The Truth About Septic System “YouTubers” and “Bloggers”...

Having been helping people build and install my DIY Septic System for nearly 40 years at the time I’m writing this, I’ve researched and studied a lot (and I mean a LOT) of information pertaining to septic systems of all different shapes, sizes, and types.

I’ve been doing this way before the Internet was in use by the majority of the population, and if there’s one thing I can say it’s this:

As wonderful and helpful as the Internet can be, those good qualities are certainly matched by how damaging and misleading it can be as well.

Every day, 7 days a week (even on holidays such as Christmas, New Years, and every other one!), people send me messages asking for my advice about building a septic system.

Email I received about the DIY septic system
An actual email I received on Christmas Day...

Some of the most common phrases at the beginning of these messages include:

“I found this YouTube video...”

“I found this blog...”

“I was reading this forum...”

Here’s the thing: Some of those sources might actually give some good, solid information.

But here’s another thing: Every single time someone mentions one of those sources to me and I go take a look at it I notice a few VERY IMPORTANT things:

1 — The information is no good, or—

2 — The information seems to be somewhat okay, but the most important steps for building the septic system are nowhere to be found, or—

3 — The information is both absolute crap and the most important steps are missing.

Unfortunately, from my experience it’s usually number three.

But why is it like this?

You have to understand that most of these sources—YouTube videos, blogs, and forums—are created and/or cultivated by people who don’t really know what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to building a septic system.

99.999999999% of the time it goes like this:
  • Someone searches “how to build a septic system”.

  • They find a YouTube video, a blog post, or a forum that contains horrible advice (I'll show you some examples farther down this page).

  • They decide they will also use the same bad information (because they don’t know any better).

And, what’s even worse, sometimes they then pass the same horrible information on for others to blindly follow in the form of a YouTube video, blog post, or forum thread.

Most of these people literally have no idea when it comes to even the basics of septic system design, other than the bad information they’ve blindly chosen to follow and then promote...

It also doesn’t help that irresponsible people who don’t know what they’re talking about just choose the link, page, or post that’s easiest for them to find (usually the first one that pops up in the search results) and slap it on their YouTube video, “blog”, etc., like this guy:

irresponsible blogger Joelsgulch

Did this guy really just post a link to the nearest website he could find, basically telling people visiting his “blog” to build a highly-flawed septic system? Why yes, yes he did... SMDH...

If you follow the link this irresponsible "blogger" posted, it will take you to the WikiHow septic system. I've already covered everything that's wrong with that system and why you should avoid it at all costs, and you can read all about it on this page.

Question for you: What is one of the WORST things in life?

If you answered “Having to dig up a failed septic system,” then you are correct.

Again (I REALLY can’t say this enough), every “DIY” septic system I’ve seen online—whether it be YouTube videos, blog posts, or forum threads—all have major design flaws.

Let’s take a look at some YouTube examples, shall we?

Video 1:

Bad DIY septic system one

Right from the start, this video is missing a lot of important steps, especially steps about proper land prep and testing, system location, and soil specifications.

All of these are very important topics that CANNOT be skipped if you want to build a durable DIY septic system.

For this type of design, there is a lot of unnecessary material and prep work. Material = money, and work = time, and this guy is wasting a lot of both.

The leach lines are installed way too low.

The leach lines are sloped. This seems to be a major piece of misinformation that continues to be passed around because I see it in nearly every flawed DIY system I review.

The builder uses the wrong type of caulk. Here’s a fact most people don’t know: Not all sealants are created equal.

He’ll be lucky if that caulk he used lasts a few years, especially buried underground. Once the caulk goes, dirt, debris, roots, etc. enter, and the system will definitely fail.

I’m not going to go over every single flaw in this video, so I’ll end with this: For this type of design, this guy is going way overboard. Most of what he is doing is NOT needed and is a waste of time, effort, and money, all for a highly-flawed septic system that will eventually fail.

Oh, and one last important point: There’s no way to expand the system in the future if it is wanted/needed like my DIY Septic System.

Video 2:

Bad DIY septic system two

“DIY in 3 hours” and all in an 8-minute video — Right off the bat I knew whoever uploaded this was full of shit, especially when I saw the system they were building.

Wait, where are all of the important steps that are needed to build a DIY system?

Oh wait, they’re nowhere to be found...

Bottom line: You’re not going to be able to know everything you need to know in order to build a proper, inexpensive, durable DIY system after watching an 8-minute YouTube video.

It AIN'T gonna happen...

And the final thing I'll say about this video: This has to be the absolute WORST video on YouTube about building a DIY septic system—hardly anything is actually shown, none of the steps are really discussed, and the video is a complete waste of time.

