We are buying a house with well & septic. Well was tested at 6.6 gpm and the septic system checked out okay. This will be the first time I'm not on public utilities and I am stressed.

Just 2 people will be living in a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom house where 4 people currently reside. I LOVE my SpeedQueen washer, and it uses a whole washer full of water, plus the rinse cycle. I do about 6 loads of laundry a week, usually not all on the same day, and usually not full loads.

I think our well should be able to handle the water required, but I am concerned with the septic. Will it be a problem if I do say, 3 loads of laundry in a 3 hour period, with each load using roughly 30-40 gallons of water, in addition to 2 showers a day and other normal hand washing, etc.? I won't be doing this on a daily basis, just laundry 1 or 2 days a week.

According to the inspection report, it is a 1500 gallon tank and has 2 drywells, only one of which is currently in use.

I do not care at all for the new high efficiency washers. I love my SQ and want to keep using it, but not at the expense of our well/septic systems.

  • 2
    Why not full loads? That's just a waste of resources...
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:38
  • By that I mean each load isn't necessarily 30-40 gallons of water, some are smaller, like 10-20 gallons. For example I might have just a few delicate things per week, but our towels or sheets take a full washer load.
    – Stephanie
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:43
  • The house has 4 people now. Do they have a washer? Most standard household washers are about the same water use per load.
    – crip659
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:29
  • Well, it does have a washer now, but it is a high efficiency low water usage type. I am wanting to use an "old school" type that fills to the top with water, and agitates. Most of the new washers barely use any water. I much prefer the old school type.
    – Stephanie
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:45
  • The septic liquids overflow into a leach field, right? I.E. Is there a leach field? Apr 19, 2023 at 19:53

3 Answers 3


You'll be fine

1500 gallons is quite large for 2 people. The general assumptions for sizes tend to just be based on how many bedrooms, and they don't assume you have a high efficiency washer.

You have 2 dry wells. I'm assuming the first flows to the second if the 1st one runs out of capacity, and if the second isn't in use then the system has been well over-sized for the four people. Your washer won't be a problem. [Edited] - the second dry well is a backup should the first fail to function. This ensures that your system is robust.

Regular maintenance is always good for septic systems, don't let it sit for 20 years and there won't be a problem. Pump-outs every 5 years would be more than enough.

  • Thank you. Apparently one of the dry wells is capped, and will be uncapped when the other is full, and then that one will be allowed to "rest" for 7-10 years according to the report. My main concern is that my Speed Queen uses a lot of water, in comparison with the high efficiency washers that are sold nowadays. But, I figure that when the house was built in 1981, the high efficiency (low water usage) washers didn't even exist. Thank you for your help. This is all so new to me.
    – Stephanie
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:42

We love our Speed Queens as well, and have been on well+septic for many years. Our septic and well are very similar to yours, though our family was quite a bit larger than yours for many years (now empty nesters :-).

We never had an issue with our septic system, though our well did have issues unrelated to the number of loads of wash we did (average 2x per day when the house included grand-children!)

You will have no issues at all with your setup. Keep those Speed Queens going!

  • Thank you so much, Mr. Quayle, for your help. This helps me feel better about the whole situation. I do appreciate your time.
    – Stephanie
    Apr 20, 2023 at 22:48
  • I actually have another question--do you use a lint trap of some kind? I've read that the lint that is generated can clog up the septic system. We use the mesh kind now, but the new house will have us connect the discharge hose right into the drain, with no place to catch the lint. Thank you again.
    – Stephanie
    Apr 20, 2023 at 22:55

I found this calculation at this UK site (I am not associated with it)

For 4 bedrooms (6 people) the recommended size is a 3000L septic tank, which is only 800 gallons.

Another way of working out is to use 150L per day per person and have capacity for 7 days. This is what I used for specifying for my house.

4 people X 150L per day X 7 days = 4200L or 1100 Gallons

This is based in NZ, where the local council says that a rural resident uses 150L a day. For some reason, a townie uses twice the amount.

We do 2 to 3 washing loads a day and at least one dishwasher. There are 4 of us (including two teenage boys) in the house. And boys use more water than girls for showering. And our system has been fine for 5 years now.

So, you are all good for the septic tank (even with 4 people using it).

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