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Old 09-10-2020, 09:25 AM   #1
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External holding tank for septic

We purchased some land and plan to put our 5th wheel on it. It's vacant land in the middle of the woods.

I'm trying to come up with solutions for handling our septic waste. I've seen others get those black poly tanks that sit under or near their camper and then they just pull their plugs and let the waste go into those which they have pumped out at some point.

Curious if anyone has done this with an IBC tote either sitting above ground but lower than the camper or actually buried the tote into the ground?

For the IBC tote idea or those black poly tanks, do they vent these at all with a stack or anything? Just curious if having a tank nearby is going to smell, especially when it gets hot in the summer.
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:28 AM   #2
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How about a portable waste tank that you can haul off and dump.


https://www.campingworld.com/barker-...nk-630088.html
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:39 AM   #3
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I have one of those already. I don't know of anyplace nearby to the property that i could dump it and i don't want to haul it 2hrs home every time either. So worse case if i don't put a holding tank near the camper, i could put one closer to the road to make it easier for the pump truck to get to.
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Old 09-10-2020, 10:00 AM   #4
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weight the cost of tank plus pump truck for X amount of years Vs the long term solution of septic tank install...
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Old 09-10-2020, 10:07 AM   #5
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IBC tanks.. will collapse if buried. Also, depending on the water table tanks that are empty have been known to float up, concrete tanks included. In short, you may not want to bury anything. We always fill septic tanks with clean water immediately in my area due to this.
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Old 09-10-2020, 10:31 AM   #6
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I wouldn't bury these tanks they are not made for this, place it somewhere out of sight and use either a Flojet macerator pump or a sewage pump designed for residential septic systems to transfer the 'juice' and then have it pumped and properly disposed of. If it fills up too fast get a 2nd tank, they are cheap. Depending on the property and local regulations and bylaws you could use the grey water to water the trees. However, if you are in a climate with any kind of winter conditions you will have to find another solution.
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Old 09-10-2020, 10:50 AM   #7
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We're in a similar situation and have spent an extensive amount of time planning our off-grid setup. For us, we will only visit our property 2-3 weekends a month. So for full time living this may not work for you.

This first thing is to develop a plan. If you look at mine I have placement of where everything is going to go. From left-to-right is our water tank, generator in a zombie-box enclosure, 4x4x4 irrigation pit back filled with drainage rock, the septic tank and a propane tank.

For the waste we have a 500 gal. external septic tank that will be partially buried. As the onboard black tank gets full I'll transfer the waste to the external tank. Then I'll have a porta-potty service come and pump that as needed. We already have a porta-potty on the property and checked with our service that they can empty the septic too. Also, on the septic I put the same waste tank fitting on that so it's a nice seal when transferring the waste.

We're hoping to have everything done within the next 6-weeks. I might come back and post some final pictures at that time.
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Old 09-10-2020, 11:53 AM   #8
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I really like the suggestion by SacRV, but the rest of the previous suggestions are good ones, for more ideas check this thread: https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...ly-215581.html
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Old 09-10-2020, 12:21 PM   #9
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If you are leaving for awhile make a septic tank if the ground perks.
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Old 09-10-2020, 12:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by SacRV View Post
We're in a similar situation and have spent an extensive amount of time planning our off-grid setup. For us, we will only visit our property 2-3 weekends a month. So for full time living this may not work for you.

This first thing is to develop a plan. If you look at mine I have placement of where everything is going to go. From left-to-right is our water tank, generator in a zombie-box enclosure, 4x4x4 irrigation pit back filled with drainage rock, the septic tank and a propane tank.

For the waste we have a 500 gal. external septic tank that will be partially buried. As the onboard black tank gets full I'll transfer the waste to the external tank. Then I'll have a porta-potty service come and pump that as needed. We already have a porta-potty on the property and checked with our service that they can empty the septic too. Also, on the septic I put the same waste tank fitting on that so it's a nice seal when transferring the waste.

We're hoping to have everything done within the next 6-weeks. I might come back and post some final pictures at that time.
Exactly what I was thinking for Septic. The underground Turd Mine. (as I call them due to their shape)
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Old 09-10-2020, 12:35 PM   #11
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... I might come back and post some final pictures at that time.
Please do...the more info/pictures the better!

