Ask Angela: Can you put a dumpster over a septic tank?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela, we’ve got limited space on our worksite. Can we put a dumpster over a septic tank?

Hey, there. I’m really glad you asked this question because we’ve had a few customers over the years who have discovered there’s a very costly answer. Basically, no, we don’t advise it. And I’m going to tell you why.

First of all, any time you’re doing work near a septic tank you need to be very careful what you place on or near the tank. They aren’t built to withstand the weight of a dumpster, or even a storage container. You shouldn’t even park on them, to be honest.

If your site has a septic tank, make sure it’s clearly marked so your crew doesn’t accidentally park or drive heavy equipment over it. In fact, it’s a good idea to put up some temporary fencing or orange safety fencing just to make sure everyone knows it’s there.

Second, make sure you order an extra porta potty or two depending on the size of your crew. Most septic tanks are built for families – we’re talking five or six people max – so it’s almost guaranteed you’ll have issues if you’ve got a whole crew trying to use bathrooms hooked to that septic tank.

We’ve had customers who didn’t take this advice and ended up with a backed-up tank that needed an emergency pump-out or complete clean-out. Both of those options take time and will leave your site without facilities. Our advice is play it safe and get a porta potty for the crew.

Finally, let’s address your underlying question. It sounds like you don’t have a lot of space at your worksite. You may have space for a smaller dumpster that can be serviced more frequently, or we might be able to place the dumpster in a driveway or on the street (if your municipality allows that). Visit our dumpster sizing page to see the different sizes available or give us a call and we can help you find the right solution.

As always, thanks for asking your question! Our goal is to help you avoid costly errors whenever possible. We’re always here to help, so reach out through the comments section of our social media accounts if you have a question for us!