55-Gallon Drum Septic Tank For RV (Small Septic System Guide)

It is a good idea, but the situation will dictate if it will work well or not. Some of these drums can handle the black water deposits but not the gray water deposits. The gray water may need to be re-routed to another drum or location. Don't forget about permits and zoning issues.

It is possible to set up a small 55-gallon drum septic system and many RV owners have done this project. The trick is to make sure you do not overuse it as it can fill up rather quickly. Just make sure to have holes in the drum for the fluids to escape.

To learn more about this project, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can duplicate the project if it fits your camping needs. Take a few minutes to see how it is done.

Small Septic System For RV


There are many different types of septic systems you can use for a small RV. They range from the simple to the complicated and you should choose the one that will fit your camping needs.

For example, you won’t need a large one designed for full-time use if you are only using the trailer for two weeks of the year. The materials needed for a small septic system are the same as for a complicated large one.

You will need a hole in the ground large enough for the barrel you are using. Then you will need some PVC pipe with a diameter size large enough to handle the flow without getting clogged.

Plus, perforated PVC pipe for the septic area and some paper rosin as well as a shovel. Don’t forget the PVC glue and elbows. Once you have all the supplies, you should check to see if you need a permit before you build.

After getting all the legal hassles out of the way, then you can start to dig the holes and trenches you need to make the small system work. It is not hard to get a small septic system for a small RV. You just have to jump through all the legal hoops first.

Plus, your design should be effective and handle the waste problem without damaging the surrounding area.

55-Gallon Drum Septic Tank For RV


This is a good idea as many septic systems for RVs and trailers are made from plastic. The metal drum can hold up to the elements a lot better than the plastic material can and should be able to last you a very long time.

The key to using this size of the drum is to make the hole big enough to hold it. Once the hole is dug, you should make sure that the fluids have an exit avenue. The reason for this is that your black water tanks hold 1% solid waste and 99% fluids.

If you didn’t have the exit holes, then the drum would fill up too quickly and the septic system would be of no use to you. After you dig the hole, make sure to line the hole with gravel and then add a layer of sand.

You want the hole and the drum to drain effectively and this is the method to accomplish that objective. When all of this is done, you need to cut holes for ventilation. Some PVC pipes will make sure the drum is properly ventilated after you bury the drum in the dirt.

This project should not take long if you know what you are doing and you have good plans to help you.

Using a 55-Gallon Drum For a Septic Tank


The only drawback to using this item for your RV’s septic tank would be the government requirements. Before you start to dig, you need to make sure the area you are camping in allows for septic systems.

Zoning and permits will need to be checked so you know what requirements you have to meet before you start the project. Generally, you do not need a licensed plumber to do the hookups for you. You may be allowed to do them yourself.

One good tip for using the 55-gallon drum is that when you are burying the drums, you will need two of them, you should fill both, not one, with water. This helps the drums avoid collapsing under the weight of the dirt when they are buried.

When you build this septic system correctly, your waste should disappear rather quickly As for collapsing under the weight of the dirt, this may apply more to those plastic 55-gallon drums than it would the metal ones.

Plastic is not as strong as metal and the weight of the dirt can damage those drums while not affecting the metal ones. Also, make sure you have plenty of ventilation for those drums so that no damage will occur during their use.

When using this size of drum for your small RV septic system, do some calculations to make sure it is large enough for your waste needs. It may work for the two of you but if you have kids, then it may not be the right size.

Plan your septic system according to how many people are using your RV at the time.

DIY 50-Gallon Septic Tank


There are many steps involved in making your own septic system for your small RV. We have written a more detailed article on this topic that provides different options for you to consider. You can read it at this link.

The major concern when using the 50-gallon drum is to make sure it will be large enough for your waste needs. This is 5 gallons less than the 55-gallon option and you have to be sure it is going to be okay to use.

When getting ready to convert this drum into a septic tank, make sure to cut the holes in the top to the right size. Usually, that size meets the outside measurements of a toilet flange you have bought to use for this project.

The hole you will need to use for this system measures roughly 4 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and about 26 feet long. Once you place the first drum into the trench, you will need to dig another hole about a foot deep to accommodate the second barrel.

Make sure to place a layer of drainage gravel in the second hole for the second drum to sit on. Also, make sure you have the right amount of slope in your system to facilitate waste flow in the proper direction. Some people use stakes to help them get that flow and to support the drainage pipe.

The key here would be to fill both tanks with water before you backfill the trench and cover the barrels. The construction of the 50-gallon drum septic system is the same as it is for the 55-gallon option.

How do You Hook up An RV Hookup To a Septic Tank?


This will depend on where you live. Some cities and counties do not allow you to tie your RV’s black water tank to your house septic, sewer, or drain field. There are other cities and counties that do. You would have to check with your city or county to see which side they are on.

If you are allowed to, you can create a new line into your septic system as long as the tank is well below capacity. Or you can T a line in from your RV to the existing house line. This T should not interfere with the flowing water, etc., from your home.

Finally, you can tie your RV into the clean-out as long as that connection does not interfere with the other functions of the sewer line. This is all if you want to use your home’s sewer system.

When you are connecting to your DIY small RV septic tank, you have to make sure that you buy the right size of pipes and connectors. If you can’t do this, look for adapters.

Connection is simple as most RV black water exits have threads and you would just need a connection that is threaded in the same way. Then do not use any perforated pipe at this time and cut the solid pipe to length to complete the connection to your 50 or 55-gallon drum.

Make sure to use good PVC glue on the drum side of the connection to avoid any leaks or other problems.

Some Final Words

Creating your own small RV septic tank is not going to be a problem or that difficult to do. Most people can complete it in about a day or two. The problem will come in with your city or county regulations.

You may not be allowed to do this and you will end up having to take your RV or trailer to the official dump site. Stay within the law to make sure you do not pay any fines, etc.

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