The Septic System Owner’s Manual

The Septic System Owner’s Manual


This is a revised edition of our handbook and guide to the basics of septic systems. The book covers, in addition to septic tanks and drainfields, septic system main­tenance, what to do if things go wrong, and advanced systems such as shallow drain­fields, effluent filters, and trickling ­bio‑filters — includes chapters on gray­water systems, composting toilets, and a unique history of water-borne waste disposal.

This is the only com­pre­hensive, non-­technical book on septic systems ­available for home­owners.

“… a do-it-yourself guide to the natural process that takes place underground and the simple technology needed to make it work.”
—Small Flows Journal

“… well-written, easy to read, and which contains about all the information any owner could want.”
—Ecology Action Newsletter

“It’s all here: system mechanics, the biology, maintenance, do’s and don’ts…”
—Point Reyes Light

“Any homeowner with a septic tank should get a copy.”
—Nashville Tennessean

“… an excellent guide essential for any who reside on a septic system.”
—Wisconsin Bookwatch

Learn all about household septic systems—including how to maintain and repair them—whether you’re planning to build or already own a home.

More than 28 million households have septic systems, yet few homeowners know how they operate or how to maintain them. The Septic System Owner’s Manual describes the conventional gravity-fed septic system, how it works, how it should be treated (what should and should not go down the drain), how it should be maintained, and what to do if things go wrong. Written by Lloyd Kahn, with illustrations by Peter Aschwanden, this is your straightforward, easy-to-understand guide to small-scale residential wastewater disposal.

The Septic System Owner’s Manual is perfect for the average homeowner, based on conventional systems, providing practical advice on how to keep these systems up (or should we say down?) and running. You’ll also appreciate information on the evolution in composting toilet systems, designs for simple graywater systems, and some typical alternatives to the standard, gravity-fed septic system. There’s a chapter with advice to any community that’s faced with town-wide septic upgrades and a chapter on the history of waterborne waste disposal.

Homeowners will especially find this book useful in terms of the following:

  • Working systems: By understanding septic system principles, you will know how to maximize its useful life.
  • Partially failing systems: You may be able to nurse along an ailing system or even bring it back to life.
  • Failing systems: You are given a discovery process to search for the problem.
  • Alternative systems: You will understand how they work and what purposes they serve.

Get this comprehensive book, and get to know the ins and outs of your septic system. It could save you countless repair bills and countless headaches!

Additional information

Dimensions 8 × 10 in

Lloyd Kahn


Blair Allen, Julie Jones



Page Count:


Publication Date

February 1, 2007


Shelter Publications


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