Chamber Septic System – Pros, Cons & Safety

If you’ve used septic systems for a considerable amount of time, then the possibility of knowing about chamber septic systems is likely. Chamber septic systems get their name from the drain field design.

This article will focus on this type of waste treatment system in regards to how they work or function.

Chamber Septic System Option

Basically, chamber septic systems are alternative designs to stone or gravel systems.

In other words, a chamber septic system is a gravel-less waste treatment system that is ideal for areas having high groundwater tables.

When it comes to chamber septic systems, there are several forms. These include open-bottom chambers, the use of synthetic materials like polystyrene media and fabric-wrapped pipes, etc.

Wastewater from the septic tank goes into a drain field consisting of connected chambers.

These chambers are installed in beds or trenches which are filled with soil. Now, wastewater is conveyed through pipes from the septic tank to the chamber where it comes in contact with the soil for final treatment or filtration.

In its most basic definition, a chamber septic system will be better understood by taking the words apart. The chamber being mentioned here refers to the cut pipe. These pipes are cut in a definite way; that is being cut in half lengthwise.

Slits are also made on the sides of these pipes to enable the migration of effluent when the trench bottom gets plugged within a few years. When these pipes are buried or laid within dug trenches, it’s done without gravel.

Wastewater gets out through the open bottom sections into the soil for further treatment.

  • Nature of Drain Field

Drain fields built for chamber systems basically have the same functions as those of other septic system types.

However, there are some variations in how the chamber septic system drain fields are built. Remember, all drain fields are designed for wastewater treatment.

As mentioned earlier, the leach field chambers for this type of system are gravel less.

In place of rocks or gravels, some chamber septic systems make use of corrugated plastic tubing. Such tubing is wrapped with permeable nylon filter fabric.

The effluent coming from the septic tank gets absorbed into the soil through this permeable membrane (nylon filter fabric). There are increasing innovations in the way chamber septic systems are built.

This has seen steady growth in usage of the system as it is more cost-effective compared to some septic system types.

Advantages Of Chamber Septic Systems

Remember we earlier said the main difference between chamber septic systems with other types is in the drain field construction. There are clear benefits derived from the installation of a chamber septic system.

One of those benefits includes its ease of installation.

Gravels are known to be scarce in certain areas and have to be transported long distances to build a drain field.

However, all of that stress isn’t necessary with a chamber septic system, thus making it less expensive due to the use of alternative materials like permeable nylon filter fabric.

Unlike most types of conventional septic drain fields, chamber system drain fields won’t easily get compacted.

This saves you the stress and worry of having a malfunctioning drain field. Despite this fact, it’s important to avoid driving vehicles or other heavy equipment over the drain field.

In terms of inspection, chamber septic systems are easier to inspect.

Also, some leaching chambers will normally hold or store a higher volume of wastewater for further treatment than gravel beds. Chamber septic systems also eliminate the need for gravel.

Drain field lifespan is prolonged due to less intrusion of soil and silt. This is made possible by the leaching chambers design.

Disadvantages Of Chamber Septic Systems

Chamber septic systems aren’t foolproof.

In other words, there are possible downsides to the installation of this septic system type. Firstly, in a situation where there’s a ready or ample supply of gravel, such will be considered less expensive than a chamber system.

Groundwater pollution is a possibility with chamber septic system drain fields. This is because some soils have high absorption or percolation rates.

As such, open-bottom corrugated plastic tubing used allows for unfiltered access of effluent to the soil.


Before septic systems are approved for construction, certain guidelines must be adhered to.

Different states have unique regulations that ensure that pollution is limited. Depending on the soil properties and wastewater flow, the area needed for a leaching chamber system will vary.

There are basically two soil types when it comes to percolation tests. These include coarse and fine-textured soils. More allowance or area is allowed for fine-textured soils (usually starting from 185.8 sq. meters or 2,000 square feet.

It’s much limited for coarse-textured soils with an allowance of about 18.6 sq. meters or 200 square feet.

Also, leaching chamber disposal areas must be at acceptable setback distances. A minimum distance of 100 ft is recommended from a private water supply well.

Leaching chamber disposal areas should be removed at least 300 ft from a public water supply well.

There are varying recommended distances from property lines (10 ft), water line under pressure (10 ft.), sewer interceptor drain (25 ft.), and stream or open ditch (25 ft.).

Will Chamber Septic Systems Best Serve My Needs?

The answer to this question depends on your specific needs.

In certain areas, gravels are very scarce to come across. Such a situation makes the installation of chamber septic systems more practical as gravels aren’t a necessity for this type of installation.

Before the suitability of a chamber septic system is determined, the area will need to be thoroughly inspected. Such tests include percolation and water table level tests among others.

This process enables the adoption of the right kind of system for your property.

Carefully Choose Where You Install A Chamber Septic System

The installation of drain fields under impervious surfaces isn’t recommended.

This is due to the surface pressure which more often than not results in soil compaction. To avoid any such problems, it’s necessary to consult your health department for guidance or specific codes for your property.

The chamber septic system has been under focus. So far, we’ve discussed key features that include the advantages and disadvantages. Every installation action should be done with the help of an expert for the best results.

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