Whether your home or vacation property is located in French River or Burk’s Falls it’s important for you to know how your septic system works and how you can get the longest life out of your new or existing septic tank system.
Septic Tank Services
How long do septic systems last?
are designed to provide long-term, effective treatment of household waste when operated and maintained properly. However, most systems that fail prematurely are due to improper maintenance. Less serious problems are usually with plumbing (such as pipe blockages from tree roots growing into the pipe). Sometimes, the septic tank, although durable, can deteriorate or have other structural problems. The most serious problems are the result of a clogged drainfield.
What is the replacement or reserve area?
This is an area that may be used for replacing or expanding the drainfield. It must meet the same criteria, such as acceptable soils, setbacks, etc., as a regular drain-field and should be protected in the same way.
What happens when a septic system fails? How can I tell?
Usually when a septic system fails, the drainfield is not functioning properly. When a septic tank fails, solids can pass to the drainfield, clogging the pipes.
This causes sinks and toilets to back up in the house. Other signs include: slow draining toilets and drains, an odor of sewage, wet area on or near the drainfield, or contaminated well water.
How can I prevent a septic failure?
Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! If your system has been properly designed, sited, and installed, the rest is up to you. Inspect your system annually and pump as needed (usually every 3-5 years), avoid excess water use, and watch what you put down the drain and flush down the toilet.
Can my septic system contaminate my well and nearby streams and water bodies?
Yes, particularly if the effluent is not adequately treated, as in a failing system. Untreated effluent is a health hazard and can cause many human diseases. Once this untreated effluent enters the groundwater, you and your neighbor’s wells can be contaminated. Also, if this sewage reaches nearby streams or water bodies, shellfish beds and recreational swimming areas may also be jeopardized.
How often should I have the tank pumped?
How often you need to pump depends on the size of the tank, the number of people in the household, and the amount and type of solids. A septic tank should be inspected annually to check for needed repairs and pumped as needed, usually every 3 to 5 years. Some alternative systems that are more complex may need pumping more frequently. If you are unsure if your tank needs pumping, have it inspected and get a recommendation for how many years you can go between pumping. Write this schedule down on a maintenance chart or where you keep your maintenance records and stick to it!
Why should I care if my septic system is failing?
Because septic systems are out of sight, many homeowners don’t realize there may be a problem until their system is already failing. The most common cause of failure is lack of maintenance. Here are 3 reasons to care for your septic system:
- Save money. A failing septic system can be expensive to repair or replace. You can protect yourself against costly surprises through regular preventative actions like inspections and pump-outs of your system and by learning the do’s and don’ts of septic care.
- Protect the health of your family and neighbors. A failing septic system can release inadequately treated household wastewater and offensive odors, often right in your backyard. Human wastewater contains disease-carrying organisms and can pose health risks to your family and your neighbors; untreated wastewater can transfer diseases such as dysentery, hepatitis, andtyphoid fever to animals and humans.
- Protect water quality. Humans and wildlife both depend on clean water. A septic system uses the environment to treat wastewater, but may release untreated or partially treated wastewater if the system fails. Inadequately treated water can pollute our streams, lakes, and groundwater, some of which are drinking water supplies. Failing systems also leak excessive nutrients and bacteria to streams, lakes, and the ocean, destroying plant and animal habitat, closing beaches, and hurting the fishing industry