What is the cost to pump out the $500 gallon tank?
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Old 09-10-2020, 12:58 PM   #12
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We are looking for black/grey water solutions also.

Currently we use a pump out service geared towards RVs. They will pump out a 42 gallon tote for less than $50. That works well for the volume of black water we have but find we must really use care to not produce a lot of grey water. (No clothes washer or dish washer use! Navy showers and other water conservation techniques.)

So...we are looking for an affordable grey water solution. I'm thinking maybe a 275 gallon tote and pump. We might have to trailer the tote off site unless we can find a reasonable cost pump out service.

Anyone know of a QUALITY RV macerator pump? I've read many complaints about reliability. They seem geared for pumping (many) 10's of gallons of waste from RV tanks, not a 275 gallon tote. (Or an even larger stationary tank.) I thinking of using a unit geared for small residential use.
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Old 09-10-2020, 01:11 PM   #13
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We are looking for black/grey water solutions also.

Currently we use a pump out service geared towards RVs. They will pump out a 42 gallon tote for less than $50. That works well for the volume of black water we have but find we must really use care to not produce a lot of grey water. (No clothes washer or dish washer use! Navy showers and other water conservation techniques.)

So...we are looking for an affordable grey water solution. I'm thinking maybe a 275 gallon tote and pump. We might have to trailer the tote off site unless we can find a reasonable cost pump out service.

Anyone know of a QUALITY RV macerator pump? I've read many complaints about reliability. They seem geared for pumping (many) 10's of gallons of waste from RV tanks, not a 275 gallon tote. (Or an even larger stationary tank.) I thinking of using a unit geared for small residential use.
Our septic service will charge $190 to pump the septic tank. We already have a porta-potty with a 70 gal. tank that we only need to pump twice a year. So this new larger one should be 1-2 times a year too.

You will want a separate solution for your grey water, otherwise you'll be pumping the septic quite frequently.

One very important thing to note to those who have talked about the 275 gal totes. The wall thickness of the septic tank is significantly thicker than the IBC totes. I'd say it's about 3/8" of an inch. You do not want to use a tote as a septic, they are not designed for that.
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Old 09-10-2020, 01:47 PM   #14
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Sidebar consideration:

An immobile RV will not agitate and emulsify the wastes in the primary holding tank - with motion as it is towed or driven down the road. If you don't have an adequate supply of pressurized water, you may soon discover that your black tank is packed with solids, and it won't function and dump as it should.

Two possible solutions.

1) Substantial water storage on site to both serve as a freshwater supply and for cleaning your systems. A large plastic potable water holding tank combined with a "sprinkler" pump (about $200 for one that can generate 50 PSI) would do the job when connected to your generator. Use it for your black-tank flush.

2) Direct plumbing from your blackwater drain system to your buried "septic" tank...bypass your onboard black tank altogether...much like a home.

Long-term use of an immobile onboard black tank may quickly lead to unexpected problems if you don't have the systems to cope with the problems that "build up" in the tank.
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Old 09-10-2020, 11:51 PM   #15
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We are looking for black/grey water solutions also.

<<snip>>

Anyone know of a QUALITY RV macerator pump? I've read many complaints about reliability. They seem geared for pumping (many) 10's of gallons of waste from RV tanks, not a 275 gallon tote. (Or an even larger stationary tank.) I thinking of using a unit geared for small residential use.
Depending on your building codes, and considering your interest in a long-term and simple solution, think about a "dry-well"...essentially a leach field without the septic tank. A dry well consists of a small holding tank and "manifold" to connect to 2 or three "leads" exiting the tank into a proper leach field.

If your soils perk well, you can dig one by hand. Two trenches 4' deep and about 25 feet long would do it. Fill the bottom of the trench with about 12" of pea gravel, add the perforated drain pipe, cover with pea gravel...this makes it about 16" of pea gravel/pipe. Top with filter fabric and backfill the ditches. Haul away or evenly spread the "spoil."

Again, this is soil-perk and zoning code dependent. I've done this for washing machine effluent in two homes, and it worked great. In truly rural areas, you can be on your own on this front, and you must use your judgement regarding dry-well location so as to anticipate drilling a water well at some point in the future. But considering that actual septic systems are often within 100 feet of the same home's water well, but hundreds of feet higher in ground strata, some research should help you ensure a safe, sanitary installation.

