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What is a septic system?

A Septic System is a highly efficient biological system which can effectively digest and disperse your household sewage and other organic wastes.

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What is a septic system's purpose?

Removal of solids. As sewage enters the septic tank, its rate of flow is reduced so that the larger solids sink to the bottom or rise to the surface. These solids are retained in the tank and the clarified effluent with suspended and dissolved solids is discharged.

Bacterial action. The solids and the liquids in the tank are partially decomposed by bacteria and other natural processes. These bacteria are called anaerobic because they thrive in the absence of free oxygen. This decomposition of sewage under the anaerobic conditions is termed 'septic' , hence the name of the system (and the cause of the odor).

Sludge and scum storage. Sludge is the accumulation of solids at the bottom of the tank, while scum is a partially submerged material of floating solids that may form at or near the surface. Space must be provided in the tank to store these residues during the intervals between cleaning. Otherwise, the sludge and scum will eventually be scoured from the tank and will clog the leach field and receiving soil. Periodic cleaning of your tank is essential to its proper function.

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How often should I have my septic system pumped or cleaned?

Your tank should be pumped out at least every two to three years.

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How can I tell if my system is failing?

Check for the following symptoms:

  • Septic surfacing in yard
  • Strong or bad odors
  • Slow flushing
  • Gurgling
  • Over flow at washing machine hookup, shower or toilet.
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What can I do to help lengthen the life of my septic system?

  • Minimize or eliminate use of sink 'disposal' units which grind up food wastes and place a burden of your septic tank.
  • Don't stack firewood or place storage sheds or other structures over your system.
  • Don't use colored toilet paper, it does not break down in the tank as rapidly as white paper.
  • Spread out laudry washing throughout the week, versus doing it all in one day. This could overload the system. A good rule of thumb is doing 2 - 3 loads per day.
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