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Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive about septic systems, as well as just some general septic related questions and answers.

A septic system is an Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal System that is decentralized- not a local, centralized wastewater management facilities. Septic systems use nature and technology to treat household wastewater.

A typical household septic system is a conventional, gravity flow system that consists of a septic tank and a drainfield.

  1. Wastewater from your toilet, sink, shower, tub, dishwasher, and washing machine exits your home via gravity and a pipe that leads to your septic system.
  2. Wastewater first enters the pretreatment portion of the septic system (the septic tank) where contaminants are removed. Sludge settles to the bottom of the tank, and scum (fat, grease, and oil) floats on top. Many new septic systems use multiple tanks to improve the removal of contaminants.
  3. Wastewater, now largely sludge and scum free, enters the drainfield for final treatment and dispersal.
  4. The wastewater seeps into the drainfield's gravel and soil which provides most of the treatment.
  5. Microbes break down any solids and kill any bacteria and pathogens.

Chances are you know if your home has a septic system. But if you don't, here are some signs:

  • Your neighbors have septic systems
  • Your home uses well water
  • Your waterline doesn't have a water meter
  • You don't get a water bill
  • Or your water bill does not have a sewer charge
  • You county's department of health has septic plans and/or construction documents (as-built drawings) on file

If you're still not sure if your home has a septic system we would be more than happy to help.

The quick answer is every 3 to 5 years. However, it really depends on:

  1. The size of your household
  2. The size of your septic tank
  3. How your household uses water

Do you do all of your laundry on one day of the week? When you don't space out your water usage (washing dishes, washing clothes, showers, etc.) you don't give it the time it needs to process your wastewater. So spread out your water usage!

In addition to regular septic pumping and inspection, there are a number of ways households can help keep their septic systems in good working order.

  1. Don't rely too heavily on your garbage disposal, they often lead to significant increases of sludge and scum in your septic tank. If you do use your garbage disposal a lot, you'll need to schedule septic pumping more often.
  2. Household chemicals can kill the living organisms that are essential to wastewater treatment. Oil-based paints, solvents, and cleaners should not be rinsed down the drain or flushed down the toilet.

  3. Some plumbing fixtures, especially old and outdated fixtures, use too much water. Toilets, showers, water softeners, and other appliances can cause excessive flow to drainfields.
  4. Some high-water demand appliances can have their wastewater diverted from your septic system
  5. Plumbing leaks also lead to excessive flow to drainfields. Leaks should be found and repaired as soon as possible. Pace Septic Service was founded by the owner of Pace Plumbing, a full-service plumber who can address all of your plumbing concerns.

Regardless of whether you have a septic system or not (but especially if you do), below is a list of some items that should never be rinsed down any of your sinks or drains, or flushed down your toilet!

  • Fat, grease, and oil
  • Coffee grounds
  • Hair
  • Floss
  • Hygiene products
  • Cigarette butts
  • Paper towels
  • Paint
  • Paint thinners
  • Varnishes
  • Pesticides

It's not a complete list, but it's some of the most common items mistakenly allowed down household drains. It might be best to just remember what is okay: waste-water and toilet paper.

If you even suspect there is a problem with your septic system it is always highly recommended that you call a professional. That being said, here are some common signs of septic system problems.

  • Foul odor from your sinks or drains
  • Multiple household drains backing up
  • Strong odor from your septic tank manhole and/or drainfield.
  • Bright green and spongy grass above your drain field even during drier weather.

We cannot stress enough that septic system problems can exist without signs and calling a professional is always the safest solution. This is just one of many reasons it is important to have your septic system inspected, pumped, and cleaned every 3 to 5 years.

Yes. When septic systems are poorly installed or not properly maintained, studies have shown that septic systems can contaminate ground water with disease-causing pathogens and nitrates.

To determine if your home's septic system was properly designed and installed you can start with your local county's department of health. Depending on the year your home was built, they should have the plans and permits for when your septic system was installed. If they do not have the documents because of the age of your home, or worse, because the contractor did the installation without a permit, you should have a professional septic contractor (and your county septic inspector) inspect your whole septic system.

Once you know that you have a properly installed septic tank, you must ensure that you maintain it. You should note the dates of your septic pumping service calls and notify your septic cleaning company of the last time it was pumped so that they can help you determine how often you should have your septic system pumped. Septic inspections should happen regardless of septic pumping every 3 to 4 years.