use these detailed instructions and learn how to build a septic tank by wikihow from two 55-gallon barrels.

This DIY septic system is ideal for a small house and it’s cheap to build. Download and print this free PDF file so you will have the building instructions right at your fingertips.

DIY Septic System
Small Septic Tank, Image via: wikihow

3- Trash Can Septic Tank

Here we have another easy and affordable way to have a septic system on Youtube for your hunting or fishing cabin.  A large trash can is used as the tank and is a sufficient size for a cabin that is only used on weekends. By adding a box of Rid-X a couple times a year the trash can tank will last for years without the need to be emptied.

As a safety precaution, place plywood or other sturdy, solid surface on top of the trash can before backfilling the space with dirt so it won’t cause the lid of the trash to collapse.

4- Tank Replacement

We recommend this to those who already have a septic system but that’s not sufficient for their requirements.   As the family grows the old septic tank might not be able to keep up with the increased bathroom use and an old small tank may need to upgraded to be a larger tank.

This YouTube video will show you how a 300-gallon septic tank was removed and replaced with a 1,500-gallon tank. The detailed DIY septic system installation in this Youtube video is easy to follow and can save you thousands of dollars by showing how to install a septic tank.

DIY septic system
how to install a septic tank

5- Off Grid Septic Tank

This YouTube video will take you through the entire installation process and provide you with plenty of tips and tricks about the best and easiest way to do it.

An off grid cabin doesn’t have to be lacking in comforts, an indoor flushing toilet makes off grid living much more comfortable for all age groups. This DIY septic system’s cost like in this youtube video is minimal and it will last for years.

6- Plastic Container

A large plastic container is easy to transform into a septic tank like in this YouTube video that will show you how to do it.

Many off grid homesteaders use these plastic containers that are surrounded by metal frames as water tanks or food storage, one can also be used as a septic tank. The thick, sturdy plastic and metal cage make these containers ideal for many uses on the homestead.

The cost is minimal and the installation is simple with this video tutorial. Make your homestead more comfortable with a flushable indoor toilet when you install this cheap septic system.

7- Doggie DIY Septic Tank

All dog owners can understand how tiresome it can be to have to pick up after your dog when going for a walk. Letting the dogs run free within the confines of a fenced-in yard still requires hands-on clean up of the lawn.

There is a better way and it’s called a doggie septic system by Instructables and it’s an easy DIY project. It’s a private, un-noticeable, odor-free place for your dog to relieve himself and you won’t have to pick up what he drops anymore.

The doggie septic system works like an ordinary septic system, just on a smaller scale. A 5-gallon bucket is the tank and the rest of the detailed instructions can be found on this website.

Doggie DIY Septic Tank
Doggie DIY Septic Tank, Image via: instructables

8- Cabin DIY Septic System

Make your off grid cabin a comfortable place to live with indoor plumbing by installing a DIY septic system such as in this one youtube video. This YouTube instructional video will show the tools that will make the installation process much easier and provide step by step instructions.

Sturdy 55-gallon barrels are used as the underground tanks and are very inexpensive to purchase.

9- Homemade Septic Tank

Make a homemade septic tank like this one on YouTube video in a remote location.

The DIY project is done by hand and turns out as good as anything that could be manufactured in a concrete manufacturing facility. This shows what can be accomplished when people work together and are not afraid of getting a little dirty.

This detailed video will show you how to build this DIY septic tank and you can scale it down to the size you need.

10- Three Barrel DIY Septic System

Easy, cheap, and functional is a good way to describe this 3-barrel septic system. Three 55-gallon barrels make up the septic system in this Youtube video and it’s a perfect size for a cabin in the woods, workshop behind your house, or any other location that won’t be using flushing the toilet frequently.

The small system is cost-efficient and recycles old barrels and makes them useful again.

11- Brick Septic Tank

Learn how to create a septic system like in this YouTube video using recycled bricks. Discover how to lay the bricks in the fastest and easiest way possible for this DIY project. No special tools are needed for this septic tank build and it is large enough to support the usage of a typical family.

12- Above Ground System

Septic systems don’t have to be underground, they can be above-ground and in plain view. Learn how to create an above ground aerated waste water treatment process in this YouTube video that can handle the waste without creating a stink.

Large sturdy plastic tanks surrounded by metal cages are the primary components of this DIY project. If you don’t want to dig a deep hole in your backyard, this above-ground system just might be your answer.

13- Lots of Drain Lines

Some areas have poor soil drainage and it’s not able to absorb the waste water from a septic system like in this Youtube video without a little help. If you have poorly draining soil then your septic tank will need to have lots of drain lines and this YouTube video will show you how to build septic system.

14- Septic Tank Install

These free instructions will show you how to install a large concrete septic tank by Frugalfarmwife in your backyard. If you know how to operate a backhoe then the install will be very simple.

