FAQs About Septic Systems and Maintenance

Although septic systems are a rather simple sewage filtration option in terms of engineering, they are still a mystery for many homeowners. This is especially true for many new homeowners who don’t know much about their new home’s onsite wastewater treatment system. Below are the most common questions we hear

A: A septic system processes the sewage created by a household. All wastewater is filtered through the septic system. While the water is in the tank, solids fall to the bottom. The remaining water flows out to the absorption field where the soil continues the filtering process.

A: Local law states that your septic tank needs to be pumped and/or inspected at least every three years. 

A: While some of the solids that end up at the bottom of your septic tank are broken down over time, especially with the regular use of septic treatments, they will still build up over a few years. Some solids just can’t be broken down and will also accumulate over time. To continue experiencing very few problems with your septic system, if any, it’s important to invest in preventative maintenance and have your tank pumped.

Also, local regulations dictate that you must have a septic system inspected and/or pumped at least every three years. This helps ensure your system will not contaminate surrounding properties or the environment. A Sunset  Septic service plan helps make the process of maintaining your tank for your family's comfort and county compliance simple and stress-free. 

A: Gray and black water are the two types of wastewater produced by most households. Gray water contains no sewage. It includes waste from showers, sinks, the laundry, and other sources. It’s considered sanitary as there is no sewage in gray water. Black water comes from toilets and urinals and is considered sewage. Some newer homes may have separate septic tank systems for gray water and black water.
A: If used occasionally and in the recommended concentrations, household bleach won’t harm your septic system. Other bleach products, like the tablets placed in toilets, can cause a consistent flow of bleach to the tank and should be avoided. You should always read the labels on harsh cleansers and chemicals to ensure they are septic safe. Many chemicals used to unclog drains can cause a change in the bacteria that live in your septic tank that help to break down solids.

A: You should be able to locate a large sewer pipe in your basement or crawlspace. The pipe is usually three to four inches in diameter. Once you’ve located it, continue in the direction of the pipe. You can use a thin rod to probe the ground every few feet as you follow the direction of the sewer pipe. You should eventually find the lids. Once you’ve found the lids, be sure to make them visible. You might have to dig up some soil around them. After locating the septic tank lids, feel free to get creative with some yard décor to keep them hidden but easily accessible.

If you are still having a hard time finding the location of your septic tank, try looking up city or county records. Most record offices will have blueprints or other information on each property in their jurisdiction. These records may help you locate the tank before scheduling an appointment.

A: Some septic system problems can be repaired. Septic tank lids must withstand the elements plus the occasional mishap in the yard. Damaged lids can usually be replaced. Baffles and leach lines that have allowed solids to pass into the absorption field can also be replaced in most cases. One of the most common septic system repairs is replacing the pump motor, for those systems that have one.
A: An absorption field is also called a leach field. This is an area nearby your septic tank where effluent or septic treated water will flow to. Effluent is free of solids and is ready for the soil to finish the wastewater filtering process. The size of this field will be determined by the size of your home and family.

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