Septic System FAQs

Got septic tank questions? We have answers!  From preventing backups to increasing longevity we have answers to your most frequently asked septic tank questions. Just click the + sign in the orange square for the full answer and details.

Have your installer make a drawing (to scale) that shows the location of your tank and drainfield in relation to your home. This will help guide your service provider should any repairs be necessary. You’ll also need a diagram of your septic system when you are considering any home renovations, landscaping projects, or new parking places and driveways.
Yes, particularly if you have an alternative system. A service provider is your best defense against expensive repairs and/or emergency problems.
Not very often. An average family of four living in a three-bedroom house will need their septic tank pumped every three to five years.
This is never advisable and is against most municipal codes. Do not build any additions, pools, driveways over a tank. Also, do not build or plant on top of your drainfield.
NO! Though septic systems are safe for your family, opening the septic tank without professional training can expose you to dangerous gases and bacteria. Call a certified and trained septic professional if you detect any problems in your system.
A conventional septic system has a tank (typically 750 to 2000 gallons) and a leach field (perforated pipe buried shallow in an extended area).
Septic tanks may be made of concrete, fiberglass or a plastic.
Experts disagree. A properly maintained septic system discharges treated effluent directly into the ground, where its close contact with soil results in additional purification. A central sewerage system discharges very large volumes of treated effluent into a body of water at one location.
In the United States, local jurisdictions typically regulate onsite wastewater treatment systems.
For situations where the ground permiability is not suitable for a traditional leach field a mound system may be needed.
In other situations where ground permiability is not suitable an ET system may be required. In such a system, all the effluent is contained to a small area and it either evaporates into the air or is used by plants and transpires out through their leaves.
When the pores of undisturbed soil surrounding the leach field clog, the effluent cannot seep into the ground.
A stinky area of wet, soggy soil, sometimes with visible water, may appear. Sewage may back up into the house and toilets may not flush properly.

Some last for several decades. Most do not. Typically a septic tank gets pumped every 3-5 years. This can depend on the size and usage.

It can be but isn’t always. It can be a quick fix for a plumber if it’s a clogged pipe or drains. But, if the problems persist and if you haven’t performed maintenance on your septic system in over 6 months, it may be time to call a septic professional.

This is normal. Most tanks will have from 1 to 3 covers. These covers are for:

  • One for the inlet, which connects your house pipes to the septic tank.
  • One from the septic tank. It should be located right in the center of the tank.
  • One for the outlet, where the wastewater from the septic tank enters the drain field.

All of these should be inspected at the time of a routine maintenance inspection.

The garbage disposal is there to help you clear the drain when there is an unavoidable blockage. Should you rely on it every time that you do the dishes? No.

Why not? You want to keep as much food out of your septic system as possible because food particles do not break down like the waste intended for your septic tank. They end up staying in the septic tank rather than being pushed through to the drain field. This means you’ll end up pumping your septic system more often than you should.

And when you put added strain on your septic system, it will not last as long.

A septic filter (aka effluent filter) is installed on the side of your septic tank that drains into the drain field. It prevents solid waste from leaving with the wastewater into the ground. Effluent filters help prevent sewage contamination in the surrounding property and water source.

In Florida, yes. You must have an effluent filter.

Schedule regular maintenance with your trusted septic professional. We suggest that your septic tank be inspected annually to check for any necessary repairs or pumps.

A drain field is the last step in your septic system. It is comprised of a series of pipes (between 20-40 feet long). Each pipe is punctured with small holes that allow wastewater to seep into the ground. After the water exits the pipes, it is naturally filtered back into the ground through layers of soil or gravel.

Your septic technician will inspect the overall health of your septic system. After this, s/he will pump out the entire contents of your septic tank, eventually cleaning the effluent filter. The technician should check the outlets to the septic tank, as well.

If you have just had a pump or an inspection, you may notice some odors temporarily. But, they shouldn’t last long.

However, if you have persisting odors coming from your septic system, you should call your septic technician to inspect it immediately.

Remember, always leave the leave raw sewage up to the professionals. Investigating and entering your septic tank on your own can be extremely dangerous.

Yes. They can affect the septic treatment process. Some products are harmful to the effluent bacteria that decompose the solid waste in the septic tank.