This installation, along with all the needed components (including the tank) only costs $1,500. That’s a small price to pay for having the convenience of a usable toilet inside the home. If you own or can borrow a backhoe, the total cost will be even cheaper.

DIY Septic Tank Install
DIY Septic Tank Install, Image via :Frugalfarmwife

15- Shallow Trench Septic Tank

The shallow trench septic tank on Youtube is an ideal choice for those who want to save money on their septic system and have it set up in a few hours. You will need a 1000-gallon concrete septic tank, 4″ SCH40 pipe, leach field, and septic fill.

The 4″ SCH40 serves as the main effluent line from the house to the septic tank while the leach field is placed in a trench that is at least 5 feet deep and 3 feet wide. The septic fill will be used as a backfill for the trench.

You can find a 1000-gallon concrete septic tank at most home improvement stores for around $300. The 4″ SCH40 pipe, leach field, and septic fill can be purchased at a local hardware store.

With this DIY septic tank, you get to set speed levels in the D box, which is a great feature if you’re worried about how much water you’re using.

16- Gravity Feed Septic System

As the name suggests, the gravity feed septic system on Youtube uses gravity to move sewage from your home to the septic tank. This system is one of the most common types of septic systems and is also one of the easiest to install.

You will need two standard-sized septic tanks, a leach field, PVC pipes, infiltrators (about 32 inches wide) to dissipate water, and a Diversion box. Tunnels should be placed in the leach field to allow for aeration and prevent waterlogging.

The size of tanks and the number of infiltrators will depend on the number of bedrooms in your home. Most hardware stores will have the necessary supplies for this system.

Although a little more sophisticated, the gravity feed septic system is still a relatively simple system to install.

17- Simple DIY 3 Barrel Septic System

This 3 Barrel Septic System on Youtube is similar to the gravity feed septic system but uses three barrels instead of two. The first barrel is for solids, the second for liquids, and the third for scum.

You will need three 55-gallon drums, a leach field, an effluent pump, and PVC pipes. As with the gravity feed system, the size of the barrels and leach field will depend on the number of bedrooms in your home.

This system is a little less complicated than the gravity feed system and can be installed in a shorter amount of time.

18- $100 Septic System

Perhaps one of the cheapest septic systems you can DIY is the $100 septic system in this youtube video. As the name suggests, this system will cost you less than $100 to construct, and you can have the major set up complete within a day.

You will need two rums, a leach field, an effluent pump, and PVC pipes, and a dry well.

An effluent filter and a septic tank aerator are recommended but not required.

Pros and Cons of a DIY Septic System


  • Cost effective. A DIY system is much less expensive than having a pre-made tank and field lines installed.
  • Cheaper to use. Having a DIY septic system costs nothing to use. Connecting to your local sewer system will result in a monthly bill.
  • Good for the environment. DIY septic systems recycle waste water and send it back out into the environment via field lines. It will provide water for grass and nearby plants and trees.
  • Lasts a long time. When built properly, a DIY septic system will last for decades. With proper usage, the septic system will not to be maintained for several years.


  • You are responsible for maintenance. If any issue arises with the system, you will have to bear the financial burden of fixing it.
  • It can overflow. If the tank is too small or not enough field lines installed the system can overflow. This will send raw sewage out into your yard and create quite a mess.
  • Use carefully. Your household will need to be mindful of everything that is flushed and put down the drain. Hygiene products, food waste, grease, small trash item, etc., can clog the pipes and cause the system to back up.

Wrapping Up

We hope that this article has given you some insight into the different types of DIY septic systems that you can install on your property, and practical advice on how to make a septic tank. Each type of system has its own set of pros and cons, so be sure to do your research before making a decision.

Based upon the most common questions ask I have prepared a questionairs.


What is the maximum depth of a septic tank?

The maximum liquid depth of a septic tank shall be 60inch and a minimum depth is 30 inch. An ideal depth of the septic system may be 45 inch. The total depth must be greater than 8″ above the liquid to allow the air space.

What is an alternative to septic sewage systems?

Composting toilets are the best solution as they contain little to no water and run on electricity or batteries. Composting toilets can be connected to a separate system.

What is the smallest size of septic system?

The most available tank size in the market is 750-gallon. This size is sufficient for containing wastage of two rooms. However not all municipalitie allow that size, some may require even larger size of at least 1000-gallon.

What are different types of septic tanks?

There are four different types of a septic tank. 1-plastic septic tank 2-concrete septic tank 3- fiberglass 4- steel

Helpful Resouce: 

Composting Toilet vs Septic Tank: Which Should You Choose?  by enviromom.

About Farhan Ahsan

My name is Farhan Ahsan,I am web enthusiast, writer and blogger. I always strive to be passionate about my work. I started my work at the beginning of 2007 by engaging myself with detail reading and exchanging information with others. Since then things and times have changed, but one thing remains the same and that is my passion for helping and educating people, building a successful blog and delivering quality content to the readers. I always love to write about gardening, sustainable life, off grid living and homestead farming.

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