Frequently Asked Questions















What is a Septic System?

A septic system is a small, on-site treatment and disposal system buried in the the ground.  A typical septic system has 4 main components: a pipe form the home (a.k.a outlet pipe), a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil.  All of the household waste water exits your home through a pipe to the septic tank.  The tank holds the waste water long enough to allow solids to settle (forming sludge) and oil grease to float to the surface (as scum).  Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area.  Newer tanks generally have risers with lids at the ground surface to allow  easy location, inspection, and pumping of the tank.

How often should I have my septic tank pumped?

To prevent build up, sludge and floating scum need to be removed through periodic pumping of the septic tank.  Having your tank pumped every 3 to 5 years is the best and cheapest way to keep your septic system in good working order.

How do I locate my septic system?

In most cases there should be a diagram of the system that is available at the local Health Department.  The plumbing inside your house can indicate the general area in which the tank and buried components lie.  Look for a large (4" diameter) pipe that protrudes through the foundation.  This is the outlet pipe that leads to the septic tank.   You can also look for riser lid(s) or a manhole lid(s).

What are the signs of a failing system?

Slow drainage when flushing toilets.   Water backing up into sinks, toilet, tubs and washing machines.

Unusual "gurgling' sounds when running water or flushing toilets.

Noticeably soggy areas of the lawn or soil.

Depressions forming in the soil.

Unpleasant odors in or around the house.

Can I flush anything I want?

No, toilets aren't trash cans.  Don't flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper.






                     Need additional information? 

Try these sites:


www.epa.gov/septicsmart

www.soil.ncsu.edu/publications/Soilfacts/AG439-13/

www.nesc.wvu.edu/pdf/ww/septic/pl_fall04.pdf