Video 3:

Bad DIY septic system three

My first thought: What in the hell is this?

Where to even start with this one...? Well, I’ll start with this: I understand that he’s trying to put something together with “stuff that you probably have sittin’ around the house”, so kudos to him for the ingenuity (I guess...?), but this thing he’s built is just absolutely awful.

I’m just going to list the problems rapid-fire like:

The “system” is way too shallow in the ground.

The “septic tank” is way too small.

The overall system is way too small.

The “septic tank” is a freakin’ plastic trash bin with a removable lid (a HORRIBLE idea...).

The “chambers” are a horrible idea and the design is simply awful.

He put the top of the trash can “septic tank” right at ground level so that whenever someone walks over that part of the ground, the thin, plastic lid will cave in to a big bucket of sewage.

Okay, I’m tired of wasting my time and I’m only about 3 and a half minutes into the video, so I’ll end with this: He actually says, “You can see what I’ve done here, I don’t need to explain that much...”

I changed my mind—this, THIS is the worst video. At least with the last video, the guy didn’t even really show anything.

With THIS video, anyone who actually builds this monstrosity is in for a very nasty surprise when it completely fails, which I’d bet will be much sooner rather than later.

As you can see, all of those systems have many serious design flaws

I’ve reviewed probably well over 100 different DIY septic systems, and I always find multiple flaws.

And keep in mind, those were just the first 3 videos I saw. You can probably find hundreds of others.

I actually watched around 10 or so other videos while writing this, and—you guessed it—every single one of them had serious design flaws and were missing important steps, ESPECIALLY when it comes to proper land preparation and safety.

You can’t just put a septic system anywhere, there are very important steps that you have to follow to make sure that you are properly installing the system, and every single video I watched completely skipped all of these important steps.

What’s worse, in several of the videos I could tell that the system they were installing wasn’t located in a good area, which will cause even more issues.

If you use any of the videos I’ve discussed here, your system will most likely fail. In fact, it’s not a question of “if”, but “when”...

So why is all of this bad information constantly passed around?

I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I think it mostly has to do with people simply not knowing any better.

What I mean is, they don’t have any experience with any kind of DIY septic system (or any type of septic system at all) and they just blindly follow whatever random (bad) information they can find online.

They then decide to make a video or a blog post about the bad information they themselves used thinking that they will help others, instead of realizing that all they are really doing is not only building a flawed septic system, but also telling other people who also don’t know any better to use the same, bad design.

Of course, there are also people out there who don’t care at all what they post, as long as it gets clicks and views...

The choice is yours...

I’ve given you plenty of solid info here explaining why you should be careful blindly following random YouTube videos, blog posts, etc.

You should know by now that you are taking a huge risk with those sources.

But ultimately the choice is yours: If you want to take a chance by following some random video or "advice" on some random blog, go for it.

Just remember what I told you on this page when the system fails and you come looking for someone like me to fix the mess...

Just a few reviews of my (properly-designed) DIY Septic System:

Five Star Review Good In Australia
By Jack W. on June 4,
Verified Purchase
My wife and I along with our 2 kids live in a relocatable home that is in a remote area and we had been using a couple of above-ground tanks for waste. It was set up by someone else a long time ago and it was not good at all. We wanted to put in an underground septic tank system that would be more sanitary and I found this book while trying to see what we had to do. We were able to install this type of system for less than $100 and it has worked bloody well. If you need a septic tank system use this book as your guide and do it the right way.
4 people found this helpful

Five Star Review This worked great for me
By Jerry O. on January 10,
Verified Purchase
I ordered around 10 books on making an off grid home site. I had 2 books on septic systems including this one and it is by far the best one. The other book was talking about more type of septic systems you find in big homes but this book goes through each step to build a small system wich is what I needed. Me and my wife put in the same system as in this book and it works great we are so happy we have a kitchen and bathroom and fully off grid. I can tell you this book will work if you need a off grid septic system.

Five Star Review Check this out if you need a septic system..
By Offroad6856 on October 11,
Verified Purchase
I spent what seem like many hours watching videos on youtube about putting in a homemade septic system and was about to start building my own. The problems was that none of the videos were 100% complete or they skipped steps or didn’t even show steps at all. Lucky I found this guide and after going over everything I now see that I would have been screwed if I followed any of those videos. I went back and watched the 2 main videos I was gonna try and follow and they both have major issues plus they are both way more $ than what this system cost me. This is exacly what I was needed and I do recommend this guide for people wanting to put in a new system.
3 people found this helpful

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