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

When it comes to DIY septic systems, I have firsthand experience navigating the process. Several years ago, my family decided to build a cabin in a remote area where connecting to municipal services wasn’t feasible. We opted for a DIY septic system to manage our waste disposal needs.

Research was key. We delved into local regulations and guidelines to ensure compliance, which varied from what we were used to in more urban areas. Permits were necessary, and understanding soil composition and drainage requirements was crucial for designing an effective system.

Building our DIY septic system not only saved us a significant amount of money but also provided a sense of self-sufficiency. With careful planning and execution, our system has functioned reliably for years, meeting our needs without any issues.

However, it wasn’t without challenges. The physical labor involved in digging trenches for the drain field and constructing the tank tested our patience and endurance. But seeing the project come together, knowing we had created a sustainable solution tailored to our needs, made it all worthwhile.

In hindsight, I’d recommend anyone considering a DIY septic system to thoroughly research and understand the local regulations, soil conditions, and best practices. While it’s rewarding to take control of such an essential aspect of homesteading, proper planning and execution are paramount for long-term success.

Check out my round up of 18 DIY septic systems I 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 by UnitedStatesofBuild 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’s another budget-friendly method for setting up a septic system, inspired by my own experiences living off-grid. I stumbled upon a tutorial by The Appalachian American on YouTube, where they ingeniously repurposed a large trash can as the tank for their hunting cabin. It’s a practical solution, especially for cabins used sporadically throughout the year. Incorporating Rid-X periodically helps maintain the system’s efficiency, extending its lifespan without the hassle of frequent emptying.

Drawing from my own trial and error, I’d recommend taking an extra safety measure when burying the trash can. Placing a sturdy surface like plywood atop it before backfilling with soil prevents any risk of the lid collapsing under the weight. This simple step ensures the longevity and reliability of the makeshift septic setup, providing peace of mind for worry-free weekends in the great outdoors.

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 by Jesse Muller 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, Image via: Youtube

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 by Deep South Homestead is minimal and it will last for years.

6- Plastic Container

Transforming a large plastic container into a septic tank, as demonstrated by Septic Tank TV in their informative YouTube video, resonated with my own journey towards self-sufficiency. I’ve encountered similar plastic containers encased in metal frames on many off-grid homesteads, serving various purposes from water storage to food preservation. The versatility of these containers, owing to their robust construction, makes them an ideal choice for a DIY septic system.

Reflecting on my experiences, I found the cost-effectiveness and simplicity of installation highlighted in the tutorial particularly appealing. By following the step-by-step guidance provided, one can enhance the comfort of their homestead with the addition of a flushable indoor toilet, improving the overall quality of off-grid living.

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. Supplies need to build this syptic system are 5 gallon bucket, Drill, Jigsaw, Needle nose pliers and Safety glasses.

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 like this one by Rk Thai Aluminium Fabricators in this 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

Crafting a homemade septic tank, as demonstrated by Rk Thai Aluminium Fabricators in their enlightening YouTube tutorial, resonates deeply with my own experiences of rural living. I’ve often found myself in remote locations where access to conventional infrastructure is limited, prompting innovative solutions like this DIY project. Witnessing the outcome, as effective as any factory-manufactured tank, underscores the power of collaboration and a willingness to roll up one’s sleeves.

Drawing from my journey, I’d suggest embracing the hands-on approach showcased in the video. There’s a certain satisfaction in creating something essential with your own efforts, and this detailed guide empowers individuals to tailor their septic tank to their specific needs. Whether scaling it down for a smaller property or replicating it for larger demands, this tutorial serves as a blueprint for self-reliance in off-grid environments.

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 like  in this Youtube video by JT Meyer 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 this one by Construction Worker 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 by MR Post Frame | Marshall Remodel 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

Learning how to install a large concrete septic tank as outlined by Frugalfarmwife in her invaluable instructions, mirrors my own experiences navigating the challenges of rural living. With a basic understanding of operating machinery like a backhoe, the installation process becomes remarkably straightforward, empowering homeowners to take control of their sanitation needs.

Reflecting on my journey, I’d recommend considering the long-term benefits of investing in a concrete septic tank. Despite the initial cost of $1,500, the convenience of having a fully functional indoor toilet outweighs the expense. Additionally, if you have access to or can borrow a backhoe, the overall cost becomes even more economical, making it a worthwhile investment in the comfort and functionality of your home.

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

15- Shallow Trench Septic Tank

The shallow trench septic tank by Andrew Camarata 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 by Daniel Woodell 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

The 3 Barrel Septic System showcased by JT Meyer on YouTube caught my attention due to its ingenious twist on the traditional gravity feed setup. Utilizing three barrels instead of the conventional two, each barrel designated for a specific waste component, adds an extra layer of efficiency to the design.

Gathering the necessary materials, including three 55-gallon drums, a leach field, an effluent pump, and PVC pipes, echoes my approach to hands-on projects—meticulous preparation for smooth execution. Adjusting the size of the barrels and leach field based on the household’s needs adds a personalized touch, ensuring optimal functionality tailored to specific requirements.

Comparing it to the gravity feed system, I appreciate the relative simplicity of the 3 Barrel Septic System, which promises a quicker installation process without sacrificing effectiveness. This streamlined approach aligns perfectly with my preference for practical solutions that deliver results efficiently.

18- $100 Septic System

Perhaps one of the cheapest septic systems you can DIY is the $100 septic system like this one by Busted Wagon Ranch 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.

An expert advice and tips on installing a septic system

Certified septic inspector Doug Cooper-environmental consultant shares his knowledge and experience on installing a spetic system in this guide. He has been the principal in Cooper Environmental Services since 1995.

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


Michigan State University Extention, by Terry Gibb and Bindu Bhakta, Published Septempter 11,2020, “Being “SepticSmart” ensures the health of your family, lake and waterfront investment”, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/being-septicsmart-ensures-the-health-of-your-family-lake-and-waterfront-investment

Texas Water Resources Institute, Pipeline, Summer 2008 vol.19, No. 1, “Septic Systems and Source Water Protection”, https://twri.tamu.edu/media/1238/ossf-education.pdf

Extension University of Missouri, By Robert A. Schultheis Agricultural Engineering Specialist, Revised October 2001, “Septic Tank/Absorption Field Systems: A Homeowner’s Guide to Installation and Maintenance”, https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/eq401

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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