In Septic Knowledge Center

Septic systems are common to find in more rural areas. These homes typically don’t have easy access to the public sewer system and use septic systems to treat and dispose of wastewater instead. However, depending on terrain and the specific needs of the household a traditional septic system may not be a viable option. Sand mounds are one way to solve some of the problem that homeowners may run into with a septic system.

Basics of a Septic System

A traditional septic system works with gravity to fully treat wastewater before releasing it into the groundwater. As wastewater leaves our homes it is directed into a tank called the septic tank. This tank is divided into two sections where the initial breakdown of harmful bacteria begins. Heavy solid matter, known as sludge, sinks to the bottom while the lighter solids called scum, float to the top of the tank. The middle portion is water that has been partially cleaned by natural bacteria in the tank and is called effluent. This effluent is directed into the second section of the tank and the process is repeated.

Once it progresses through the second tank the effluent is released into the drain field. Typically, the drain field is made up of multiple pipes that evenly disperse this water into the ground. As the water drains further down through the soil any remaining bacteria are removed and clean water drains into the ground water.

When a Septic System Doesn’t Work

Although septic systems are a great way to dispose of wastewater, they are not an option in certain circumstances. Things such as rocky terrain, shallow bedrock levels, and high groundwater levels can all cause problems when installing and maintaining a septic system. One way to combat these problems is to install a septic system with a sand mound.

Sand Mounds

A sand mound can help deal with several of the issues a septic system may face. This works by building up a specialized mound with gravel and sand to allow more distance between the drain lines and bedrock or groundwater. These systems require the use of a pump to get effluent up to the higher levels of the drain field. The pump is specially designed to release a specific amount of effluent into the drain field at a time which allows it to filter properly into the groundwater.

How to Care for a Sand Mound

With any septic system you need to know the proper maintenance to keep it running smoothly, but with a sand mound there are a few extra things you will need to keep in mind.

Know its Location

This may seem like an obvious thing to say but knowing the location of your septic tank, plumbing lines, and where the sand mound is important. Once you know where they are located, you need to keep these areas clear. Avoid planting trees, building decks, and driving over these areas as it can damage the lines and result in expensive repairs.

Balance Water Usage

Sand mounds are typically used when there isn’t enough soil to properly filter contaminants out of the released water. This means that it is best to space out your water usage throughout the week. Because of this, using the dishwasher and doing 5 loads of laundry at the same time is not the best choice if you have a sand mound. By spacing out water usage, the sand mound won’t be overloaded with too much water to properly filter any remaining contaminants.

Divert Surface Water

Again, to prevent overloading the sand mound with water, we need to ensure surface water drains away from this area. Sand mounds are designed to shed water, but it is important to keep water runoff from driveways, roofs, and other surfaces from collecting around the base of the mound.


It’s a good idea to check around your septic system for standing water or sewage smells periodically. This would indicate that there is an issue in your system that needs to be fixed before a bigger problem develops. Additionally, it is a good idea to have us inspect your septic tank, pump, and sand mound regularly to ensure everything is running smoothly.

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