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Businesses on Septic Systems

A septic system on a business/commercial property will need to be pumped out and serviced far more frequently than a residential septic system.

If a business is in an area that does not have a public sewer system, or, if the business will generate a higher flow of additional wastewater than a sewer system will be able to handle, a commercial septic system will be necessary. This type of system, also called a large-capacity septic system, is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "a septic system that receives solely sanitary waste from either multiple dwellings or a non-residential establishment that has the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day."

The wide variety of facility types that a large-capacity system could service include schools, religious institutions, office and commercial buildings, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, and more. Unlike residential septic systems or non-residential systems serving fewer than 20 people per day, the EPA does regulate large-capacity systems in order to protect underground drinking water sources.

Fundamentally, though, a septic system on a business property works in much the same way as a residential system, just on a larger scale. To keep up with the higher volume of wastewater the system will be handling, large systems will require more frequent pumping, maintenance, and service to ensure they operate properly for as long as possible. Business owners managing water use so that the system is not overwhelmed will also help keep the system in good working order.

Again, similarly to residential systems but on a larger scale, the costs of both installation and operating large-capacity systems will vary widely based on the individual factors of the commercial location and performance needs for the system.  

There are some differences to keep in mind for large-capacity systems. While these systems still only handle sanitary waste (so no industrial waste allowed), there are still different types of wastes produced by commercial buildings that their large-capacity septic systems will need to be able to handle. So they’ll need additional design components — such as grease traps in restaurants to keep fats, oils, and greases (the notorious FOG!) from clogging up the plumbing — and more specialized maintenance and service.

Multiple types of septic systems can be used for a commercial installation. AAA Pumping Service recommends sand filter systems, pressure distribution systems, evapotranspiration absorption systems, and cluster systems as well-suited for commercial properties. (A cluster system would serve multiple nearby businesses/commercial properties).

Note: Mention of commercial entities who share educational information does not constitute an endorsement.

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