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Q. When scheduling your cleaning: know what size your tank is.
A. This can be obtained from your county health department by calling and asking for your septic permit, some require your property ID number. Be sure the truck is large enough to empty the tank completely.
Our trucks are 2800 gallons, 3600 and 4600 gallons, which allow us to empty your tank completely, and in most cases, your neighbors'. If you refer a neighbor, and they schedule for the same day as you, ask us about our discounts.
Q. Does the truck need to drive on your yard?
A. Our trucks both have 250-feet of hose which allows us to park on the drive or the street.
Q. Does the tank need to be dug?
A. If it needs to be dug, this doesn't require a big hole, usually about 2-feet around. A majority of tanks have 3 access points, one lid on each end at the inlet and outlet, which are used to inspect the baffles, and one in the middle for cleaning the tank.
The tank should be cleaned only through the center lid to prevent knocking off the baffle and have complete access to the tank to ensure all waste is removed.
Q. Are you on a weight restricted road?
A. During the winter months, weight restrictions are usually posted on rural roads. These restrictions are posted from January 15 till April 15. If there is an emergency, the road commissioners will usually issue a permit, some at a cost to you.
If it's not an emergency, we can wait till the restrictions are taken off.
Q. Do you have a riser?
A. A riser is placed on top of the tank to give access to clean out the lid, which eliminates digging. In the winter months, this also eliminates the extra cost of digging with a backhoe due to frozen ground.
Q. How often should you clean your tank?
A. The number of people and the size of your tank will determine how often your tank needs cleaning. A 1500-gallon tank used by 4 people needs cleaning every 4 years. If you have a garbage disposal, we recommend every 3 years. The garbage disposal is equivalent to an additional person.
If you're wondering whether your tank needs cleaning, we do septic evaluations to determine if it needs cleaning. The way we determine this is with the use of a sludge judge. If there is 25% or more total solids, we recommend a cleaning. The cost of cleaning is $200 to $300.
If cleaning is done every 4 years over a 20-year period, you will spend around $1500 on maintenance. The cost of replacing your system is between $4000 up to $10,000. It's like changing your car oil; regular maintenance prevents high repair bills.
Q. Do you need to use an additive?
A. We don't recommend the use of additives. Our septic care booklet has an article from a major university that did research on this and doesn't recommend the use of additives. Consider this – If you put 1 quart a month in your tank as recommended at $10 per month over a 4-year period, you spend $480.
The cost for cleaning is less than that which saves you money. Also, the tank is checked for any repairs that may be needed.
A. Many homeowners believe that they don't ever have to pump their septic tanks because they don't have any problems. When you wait for the problem to occur, it's likely to cost you more than if you just had it pumped on a regular basis.
Think of your septic system as a garbage can; when it gets full, you empty it. The same goes for a septic tank - they do get full, and they do need to be emptied!
Q. How does a septic system work?
A. All the water that comes out of your house goes directly into your septic tank. Washing machine, dishwasher, bathrooms, showers – anything that goes down a drain goes into your septic tank.
A septic tank is designed to hold water long enough for all the grease, fats to float to the top, and any solids to settle at the bottom forming sludge.
This sludge does not just magically disappear. After so many years, it begins to build up. If you continue to let this build up and ignore your septic, it will either back up into your house, causing a very unsightly mess on your floor, which may add to your cost; or solids will begin to flow out into your drain field, eventually ruining it.
Consider that a pumping costs on average about $300, a new drain field costs anywhere from $5 to $10,000! That's equal to about 33 pumping, which is more than you will probably ever need.
So, no matter what your Grandpa told you about septic systems, you DO need to pump them!
Q. How often should my tank be pumped?
A. Depending on how many people live in the house, and how big your tank is, you should probably have your tank pumped every 3 years. If you have 5 people in your house and only have a 1200-gallon tank, you may want to do it more often, say every 2 years. If there is just one of you, then you may be able to go about 5 years.
An easy way to tell if you need your tank pumped is by having risers installed on your tank for easy access for inspection. All you would have to do is pop the top and see if the solids and toilet paper have built up; if they have, give us a call.
Q. What can I flush down my toilet?
A. Despite what the package may say, some things you just shouldn't flush. Baby wipes, baby diapers, grown-up wipes, tampons, tampon applicators, dental floss, Q-tips, cigarette butts, grease, toys – none of this stuff should go into your septic tank. Baby wipes and tampons have ruined more drain fields than I can count!
I know they say they are flushable, but they don't break down like organic material does. Tampons swell to 10 times their size, and easily clog pipes and drain fields. These things were meant to go in the garbage can; please put them there.
Q. Do I even have a septic tank?
A. If you live in the country or outside the city limits, most likely you have a septic tank. If you don't, get a monthly sewer bill from the city; most likely you have a septic tank.
If you just don't know, call us; we'll come to the house and either find the septic tank, or find that you're on the city sewer. If you're just buying a house, please ask for a septic inspection. This way, you know what you have or what you don't have.