Septic System FAQ

Q: How often should I pump my septic tank?
A: Regular pumping is of vital importance to your system's health. We recommend that you pump your system every other year in most instances, but the proper interval is based upon actual system use, size, and current condition and age. Families who do a lot of laundry, have a garbage disposal and/or have high water use should pump more frequently while systems that are not used often can go longer between pump outs.
Video: How often I should I pump my septic tank?


Q: Why should I pump my septic tank?
A: A septic tank is designed to separate the liquid from the solid material. This prevents solid material from reaching your Soil Absorption System (leaching field etc.). In a properly functioning septic tank the liquid level maintains a fairly constant level, with the solid material settling to the bottom of the tank, forming a sludge layer, lighter solids and grease float to the top forming a scum layer with the clarified liquid flowing out to your SAS. The sludge and scum layers build up over time and need to be removed. Build up is dependent on use, health of the system, frequency of pumping and existence of a garbage disposal, grease and/or other harmful conditions. The removal of build up of these materials is the main purpose of pumping and care must be taken to remove all of it.
Video: Why should I pump my septic tank?


Q: What is the cost of a new system?
A: Unfortunately this question cannot be answered as each system is different. Septic systems are designed based on site specific conditions that are determined by the soil conditions and design requirements. It is impossible to determine the cost of installation until a plan for your site has been approved. Please call us to discuss your particular circumstances.


Q: What is Title 5 and how does it impact me as a homeowner?
A: Title V is a Massachusetts law which regulates septic systems. A Title V Inspection is a report done by a certified Title V Technician. The report is a documentation of the condition of the system at the time of the inspection. This involves locating, exposing and inspecting the system components for their condition and functionality. Systems are deemed to pass, fail or have a conditional pass (a repair is required in order to achieve a pass designation) based upon guidelines set forth by the MA D.E.P.. A passing Title V is good for two years, or if pumping is done annually before the anniversary date of the Title V, it extends by another year and is good for three years.


Q: How can I prolong the life of my septic system?
A: In addition to regularly scheduled pump outs the health of your system is adversely affected by grease, garbage disposals, fabric softeners, and high concentrations of bleach and certain medications. Grease interferes with the operation of your septic tank and soil absorption system; prevent grease from reaching your septic system and prolong the life of your system. Garbage disposals increase the likelihood of solid material reaching your soil absorption system. Increase the frequency of your pump outs if you use your garbage disposal. A septic system develops "good bacteria" that helps to break down the solid material. Allowing any of these materials into your septic system can disrupt the bacteria in your system and hinder the break down of solids. If you cannot avoid these chemicals consider using a chemical additive such as Bio-clean. Ask your technician about these bacterial agents. Protect your most valuable investment, your home, and maintain your septic system. Proper maintenance, including regular pumping and chemical treatments, can prolong the life of your system and avoid costly repairs and replacement costs.


Q: Is bacteria good or bad for your system?
A: A properly functioning septic system depends on some bacteria being present to aide in the breakdown of solid material. Bacterial agents such as Bio-Clean can aide in the production of good bacteria when needed.


Q: What is a leach field and/or SAS?
A: A leach field is a type of S.A.S. or Soil Absorption System. The SAS is the means by which the liquid from your tank is introduced back into the soil. There are many different types of SAS; leaching fields, leaching trenches and chambers are the most common but all have the same general function.


Q: What's the life expectancy of a septic system and how can I increase the life of my system?
A: There is no way to anticipate the number of years a system will last but most systems function for many, many years. Regular pumping of the entire contents of the septic tank, including all the solid material, inspection of Tee's and Filters to ensure they are installed and functioning properly and maintaining proper bacterial growth will help prolong your system's life. Common, but preventable, causes of system failure include; solid material reaching the SAS, missing Tee's or filters, garbage disposals, grease, feminine products/diapers, abundance of bleach, medications and harmful chemicals. Other causes of failure include some conditions beyond ones control such as; high groundwater, poor soils, improper installation and poor maintenance.


Q: Is it possible to repair a septic system and avoid the costs of total replacement?
A: System components can be repaired or replaced if approved by the Board of Health. If a Title V is done and the system is classified as failed then the entire system must be replaced.


Q: What factors come into play when designing a new system?
A: Systems are designed based on site specific conditions such as; onsite soils, available space, and distance from existing; structures, lot lines, wells, wetlands, and landscaping features, and the number of bedrooms along with customer preferences (when possible).


Q: What is the process and timeline for new system installation?
A: The first step in new system design is to contract with a civil engineer. The engineer then sets up a soil testing date with the excavation crew and the Board of Health. Deep holes are dug and the soil is tested to determine where on the property the system can go and what type of system will work best in the space available. Plans are developed and submitted to the Board of Health and any other regulatory agencies required based on the onsite conditions (Conservation Commission, MA DEP) Installation is done based upon the approved plans. Typical timeline can be 2-3 weeks to coordinate a soil testing date, 2-3 weeks for plan development, 30-60 days for Board of Health approval, and 1-2 weeks for system installation. When approval from Conservation Commission or DEP is also required you can expect to add another month or two to this timeline.

an image Rodenhiser Excavating, Incorporated
70 Bartzak Dr.
Holliston, MA 01746

Email: [ info AT rodenhiser DOT biz ]

Toll-free: (866) EMPTY-IT
Phone: (508) 429-9553
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