Septic Tank Pumping FAQ

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?

You should pump your septic tank every 3 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 septic tank?

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

You should pump your septic tank every 3 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.

The grass above my septic system is a different color than the rest of my lawn. Why is this?

If the grass over your septic system is lush green and the soil is moist, you may have problems with your septic system. You should contact an expert to examine your system to isolate the cause of this condition. If the grass over the septic system is brown, you most likely do not have enough topsoil to support the lawn’s root system

Should I use liquid or powdered laundry detergent?

Powdered detergent comes out of solution and collects in the septic tank. Liquid detergents do not present this potential problem.

What is baffle?

A baffle is an internal component of the septic tank. An inlet baffle directs all sewage towards the bottom of the tank. An outlet baffle prevents floating scum and grease from escaping the septic tank and accumulating in the disposal field.

What is a Drainfield?

Septic drain fields, also called leach fields or leach drains are used to remove contaminants and impurities from the liquid that emerges from the septic tank. A septic tank, the septic drain field, and the associated piping compose a complete septic system. The septic drain field is effective for disposal of organic materials readily catabolized by a microbial ecosystem. The drain field typically consists of an arrangement of trenches containing perforated pipes and porous material (often gravel) covered by a layer of soil to prevent animals and surface runoff from reaching the wastewater distributed within those trenches.

Do I need to add bacteria to my septic tank after a pump out?

With normal use the human waste from your body will provide all the bacteria necessary in the septic tank.

Can i clogged drainfield be repaired by cleaning or adding enzymes?

Most drainfield failures will need replacement. The only way to evaluate the cause of the problem is an onsite inspection by a registered licensed septic tank contractor. There is no conclusive data to support the long term effectiveness of enzyme use.

My system has a filter, how often should I clean the filter?

Depending on usage it is recommended that you clean your filter once every six to twelve months.

Is it all right to flush feminine products down a toilet serviced by a septic tank?

No. These products are made of cellulose, a non-biodegradable product (the bacteria in the septic tank cannot work on this type of material).

Can I plant trees or shrubbery over my septic tank or drainfield?

Try not to do this. If the tree or bush has a strong root system the roots can choke your drainfield. Roots can also get into the septic tank, reducing its capacity and possibly blocking the inlet or outlet pipe of the septic tank.

Is it okay to drive or park cars on my drainfield?

No. You will cause possible damage or crush your drainfield and will have to pay for a costly repair.

Warning signals of a failing septic system

  • Sluggishness when flushing toilet.
  • Warning Signals of a Failing Septic System
  • Any plumbing backups.
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing.
  • Grass in the yard growing faster and greener in one particular area.
  • Ground mushy underfoot.
  • Obnoxious odors inside or outside.
  • Low spots beginning to appear in the yard.
  • Pump system alarming.