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Septic Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: How can I SAVE MONEY?

A: Many homeowners forget to maintain their septic system simply because it’s something you don’t think about, out of sight, out of mind. By the time something happens to bring it to the forefront, many years have passed, and the damage is done. Our Maintenance Program eliminates the need for the homeowner to “remember” to maintain their system. In the long run our program saves the homeowner money from having to replace the septic system from pre-mature failure, and helps to get the maximum life out of the septic system.

 

Q: Why do you recommend routine maintenance (every 2-3 years) when I have never had a problem in over 10 years and have never had my tank pumped?
A: While many homeowners have gone many years past the recommended maintenance period without a problem, damage is slowly being done. The purpose of the tank is to hold the solids that natural bacteria can not break down. Those solids accumulate over time to a point where the tank no longer has room to contain it all, therefore the solids make their way to the drainfield where they plug up the pores in the ground causing poor drainage and eventually septic system failure.

 

Q: How long will my septic system last?
A: All septic systems have a finite life, meaning they will eventually fail. How long a system will last from its first day of usage depends on a lot of factors starting with proper sizing and installation, soil composition, water table or water table change throughout the years, trees and subsequently tree root intrusion, amount of use and or abuse, and last but not least proper routine maintenance and pumping.

 

Q: How much does it cost to replace my septic system?
A: The cost to replace a septic system varies greatly. Sometimes a direct replacement of the drainfield can be done for a little as $4,000 – $5,000. Other times an engineer must be hired to design a new system which adds to the price. In some situations the requirements are now different from the original system installation and a more complex septic system is now required driving up costs to $12,000 to $15,000 or more. Many factors in between also vary the price greatly. And don’t forget the cost to re-landscape your yard.

 

Q: Am I required to have my tank maintained?
A: Although there are not laws requiring maintenance and inspection just yet; the NJ EPA and local health departments highly recommend proper routine inspection and maintenance to help prevent ground water contamination and water resources due to the nitrogen, phosphorus and disease-causing bacteria and viruses found in household waste water.

 

Q: Does anyone have to be home in order to have my septic pumped?
A: No, the homeowner does not have to be home. Our service professionals are able to locate the tank and pump it. When we are finished, our office can call you with the amount to be charged on your credit card.

 

Q: What if I can’t locate my septic tank or lid?
A: Our professionals can locate the tank / lid with various methods including probing the ground. Years of experience and thousands of septic jobs also help.

 

Q: What is the main access lid?
A: Most access lids are approximately 32 inches in diameter and made of concrete. A lot of newer systems have a steel man hole lid. Some others have plastic lids.

 

Q: What if my lid is buried underground or is deep?
A: Our service tech can dig up the lid for you. There is usually not an extra charge for this service if it’s only a few inches or takes just a few minutes. If your lid is deep or takes some time to access, there can be extra charges for digging. If your lid is more than a few inches in the ground, we recommend having us install a septic riser.

 

Q: What is a septic riser?
A: A septic riser is a heavy duty piece of corrugated plastic pipe that we would measure and cut to the right length to bring the septic lid up to ground level for easier access in the future. It is very popular for homeowners that have lids 1 foot or more underground. It will save you money on digging charges in the future and is much easier to access in the winter if the ground freezes.

 

Q: How do you know how big my tank is?
A: Our service tech can usually tell the size of the tank once they empty it from experience. Also our trucks are equipped with clear sight glasses so our service tech can monitor the gallons removed from your tank.

 

Q: What are the PVC pipes sticking up in my yard?
A: Some septic systems have PVC inspection pipes around the drainfield to monitor the liquid level in the drainfield. Also, sometimes the inlet and/or outlet baffle is piped up to ground level to inspect the level or to gain access in case of a clog.

 

Q: Can I get my tank pumped through the 4″ PVC pipe?
A: It is not a good idea to pump the tank through the inlet and/or outlet pipe. To properly remove all liquid and solids, and to inspect the baffles, it is recommended to remove the main access lid.

 

Q: What is effluent?

A: Effluent is the term used for the waste water produced from your household.

 

Q: What is an effluent filter?

A: It is a filter made primarily of plastic placed on the outlet side of the septic tank to help catch the larger solid particles that would otherwise have gone out to the drainfield. Its purpose is to help prolong the life the septic system. Not every system has a filter.

 

Q: How often should I clean the effluent filter?

A: The DEP recommends replacing or cleaning the filter annually.

 

Q: Can I clean the effluent filter myself?

A: While it’s not terribly difficult to clean or replace the filter, it can be a messy job that is best left to professionals.

 

Q: What is the difference between a septic tank and a cesspool?

A: A septic tank is a pre-cast concrete tank that is brought on site and installed along with a drainfield (leach field). A cesspool usually consists of individual curved blocks stacked on one another to create a cylindrical hollow in the ground. Cesspools receive and treat both solids and liquids and usually do not have a drainfield. Cesspools are no longer able to be built by law in the state of NJ.

 

Q: What is a septic tank alarm?

A: Some systems are equipped with a septic tank alarm or high level alarm. The purpose of the alarm is to warn the homeowner of a potential problem before effluent or waste water backs up into the house. The alarm is usually located in the basement, garage or sometimes a closet.

 

Q: What is the big mound in my yard for?

A: The mound is actually a way for your drainfield to be moved further from the water table. In some areas the water table is just too high for a conventional gravity system, so a mound system is used to gain more distance from the drainfield pipes to the water table to ensure that the effluent passes through the proper amount of soil before returning to the water table.

 

Q: What is an injector pump or sewer pump?

A:  Some systems are equipped with a pump / float set-up that is used to pump the effluent into the drainfield. It is required on systems in which the drainfield placement will not allow gravity to transfer the effluent from the tank into the drainfield. Therefore a pump is used to push the wastewater to the drainfield. The pump is placed in a separate tank between the main septic tank and the drainfield. The tank, called a pump chamber or dosing tank, is also usually equipped with an alarm.

 

Q: My system has multiple tanks, what is the purpose?

A: Some systems have 2 or more tanks for the purpose of catching and holding solids. Multiple tank systems are generally installed on larger homes anticipated of having more waste water flow than a single tank could handle.

 

Q: Should I have all the tanks pumped regularly on a multiple tank system?

A: It is recommended that during the pumping of the primary tank, the secondary tank(s) should be inspected to determine if pumping is required. Usually the secondary tank(s) will not need to be emptied as often as the primary tank.