Septic Frequently Asked Questions

Many homeowners believe that they do not ever have to pump their septic tanks because they don’t have any problems. When you wait for the problem to occur it is likely to cost you more than if you just would have had it pumped on a regular basis. Think of your septic system as a garbage can, when it gets full you empty it, the same goes for a septic tank they do get full and they do need to be emptied.

Do I even have a septic tank?

If you live in the country or outside the city limits most likely you have a septic tank. If you don’t get a monthly sewer bill from the city, most likely you have a septic tank. If you just don’t know call us we will come to the house and either find the septic tank, or find that you are on city sewer. If you are just buying a house please ask for a septic inspection. This way you know what you have or what you don’t have

How does my septic system work?

A septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home or business, a spetic tank, a drainfield, and the soil. Wastewater from your toilet, bath, kitchen, and laundry flows though a pipe from your home and into the septic tank. Microbes in the soil digest or remove most contaminants from the wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater.

The Septic Tank – A septic tank is designed to intercept and hold solids contained in wastewater from your home or business. The tank is a large, burried, watertight container typically made of concrete. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow heavy solids to settle to the bottom (forming sludge) and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). Solids that are not decomposed remain in the septic tank. If not removed by periodic pumping, solids will accumulate until they eventually overflow the drainfield, causing costly repairs.
Septic tanks typically have two compartments, which do a better job of settling solids. Tees or baffles are provided at the tanks inlet and outlet pipes. The inlet slows the incoming wastes and reduces disturbance of the settling sludge. The outlet keeps the solids or scum in the tank. All tanks should have accessiable covers for checking the condition of the baffles and for pumping.

The Drainfield – Wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil. Generally, the drainfield has a network of perforated pipes laid in gravel-filled trenches or beds in the soil. Wastewater trickles out of the pipes, through the gravel layer and into the soil. The size and type of drainfield depends on the estimated daily wastewater flow and soil conditions. The soil filters effluent as it passes through the pore spaces. Microorganisms in the soil provide final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients. After effluent has passed into the soil, most of it percolates downward and outward, eventually reaching groundwater.

What can I flush down my toilet?

Despite what the package may say, some things you just shouldn’t flush. Baby wipes, baby diapers, grown up wipes, tampons, tampon applicators, dental floss, q-tips, cigarette butts, grease, toys, none of this stuff should go into your septic tank. I know they say they are flushable but they do not break down like organic material does.
Household chemicals are another no-no. Gasoline, oil, pesticides antifreeze, paint, etc. Chemicals kill the benificial bacteria contained in your septic system and can disrupt or even stop the breakdown of solids contained in your septic tank.

How often should my tank be pumped?

Depending on how many people live in the house, and how big your tank is you should probably have your tank pumped every 3 years. If you have 5 people in your house and only have a 1200-gallon tank you may want to do it more often, say every 2 years. If there is just one of you then you may be able to go about 5 years. An easy way to tell if you need your tank pumped is by having risers installed on your tank for easy access for inspection. All you would have to do is pop the top and see if the solids and toilet paper have built up if they have, give us a call.

Where is my tank located?

You may be able to find the lids or manhole covers for your septic tank by gently tapping a steel rod into the ground starting about 10 feet from the point where the pipe leaves your house. You can also wait for a light snowfall and observe where the snow melts first. Sometimes your local county health department may have a drawing of your septic tank and drainfield in their files.

Warning Signs of Septic System Trouble?

Some or all of these symptoms could indicate trouble with your system.

  • Odors, surface sewage, wet spots, around the drainfield area.
  • Plumbing or septic tank back-ups.
  • Slow draining fixtures (not due to a local clogging).
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.

If you notices any of these trouble signs it is a good idea to call us here at Hartland Septic and schedule an inspection before your system fails and it’s to late!