Alternatives to Septic Systems For Cabins

By Robert Jones Mar2,2024

A homeowner with a cottage recently discovered that her basement was being used as a septic tank. Due to the rocky terrain, a conventional septic tank was not viable. Instead, the homeowner would need to install a large leaching field. Additionally, there was the added expense of emptying the tank, which could quickly go unnoticed. Fortunately, several alternatives available for cabins can help homeowners avoid this costly and hidden expense.

Composting toilets

While septic systems are the go-to option for many rural communities, they can be expensive, difficult to maintain, and disastrous if they fail. Composting toilets are a great alternative, but are they a good option for cabins? It depends on where you will use these toilets and how much space you have. Thankfully, these environmentally friendly options are much more affordable than you might think.

While a septic system will require plumbing, composting toilets can be a better option if your cabin is isolated. These toilets can divert the urine to be used as an organic plant nutrient. They don’t require any water and are easy to install. Nevertheless, they may not be the most attractive solution. You’ll need to empty them frequently, and they require some maintenance.

Waterless toilets

Are they considering Waterless toilets as an alternative to septic systems for cabins? These toilets are not only environmentally friendly, but they are also cost-effective. They are great for cabins because they can eliminate the red tape of installing septic systems and water closets. Some waterless toilets can even be composting toilets, which add to the soil’s nutritional value and emit no foul smell if appropriately maintained. Other options include incinerating toilets, which burn human waste to sterile ash, or other disposal methods.

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Some cabins have plumbed toilets but lack septic systems or wells. While these cabins can be easily installed with conventional plumbing, many people do not want to deal with permitting agencies or other complexities. Others want an easy way to save water without worrying about septic systems. Waterless toilets are the answer for such people. Read on to learn more about them.

Advanced treatment units

A septic system pumps wastewater through a tank and then out the outlet pipe (typically PVC or 4″ diameter).

The sewage then flows to a nearby centralized or distributed treatment facility, where it is treated. The treatment process can eliminate up to 95% of the pollutants, and the treated effluent can be discharged downstream to a ditch or watercourse.

Another alternative to a traditional septic system is an advanced treatment unit or adsorption. Unlike a conventional septic system, an advanced treatment unit uses a pump to introduce oxygen into the wastewater. It suspends suspended growth to reduce nutrient loads before they reach the drain field.

The Remediation System from Aero-Stream uses a biofilm-like medium to reduce nutrient load before it reaches the drainage field.

Raised bed

Whether building a new home or renovating your cabin, raised bed alternatives to septic systems can be a good alternative. An expanded bed system uses a receptacle in the ground far from your home that stores the waste generated by toilet flushing. The system then reaches your home’s drain system through a large underground pipe. Raised beds are also popular alternatives to septic systems.

Another alternative to a conventional septic system is a raised bed system, also known as a mound. The expanded bed system is an above-ground system that has a gravel bed and a pump chamber to separate the effluent from the scum and sludge. These systems are a great alternative if space is at a premium.

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Septic mound

For those who want a genuinely eco-friendly camping experience, there are alternatives to septic systems for cabins. A composting toilet eliminates the need for a septic system, but an outhouse is still essential to cabin sanitation. A well-built outhouse can also be built in your cabin to eliminate the need for a septic tank. However, this method has a few drawbacks. For starters, if you live near a water source, you must cut down any trees near the system. Otherwise, the roots of trees could cause an expensive system failure.

A greywater system is another option. This system is compatible with a composting toilet. You’ll need a holding tank and regular pumping to keep it full. A privy, meanwhile, is a small waste disposal area where running water is unavailable. A gray water system only works for sink and shower water. And if your cabin is just a few hundred square feet, you can also use a greywater system.


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