Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need a pumping service?
Pollutants from a poorly functioning system can be drawn into your well and come out in your drinking, cooking and bathing water. If your septic tank isn't cleaned regularly, sludge and scum will clog the drainfield and cause the whole septic system to fail.
Why should I maintain my septic system?
A failing septic system isn't like your car when it is low on oil; there is no red warning light!
The US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Public Health Service states, "A septic tank system will serve a home satisfactorily only if it is properly designed, installed and properly maintained. Even a good septic system which does not have proper care and attention may become a nuisance and a burdensome expense."
What should I put in my septic tank to help break down the waste?
Under normal conditions we do not recommend any sort of bacteria or enzyme additive to be put into a septic tank because under normal conditions they are unnecessary. Our digestive tracts supply the bacterial needs of the septic tank so there should always be enough bacteria in a tank based on the number of people in the house. The only times we recommend any sort of bacterial additive is if someone in the house is taking medications that kill the bacteria in their body (i.e., anti-biotic, chemotherapy or radiation therapy) or if excessive amounts of household cleaners or harsh chemicals are put into the tank. When we encounter a “dead” septic tank we notify the homeowner.
For proper septic tank maintenance, our recommendations focus more to what not to put into a septic tank such as garbage disposal waste, grease, chemicals, baby wipes (including those advertised as safe for septic tanks), cigarette butts, dental floss, trash or anything else that has not passed through our bodies. Septic tanks are part of the pretreatment system and these items inhibit the tank from doing an already sensitive job.
Where is my septic tank?
The location of each septic system varies with each household. The determining factors are well location (including neighbors), yard topography and soil conditions. Each locality is different but the septic tank generally needs to be at least 10’ from the house and property line and 50’ from the well. We generally start our search near a bathroom window on the opposite side of the house from the well. Another useful guide is to locate where the sewer pipe exits the house which gives the general direction of the tank.
Will household chemical use present a health hazard to my septic system?
As is true for a public sanitary sewer waste water treatment system, you should be careful about what you put into your septic tank system. Soil treatment and disposal systems are relatively tolerant to many pollutants but care should be taken to read labels on chemical products so that they are disposed of properly. Pouring large amounts of bleach or other disinfectants into a septic system can at least temporarily decrease the system’s performance.
How does the septic system operate with my water system?
A septic system or any type of waste water line is separated from potable water lines for public health reasons. The amount of water used in a household can affect the performance of an on-site system. As with homes using public sanitary sewer waste water service, water conservation should be practiced to the extent possible and leaky fixtures or toilets should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
What are the most common causes of septic system failures?
There is not one primary cause of septic system failure; however a majority of failures result from either overloading the septic system with too much water use, or lack of maintenance: such as failure to pump out the septic tank on a regular basis. The use of water can be conserved through the addition of water-restricting fixtures and devices.
Why should I be concerned if my septic system is currently working ok?
There are many environmental laws governing septic systems and you, as the property owner, are liable. These laws govern the design, installation, use and maintenance of septic systems. Also, you should never have an "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" attitude toward the septic system; but rather view it as an appliance that needs proper operation and periodic maintenance. Prevention, then, is a key. When a septic system is not properly maintained and pumped, the few solids that do not get eaten by the bacteria can build up in the septic tank and then start overflowing into the soil absorption field. This can destroy the drain field, requiring immediate, expensive, and inconvenient attention from you.
What is an on-site septic system?
To dispose of septic waste a home or business has to be hooked to either “the big pipe” which sends waste to a public treatment facility or to a treatment system that’s on the property. An on-site septic system treats the waste just as the larger, public facility but on a smaller scale. An on-site septic system separates the solids, neutralizes pathogens and then reintroduces the water back into the environment.
What are the septic system components?
All septic systems have pretreatment and treatment components which can vary according to the level of pretreatment required and component manufacturer. A poor soil condition or limited yard space requires greater pretreatment of the waste. Regardless of system design all systems perform the same ultimate job of treating the waste and reintroducing the water back into the environment. With most septic systems, pretreatment begins with a septic tank which allows solid waste to separate from the liquid waste. As waste enters a septic tank water exits the tank and travels to a distribution box(s) which spreads the water to the drainfield. The drainfield is the treatment and final stage of the process.
How often should I clean my septic tank?
Every household is different and there is no exact schedule that we can all follow. What we go by is a rule of thumb that a typical family of four should clean their tank every 3-5 years. If we know how long it has been since a tank’s last cleaning we can make recommendations for future cleanings based on a tank’s current condition and whether or not current conditions in the house are expected to change.