A local farmer could come by with a backhoe and do your digging and back-filling for a modest price.

As for a macerator pump, don't mess around. Install a proper pump used in septic systems to lift from the basement level to a raised bed septic system. Illustration, not recommendation: https://www.sumppumpsdirect.com/Zoel...RoCNowQAvD_BwE
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Old 09-11-2020, 11:28 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by willie1280 View Post
We purchased some land and plan to put our 5th wheel on it. It's vacant land in the middle of the woods.

I'm trying to come up with solutions for handling our septic waste. I've seen others get those black poly tanks that sit under or near their camper and then they just pull their plugs and let the waste go into those which they have pumped out at some point.

Curious if anyone has done this with an IBC tote either sitting above ground but lower than the camper or actually buried the tote into the ground?

For the IBC tote idea or those black poly tanks, do they vent these at all with a stack or anything? Just curious if having a tank nearby is going to smell, especially when it gets hot in the summer.
I think you have several considerations here. One is if you are planning on making this a permanent vacation spot. the second, if so, are you planning on putting a cottage on the land someday. If you have either of these in mind, I would put a permanent septic system in right off the top, along with a well. I understand you may not have power so that is a consideration as well, although for temporary use, you could use a generator to power the well. If you have plans for a cottage you could get approved for the well and septic and put them in with the idea of connecting the cottage to them when it is built and in the meantime connecting to them with your 5th wheel as though you were just doing full hookups at a campground. We have full hookups at our house and are on a septic system and have had no problems with it for almost 50 years. The trick is not to put stuff down it that can hurt it (we don't use any holding tank additives - only soap), and we pump it regularly (We are on a 4 year schedule right now.) We recently had the tank and field checked by the county and it was still good even after all these years. You will find the convenience of the permanent tank and field well worth the cost over the years. When it is time to build your cottage, you will just have to connect into your tank and should be good to go. One thing, though, we oversized our tank when we built our house, so when we added on to it and later remodeled it, there was capacity in the tank and field to handle the changes. You will have to juggle the costs to do it with the benefits, but, it will take a lot off you knowing your septic will be as good as a house and work well without much concern for having to put stuff in a tank and haul it away.
Another possibility is to check with your local DNR to see about one of those tanks that composts the waste without water. I recall seeing them in MI a few years ago in a state park. Not sure how it worked, but, it was supposed to compose all the waste into something that could be just scattered on the ground. You might be able to find something about it on line. I'm not sure what the brand or name of it was.
We are planning to build a cottage and will be putting in a connection for full hookups for our trailer to the cottage system when it is built and will be oversizing the system there when we do it. It costs a bit more now, but, it is well worth it for the future.
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Old 09-11-2020, 12:50 PM   #17
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I have one of those already. I don't know of anyplace nearby to the property that i could dump it and i don't want to haul it 2hrs home every time either. So worse case if i don't put a holding tank near the camper, i could put one closer to the road to make it easier for the pump truck to get to.
Why not contact your county health department and find out what you would have to do to put an in ground septic system?

That way you could just plumb your camper to it and forget it for the most part.

Just keep in mind, you still should leave ur black tan, valve closed until the tank is 2/3-3/4 full, then dump it and flush it with water from your grey tank.

Sounds like a PITA but it is only a once a week chore that prevents a large brown pyramid forming in the black tank. cleaning that out IS NOT A GOOD TIME!!
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Old 09-11-2020, 08:20 PM   #18
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Many really good comments posted in this thread! Really helpful.

When installing an external holding tank, what venting is needed? How far away should it be from the RV and deck/patio...?

I spoke with a local septic service company. The gave me a verbal guestimate of upwards of $30,000 for a septic for a 3 bedroom house. Yikes! (The property slopes down towards a river and is rocky. So...pump uphill and likely truck in soil.)
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Old 09-11-2020, 08:47 PM   #19
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Like a park model

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2) Direct plumbing from your blackwater drain system to your buried "septic" tank...bypass your onboard black tank altogether...much like a home.
Isn't that how park models work?
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Old 09-12-2020, 12:03 AM   #20
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Isn't that how park models work?
Could be. The OP has a fiver: 2018 Arctic Wolf 265dbh8
I suspect this would require a mod.
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