Installing your septic system yourself may seem like a great way to save money. And with all the do-it-yourself guides and videos available online, what could go wrong?
Actually, a lot.
If you do not have the expertise and equipment to correctly install your septic system, you risk:
- improperly treated sewage waste
- environmental contamination
- public health risks
- property damage
- reduced property value
- fines from your local government
- high costs to repair or reinstall your system
So, our answer is simple when people ask if they can install their own septic system. Yes, with the right permits and approvals, it is allowed in some Canadian provinces. But we do not recommend it.
Installing a septic system is complicated. Think of it a bit like surgery. Sure, you can do it yourself. But it is wiser to leave it to a certified professional with the knowledge, training, and years of experience to do the job right.
Why should I hire a septic installer?
- technical expertise
- hands-on training
- years of experience
- knowledge of local regulations
- licences and certifications
Septic system installers can do the job faster and more efficiently than a DIY homeowner. They have trained teams with the right tools and equipment. Plus, they get contractor discounts for original parts — an advantage that is rarely available to individual property owners.
Finally, there is accountability. Professional septic installers stake their reputations on high-quality work. They will make things right if there are challenges during or after your installation. DIY projects do not come with that peace of mind.
The top qualities of a good septic company
A septic tank system is a big investment for most homeowners in a rural area. It is important to choose a company that will correctly install your system and respond to all your questions.
Excellent customer service is what separates good septic contractors from bad ones. Real pros inspire confidence by training their teams to be honest, patient, and respectful. Instead of cutting corners, they promptly return your messages, deliver on their promises, and stand by their work.
Here are other qualities to look for when hiring a professional to take your septic system from idea to installation.
Valid licences and certifications
Always choose a septic installer with recognized and up-to-date licences and certifications. It is an easy way to be sure that you are getting service you can trust.
Knowledge and experience
It is a no-brainer: the septic installer you hire needs to know what they are doing. Top professionals offer detailed proposals and give clear answers to your questions. They also have years of experience, which proves they have what it takes to be successful in the industry.
The right equipment and insurance
Reliable equipment is a must. Great installation companies have well-maintained excavators, backhoes, and transport vehicles. Their tools are in tip-top shape and specially designed for the job. Plus, they have a Plan B in case something breaks down on your installation day.
Insurance goes hand in hand with the right equipment. Credible installation companies carry liability insurance. This protects their technicians, and it protects you against claims if there is an accident on the job site.
Fair and realistic pricing
Shop around but be cautious of lowball quotes from installers. They may be a sign of poor septic services to come. The best companies have fair prices that are competitive in your region. Their estimates include all the work to be done, plus any additional fees or surcharges.
A solid reputation backed by a warranty
Competent septic installers have good reputations — both online and in your community. They also have clear and complete warranties that guarantee the quality of their work, now and for years to come.
There is no substitute for a septic installation company that operates in your area. Professionals with a local presence understand the unique challenges in your region. They know where to go for parts and supplies. And, because they are nearby, they can respond more quickly to your questions and concerns.
Important questions to ask a septic installer
Knowing the qualities of a great septic installer is important, but it is not enough. You need to be an active participant in your septic project. That means asking the right questions at the right time.
Here is a checklist of questions you should ask your septic system installer before the work begins:
- How much will my septic installation cost?
Ask for a detailed estimate. What does it include? What does it exclude? Make sure you are comfortable with the answers you get.
- When will my septic installation begin?
Get an exact time and date. Is there a plan in place in case the work cannot be done as scheduled?
- What do I need to do to prepare my property for the installation?
Do items need to be moved from your yard? Does your water need to be turned off?
- How long will my installation take?
Some septic systems can be installed in a single day. Others take anywhere from several days to a week or more. It all depends on the system you choose, your soil conditions, the weather, and required inspections.
- Who will perform the work?
Will the company perform the installation itself? Or will it subcontract the work? What level of experience do the technicians have? How can you reach them?
- How will the installation affect my landscaping?
Your septic excavation will affect your lawn. What precautions will your installer take to limit their impact? Will they replant your grass for you?
- Who is responsible for cleanup and potential damages?
Confirm who will clean up the job site after the work is done. Find out who is responsible for any undue damage to your property.
What questions will a septic installer ask me?
It is normal to have questions for your septic system installer. Just remember that they will have questions for you too. Your answers will help them know the budget, scope, and timing of your project.
Here is a list of questions you can expect:
- What is your budget?
Your septic installer will want to agree on a price before the work starts. This avoids price-related headaches on both sides.
- What stage is your project at?
Has a soil percolation test been done? Has your property been assessed for groundwater levels, rock layers, and the location of your well? Do you have the designs for your system?
- Do you have your certificate of authorization?
You will need this permit in hand before the septic tank installation can begin.
- What is the scope and timing of the project?
What exactly needs to be done and when? Your septic installer needs to know so that they can organize resources for your project.
- Is your property accessible?
Can heavy equipment and vehicles access your property? How far from the road is the installation area? Are there locked gates on site? Should the installer be concerned about dogs or other animals?
You are allowed to install your own septic system in some parts of Canada. But it may not be the money-saver that you think it is.
A DIY septic installation has costs. You will pay full price when you buy and transport your system, its components, and the required sand and gravel. The same goes for the excavator you rent. And if anything goes wrong along the way, you are on the hook for the price of repairs.
For our money, it is better to invest in a certified and trained septic installer. Why? Because they have the knowledge, experience, equipment, and reputation to do the job right — the first time.