What’s a Bedroom? How Home Upgrades May Impact Your Septic System.

Though it may seem like an obvious question, the nuances of what makes a room count as a bedroom are particularly important when considering how home upgrades may impact your septic system. We know the septic system isn’t at the forefront of your mind when you’re sorting through paint chips and flooring options during a remodeling project. However, certain home renovations may also require you to upgrade your septic system. Read more to discover what qualifies as a bedroom and why that matters for your septic system.

Sizing Standards for Septic Tanks

Many people mistakenly believe that the size of a home’s septic system is determined by its number of bathrooms. However, building codes actually base the size of the system on the number of bedrooms (or potential bedrooms) a home has. Why? The more bedrooms a home has the more people it can house. The average person uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water a day. Each additional person in a home increases the daily strain on the septic system. Because of this, building codes look at the number of bedrooms a home has, figuring each bedroom houses two people, to determine how big the septic tank will need to be. Adhering to these guidelines not only keeps your house up to code, but it also ensures your system will be capable of handling the waste produced by your family.

Due to differences in climate, septic building codes vary from state to state. In the state of Ohio, the following guidelines determine the appropriate sizing requirements for residential septic systems.

Number of BedroomsSize of Septic Tank
1-21,000 gallons in one or two compartments
31,500 gallons in two tanks/compartments
4-52,000 gallons in two tanks/compartments
6+2,500 gallons plus 250 gallons for each additional bedroom in two tanks/compartments

What Counts as a Bedroom & Why It Matters for Your Septic System

So, what is a bedroom? While this may seem like a question that has a simple answer, what qualifies as a bedroom is actually quite surprising to most people. In Ohio, a bedroom is defined as “a room that is designed or used as a sleeping room or any room that could reasonably be used as or finished as a sleeping room.” Whether or not a room actually qualifies as a bedroom is ultimately up to the local health department, who works together with the building department to make sure buildings are safe and sanitary. While regulations vary from state to state, the following criteria are most often used to determine whether a room can be considered a bedroom:

  • Square Footage: A room needs to have a minimum square footage in order to be considered a bedroom. Typically, a space 70-80 square feet qualifies as big enough to be considered a bedroom.
  • Width: In some instances, a room may meet the minimum size requirements, but not qualify as a bedroom because it is not wide enough to reasonably be used as a bedroom. A long hallway, for example, could be 70-80 square feet, but that space could not be reasonably used for sleeping. Typically, a room must be at least 7 feet wide in any direction to qualify as a bedroom.
  • Ceiling Height: To be considered a bedroom, a room must also meet certain ceiling requirements that allow an adult to stand upright. Usually, more than half the room must be at least 7 feet tall. This consideration is often used to assess whether a finished attic or loft space qualifies as a bedroom.
  • Exits: For safety reasons, bedrooms must have at least two exits, often a door and a window big enough for a human to fit through, usually 5.7 square feet. For this reason, rooms in basements often do not count as bedrooms unless a larger window is installed in the foundation wall.
  • Heating & Cooling: Bedrooms must be climate controlled in some way. Typically, this requires a room is vented to connect to the home’s HVAC system.

Home Upgrades that May Require Septic System Upgrades

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when determining if a room qualifies as a bedroom is whether it can reasonably be used as a bedroom, not whether you’re planning on using it as one. For example, if you are finishing a lofted space to create a home office, and that space meets all of the requirements to qualify as a bedroom, it will count as a bedroom. If this new space bumps your home into another threshold, say from 3 bedrooms to 4, you may need to upgrade your septic tank. Any home upgrade that creates a space that could reasonably be used as a bedroom may also require septic system upgrades.

Be sure to work closely with your contractor, health department, and a trusted septic provider to determine whether the space you’re remodeling will require you to upgrade your septic system as well. Supeck Septic has been Northeast Ohio’s septic services expert since 1968. We pride ourselves on providing exceptional routine and emergency septic services. Contact us today to learn more about how your home upgrades may impact your septic system.

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