Stright Sewage is committed to helping all our customers fully understand the importance of a quality septic system. The following are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule your cleaning, repair, installation, or inspection service, please give us a call. We look forward to speaking with you!
How do I maintain a septic system?
The best way to maintain a septic system is to have it regularly vac-pumped and checked to ensure the baffles are in place for operation. This reduces the amount of accumulated suspended solids that escape the tank and clog the leaching area. If your system contains a pump that lifts the scummy water from the tank to the leaching area, an alarm inside the house should sound when that pump needs servicing. After vac-pumping both tank and pump chamber, the electrical and mechanical components of the pump system can be checked and properly repaired.
How often should I have my septic system pumped?
Because of the rising costs of repairing and replacing septic system leaching areas, we recommend you have the tanks vac-pumped and checked once every year and just before any large numbers of guests are expected (30 or more people).
I'm buying a house. Should I have the septic system inspected?
Yes! We recommend the septic system be inspected before you buy any house. Septic system repairs or replacements can be very expensive. You should have all the information necessary before you finalize the purchase.
How do I know my septic system has failed?
If you see sewage water puddling or ponding over any portion of the septic system, then the system has failed to work properly. However, not all failures are general, meaning the entire system has failed. Often, a faulty distribution pipe, box or connection causes a "local" failure that is much easier to fix and at a much lower cost than installing a new leaching area. At Stright Sewage, we will thoroughly inspect the septic system to determine the type of failure before we recommend the appropriate repair.
How much does a new septic system cost?
An average complete septic system in this area can range from $10,000 to $40,000 or more. Obviously, it is wise to vac-pump the tank regularly and attempt to find possible local repairs before replacing the entire leaching area.
Are there any alternatives to a septic system?
Currently, under today's Connecticut State Health Codes, there are no alternatives to a complete septic system (septic tank and leaching area). However, other systems installed in older houses predate these codes and are "grandfathered." This means that as long as these grandfathered systems (cesspools, sand filters, etc.) are in good working condition, they can remain in place. However, once these systems fail or if the house is upgraded or enlarged, local health officials may insist that a modern septic system be installed.
How does a septic system work?
There are two major components to a septic system: the septic tank and the leaching area. The septic tank is usually made of heavy reinforced concrete. Occasionally, plastic ones are installed. The purpose of this tank is to fill up to design capacity (1,000; 1,250; 1,500 gallons, etc.), settle out and retain the solids (sewage, grease, soaps, etc.) with a series of baffles and overflow the liquids into the leaching area. The leaching area then absorbs this liquid waste and cleans it of harmful bacteria and remaining suspended solids. By the time this water makes its way back to groundwater, it is hopefully clean and drinkable. The reason we vac-pump our septic tanks is to remove the solid matter, check the tank's structural integrity and baffles, and make sure the liquid level is normal. The more often a tank is pumped, the cleaner and clearer the liquid is going to the leaching area and the longer the septic system will last.
What if I get an odor inside my house?
A septic system is constantly creating gasses that are supposed to be vented through the plumbing pipes in the house and up through the roof stacks. If you get an odor in the house, we recommend the following:
Check to make sure the odor is not a dead animal or rodent resulting from an exterminator's visit. These odors will remain fairly constant and will dissipate with time as the animal decays.
B. Run water in rarely used plumbing fixtures. Dried up traps will allow gases in the house before going up the roof stacks.
C. Replace any broken wax seals in the toilets. Any qualified plumber can do this work.
D. Sometimes raising the roof stacks can eliminate these odors.
E. If all of the above recommendations fail to remove the odor, we at Stright Sewage can rework the septic system pipe and venting to help prevent gases from entering the homes in the first place. However, this solution tends to be more expensive than others, so this should be the last resort.
How do I find my septic tank?
Plans of most septic systems are filed with local health departments. These plans will usually have measurements to the tank from various corners of the house. If plans are not available, we are equipped with steel bars and, if necessary, electronic devices used to find the septic tanks. Once found, State Codes now require the cleanout openings to be built up so that they are no more than 0-12" below the ground surface.
Sewage is backing up into my house. What do I do?
Accumulated solids in the septic tank are the usual cause for backups into the house. Vac-pumping, cleaning and checking the tank is the first thing that should be done. The sewer piping between the house and tank or inside the house may also have to be snaked to get water properly flowing.
Why are septic systems designed and sized according to bedrooms and not to bathrooms?
Septic systems are designed based upon water usage in the house. The more people occupying a house, the more water will be used. The most accurate way to determine occupancy in a house is by the bedroom count. State Health Codes assume two people per bedroom. Additional bathrooms may make life more convenient, but they do cause more water to be used in the house.