Frequently Asked Questions
Our FAQ page is here to help answer many of the more common questions regarding Septic Systems. Should you have a question that is not listed, please feel free to reach out to us, and we will be glad to respond directly.
- What is a Septic As-built?
- How do I find the location of my Septic Tank lids and other Septic Components?
- Will conserving water help my Septic System?
- What items should not be disposed of in my Septic System?
- Can I use my garbage disposal with my Septic System?
- What does it mean when I have slow drains?
- What should I do if my Septic System backs up?
- The power went out, and my Septic System uses a pump, what should I do?
- Should I install a filter in my Septic Tank?
- How often should I clean the filter in my Septic Tank?
- Can I have the lids of my Septic Tank installed to the surface?
- What does it mean when my Septic Alarm is going off?
- I am getting ready to sell my home, am I required to have my Septic System inspected?
- Can I plant anything over my drain field or reserve drain field?
- Can I drive or park on my drain field?
- What is the drain field replacement or reserve area?
- Do I have to pump my Septic Tank as often if I use additives?
- How often should I pump out my Septic Tank?
- How often should I pump out my Pump Tank?
- How much does a new septic system / drain field cost?
- What is the difference between a drain field and leach field?
- Where do I find a Septic designer?
What is a Septic As-built?
A Septic Asbuilt is the drawing of your Septic System identifying the location of septic system components in relation to structures on the property. The Septic Asbuilt is typically completed when the Septic System is installed or repaired by the Septic Designer or Installer.
How do I find the location of my Septic Tank lids and other Septic Components?
Here are a few steps to locate your Septic Tank lids and other components. In most cases, there is an Asbuilt drawing available from your local Health District. Most local Health Departments have an online tool to search for your Asbuilt. Use the links provided to get to the local Health Department in your County and follow the instruction given to search for your Septic Asbuilt. Snohomish County Asbuilt Lookup or King County Asbuilt Lookup. If there is a drawing on record, review the location(s) of the lids or components that you need to locate. If no drawing is on record, you can try to start from the crawl space to find what side of the house the pipe exits the foundation. At that point, you can probe the ground in a grid pattern with a metal rod and attempt to locate the tank. We can use a radio transmitter that is flushed down a toilet and then by following the signal; we can locate the Septic Tank. If other components need to be located we can locate those as well either with probing, electronic locating as well as other methods.
Will it help my Septic System if I reduce water usage?
Yes, reducing your water usage will help extend the life of your Septic System and keep it working properly. Every Septic System when installed was designed for a specific amount of water per day. This amount is related to the type of soil and number of bedrooms in the house.
What items should not be disposed of in my Septic System?
There are several items that should never be disposed of in your Septic System. Some of these items include grease, medications, paint, oils, gasoline, solvents, feminine hygiene products, condoms, napkins, paper towels, flushable wipes and flushable cat litter. For a downloadable sheet with a complete list of these items and other Septic System care methods, please click here.
Can I use my garbage disposal with my Septic System?
It is not recommended to use your garbage disposal, however; many homes are fitted with them when built. It is recommended to pump more frequently to help reduce the damage a garbage disposal can cause to your Septic System. It is also recommended to make sure you have an effluent filter installed and clean it regularly as the use of a garbage disposal will cause the effluent filter to become clogged more frequently.
What does it mean when I have slow drains?
Slow drains can be one of the first indicators you will notice that your septic system is having troubles. It can be many different issues with your septic system but the most common of those being a septic tank overdue for pumping or a filter needing to be cleaned. It is recommended to call us, and we will be glad to help troubleshoot your system with you.
What should I do if my Septic System backs up?
If your Septic System is backing up, you should stop all water usage in the house immediately and call for service. A backing up Septic System can indicate one or more of the following issues such as a clogged or broken main line, clogged effluent filter or even a failing drain field, either way, we can help you get your system back on track.
The power went out, and my Septic System uses a pump, what should I do?
If your Septic System uses one or more pumps, anytime the power goes out you should be conservative with water usage. The system should have some storage capacity built into the components. However, some systems that are older may have a very small storage capacity for situations like power outages. It is also common that once power is restored an alarm may sound. If this is the case, it is always a good idea to call once you have silenced the alarm. We can provide you additional details on how to handle the situation depending upon the type of system you have at your home.
Should I install a filter in my Septic Tank?
Yes, a filter is strongly recommended for almost every system type. A filter significantly reduces the number of solids that would normally clog up the drain field, which will extend the life of the Septic System.
How often should I clean the filter in my Septic Tank?
Most manufacturers recommended cleaning the effluent filter in your Septic Tank every 6 months for proper operation. Cleaning intervals can vary depending upon the type of filter, household size, household habits as well as other factors. It is always recommended to have some regular filter cleaning to prevent the Septic Tank from backing up into the house.
