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Laws on On-site Sewage Systems in Pennsylvania

Beth Berry

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PDEP) regulates on-site sewage systems, also known as septic systems. The purpose of this regulation is to protect groundwater and ensure the safety of Pennsylvania residents. When considering an on-site sewage system for your new home, or the replacement of an old system, contact the PDEP for regulations specific to your area.


Hire a reputable, licenced professional to install your septic tank.

Your system must be installed, modified and maintained by a certified septic system installer. Inspections are required to ensure proper installations. Contact the PDEP for a list of professional installers. Ask for references to ensure quality workmanship and maintenance.


A comprehensive site analysis must be preformed to determine the ideal placement of the system. A Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) will work with the installer to ensure proper soil type and drainage before issuing a permit. Distance from the house, large trees and driveways will be considered.


In properly functioning septic tanks, approximately half of the collected waste decomposes. The other accumulates and must be pumped out every one to five years. A typical three-bedroom home requires a 900-gallon tank. At a two-person occupancy, this home's tank should be pumped every 5.2 years. At a six-person occupancy, the same volume tank might be pumped as often as 1.3 years. Know the location of your connections and port hole in case you need maintenance during the winter when they may be snow-covered. Use biodegradable products whenever possible.