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Septic Systems

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a Septic System Work?

Septic System Diagram Septic systems treat wastewater flows from individual homes or commercial establishments where centralized wastewater treatment is not available. A Septic System consists of a septic tank, a drainfield, and associated piping. Waste is treated by temporarily holding it in the tank where solids and scum are allowed to separate from the water and retained in the tank. Bacteria in the tank decomposes the solids and they are later removed by professional septic pumping. Wastewater flows from the tank through piping to the drainfield where it flows into the gravel and slowly seeps into the soil. There it is further treated and purified naturally (secondary treatment).

How can I help my Septic System last longer?

  • Have your tank pumped out & inspected every 3-5 years.
  • Practice water conservation
    • Repair leaking faucets & toilets
    • Run dishwashers and washing machines only when full
    • avoid long showers
    • use water-saving showerheads, faucets, and toilets
  • Use bleach, disinfectants, and drain/toilet cleaners sparingly
  • If there is a flow diversion valve, turn it once every year.
  • Divert roof gutter drains, and surface water from driveways and hillsides away form the drainfield.
  • Keep sump pump and house footing drains and backwash water away from the drainfields.
  • Get the proper permits and use a professional septic contractor when making repairs.
  • Don't park or dirve over any part of the system
  • Don't use commercial septic tank additives
  • Don't plant shrubs or trees near or over the drainfields.
  • Don't pour harmful chemicals down thre drain.
  • Keep the materials out of your system:
  • Keep pumping, inspection, and maintenance records

How can I tell if my Septic System is failing?

Some warning signs of a failing system are:

  • Slow draining toilets.
  • Sewage surfacing over the drainfield (especially after storms).
  • Sewage backs up in the house.
  • Lush, green growth over the drainfield.
  • Sewage Odors.

How can I improve my Septic System?

Better Septic Systems for a Healthier Enviroment

A home owner buys insurance to protect themselves and their home against misfortune. Why not insure your Septic System? Installing and maintaining some of the modern septic system improvements is some of the best insurance you can buy to protect your septic system and the environment. These modern improvements include: Multiple tanks or two-compartment tanks, Tank outlet filters, and alternating drainfields.

2-Compartment or Multiple Septic Tanks

The septic tank is designed to remove and digest solid material from wastewater. Two septic tanks in series or a two-compartment tank allow a longer retention time of wastewater, allowing more solids to be stored in the tank rather than leaving it and clogging the drainfield.

Septic Tank Outlet Filters

Outlet filters prevent inappropriate solids, such as, sanitary products, diapers, hair, and cigarette butts form leaving the tank and clogging the drainfield. They remove unsettled solids resulting from heavy water usage. The filters will remove most of the grease poured down a drain. A filter, however, will NOT remove bleach and other caustic agents. Outlet filters should be cleaned with a garden hose and re-used every 3-5 years during normal tank pumping.

Alternating Drain Fields

These system consists of two or more drainfields to which the flow can be controlled. Usually only one field is in operation at a time and the other is "resting". A resting filed will recover up to 85% of its original capacity. Typically these multiple fields are each somewhat smaller than the required size of a single field.

Diversion Valve

A Diversion Valve is used to switch between fields. Once a year the homeowner turns the valve to change the direction of flow to the other field.