Can I have the lids of my Septic Tank installed to the surface?
Yes, installing lids that come to the surface, also known as "risers," are extremely helpful in maintaining your septic system. They will save you money on pumping since digging will most likely not be required. They also make cleaning the filter (if installed) in the Septic Tank just a few minutes work. Typically the cost of the risers will pay for themselves after a few Septic Tank Pumping's depending upon how deep your septic system was originally installed.
What does it mean when my Septic Alarm is going off?
Typically the Septic Alarm indicates a high water level in the pump chamber. If this situation occurs, you should have your Septic System inspected immediately. On some newer systems, alarms can also indicate a low water level or a service issue of one or more of the installed components. In any event, it should most likely be inspected as soon as possible to prevent a potential backup or to incur additional costs. Feel free to contact us to help get your system back on track.
I am getting ready to sell my home, am I required to have my Septic System inspected?
Depending on what county you are located in there are different requirements for time of sale inspections. King County requires every property sale or property transfer to undergo a required inspection with a few exceptions that can be found here. Snohomish County does not currently require a property sale or property transfer to be inspected. However, nearly all lenders do require an inspection before closing on the sale. It is always a good idea to get the inspection done with plenty of time before any closing date to make sure if any repairs are needed there is time to get them completed without risking your sale.
Can I plant anything over my drain field or reserve drain field?
Typically grass is an ideal thing to plant over your drain field or reserve drain field. If the reserve drain field has never been de-brushed, it is typically perfectly fine to leave it native. The drain field, on the other hand, will likely suffer from being neglected with plants and trees growing over it. Plants and trees will take notice of the nutrient-rich effluent being discharged in your drain field and over time roots will develop either into or around the components not letting the effluent disperse properly. Eventually, problems will become noticed with lack of maintenance over the drain field.
Can I drive or park on my drain field?
No, it is not recommended to drive or park vehicles over the drain field. In very limited situations of light vehicles, usually, there is no long-term damage. However, with the use of plastics becoming more common in septic components such as gravelless chambers, plastic tanks, and the use of thin wall pipe, it is possible that even one time of driving over the drain field could depend upon the components used in your system.
What is the drain field replacement or reserve area?
The drain field replacement or reserve area is the area that is designated for the area that is suitable should your current drain field fail or need replacing. The reserve area is not always the only area that a replacement drain field can be placed, but it is the area that was designated due to many factors at the time of the original design.
Do I have to pump my Septic Tank as often if I use additives?
Yes, you still need to pump your Septic Tank just as often, even if you use additives. There is nothing that can replace pumping your Septic Tank to remove the sludge and scum from the tank. Additives in rare situations may be helpful, but in most Septic Systems there are enough bacteria naturally that it is not necessary.
How often should I pump out my Septic Tank?
The frequency of pumping out your Septic Tank can vary depending on several factors such as the size of the household, size of Septic Tank, garbage disposal usage, the age of the Septic System and sometimes other influences. Most households, however, fall between 2 and 4 years on average.
How often should I pump out my Pump Tank?
Pump Tanks typically do not get the accumulation of solids like Septic Tanks, but it is recommended to inspect the Pump Tank for solids every time your Septic Tank is pumped. On average most households with Pump Tanks should pump about every 3rd Septic Tank Pumping. Filters help reduce the frequency that the Pump Tank needs to be pumped out.
How much does a new Septic System / drain field cost?
A new Septic System / drain field is typically the most expensive appliance for your home. Although each system is individually designed for each site, there is a common range of septic system / drain field costs. We provide free quotes once you have a septic design in hand to get you an exact price. Depending upon if it is an existing home with a repair vs. a bare piece of property the costs can be significantly different. An existing septic system being repaired typically ranges from $6,000 to $20,000 depending upon site and soil conditions. A new system being installed typically ranges from $8,000 to $30,000 depending upon site and soil conditions. Of course, there can always be exceptions to these costs both on the high side and the low side, but this can at least give an idea of what the costs can be.
What is the difference between a drain field and a leach field?
The disposal area for a septic system has a few names for it such as a drain field or a leach field. Both mean the same thing and refer to the subsurface drains where the wastewater from your home is disposed. The soil is typically the final process that cleans and removes the contaminants before the water is recharged back into the environment.
Where do I find a septic designer?
We have several septic designers we work with on a regular basis. If you are in need of a recommendation in choosing a septic designer, we would be glad to provide you several referrals. Depending upon the area you are located, and the situation you are dealing with there might be a designer who is better suited for your situation. Feel free to contact us for a referral based on your situation.