What is a septic system?

A septic system is a subsurface wastewater treatment and disposal system. In most circumstances a septic system will serve only one individual house or building. The sewage from the house enters the system through a building sewer and is treated before being discharged into the ground. Modern systems include a septic tank to retain solids, greases and fats and a disposal field to allow the liquid (effluent) to flow into the ground. 

How often should I pump my septic tank?

State law requires you pump your tank every 3 years, however, we recommend you pump your septic tank every 2 years under normal circumstances. If you have a large family you will want to pump the septic tank more often to prevent solids from flowing out of the tank and fouling the disposal field.

I've never had any problems with my septic system, why should I pump my tanks?

The primary function of the septic tank is to separate liquids from solids. Solids are retained in the tank after settling. Digestion of the solids occurs over time; however, the rate of solids accumulation exceeds the rate of solids digestion. Additionally, not all of the solids are digestible. Therefore, the solids level does rise over several years. A septic tank must be pumped periodically to prevent the solids level from reaching the outlet baffle where they are carried over to the disposal field. 

What is gray water?

Gray water is the portion of sanitary sewage that is not generated from toilets or urinals. This includes laundry wastewater, kitchen sinks, showers, etc. It is not unusual for homes built prior to the 1980's to have a separate septic system that handles the gray water.

What is black water?

Black water is the portion of sanitary sewage that is generated from toilets and urinals. 

Is it OK to use bleach in my laundry?

When used at the recommended rate household bleach does not produce a high enough residual concentration of chlorine to harm a septic system.

Where is my septic tank located?

The septic tank is usually buried near your house and connected by a sewer pipe to your indoor plumbing. You can find the pipe in the basement, usually 3 to 4 inches in diameter

Can a septic system be repaired?

Yes. Depending upon the problem, many times a repair is possible. Some examples of a repair would be: to replace a broken baffle that has allowed solids into the leach field, replace the pump motor, or to replace a cracked or collapsed septic tank lid.

What is a leach field?

A leach field is the area through which effluent from the septic tank is dispersed into the soil to be filtered. In the leach field, the effluent moves through the pipes and seeps into the surrounding soil. The soil filters out suspended solids and organic matter. Bacteria in the soil then decompose harmful microorganisms and other organic components. Clay particles trap viruses which eventually die. Treated effluent continues downward as it percolates through the layers of soil. Leach fields are not always built the same way or the same size. Things like soil types, topography, trees, and nearby wells can all dictate the size and design specifics of a leach field.

I want to have my tank pumped out but I don't know where it is.

Checking with the local health department for an as-built drawing of your system is the first step. In some cases an electronic locator is the most effective way to find the tank.

Do septic tank additives really work?

Additives are no substitute for proper maintenance and proper use of your system. Many additives on the market do little to aid in the breakdown of solids, and some may even hinder the natural bacteria in a septic system.

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