The design of the septic drain field is determined by the size of the dwelling that it serves and the soil conditions. The soil conditions would be tested by a method called a soil test (formerly perc test.) A licensed plumber is required to work with the local governing agency to design a system that conforms to these criteria.
What if my septic alarm goes on?
Typically, the alarm means there is a higher level of effluent than should be within the tank. But if it doesn't need pumping, it can mean a number of things: Plugged filter, bad pump or a bad switch. Make sure all related breakers are turned on or reset in the basement. If it doesn't turn back on, call us!
The alarm doesn't necessarily mean you need a pump, it most likely means you need us to troubleshoot it.
Should I add anything to my septic tank - like those commercials recommend?
Biological and chemical additives are not needed to aid or accelerate decomposition. At this time, there is no conclusive data to support the effectiveness of enzymes or any chemical treatment to rejuvenate a failing drain field. Some products are approved by the State of Wisconsin if they do not harm the soil absorption area or groundwater.
A septic system is built to take care of itself (unless it is failing).
Can garbage disposals be used with septic systems?
Yes, But use it wisely. They can double the amount of solids added to a septic tank. Try to avoid grease or slowly biodegradable products such as peelings and bones . Food that is not digested takes years to break down. Our bodies can do the process within hours or days! Septic systems are built for body waste. Consider installing a top-of-the-line disposal, which will grind waste into smaller particles that break down more quickly when they reach the system.
Risers get added to the tank as needed to ensure the manhole cover(s) are above the finish grade your yard will be.
Installing a filter can prolong the life of your septic system. Filters have been mandatory in all new systems since 1999.
**By Cleaning your filter often, you'll be familiar what is plugging it up and what to avoid putting down the drain.
Conserve water to reduce the load on the septic system. For example, do laundry throughout the week instead of all at once; use flow reducer nozzles on showers; install water-conserving commodes. Repair leaking or dripping pipes. Especially if you have a holding tank!
Tree roots that invade your septic system can do major damage. Keep trees away from the leach field. Trees with aggressive roots, such as willows, should be planted even farther away.
A soggy drain field can't handle waste effectively, so design landscaping, roof gutters, and foundation drains to divert excess water away from the septic system.
Never flush cat litter, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, paper towels, facial tissues, coffee grounds, cigarette butts, or similar items down the toilet. They'll quickly fill and clog your septic tank. Ask about getting a filter installed.
Use a lint trap on your wash machine discharge.
Do not overuse heavy cleaners, especially those containing bleach. They kill beneficial bacteria needed in the septic tank. Bacteria process helps break down effluent solids quickly.
Do not pour hazardous chemicals down the drain. They can harm your septic system and will eventually find their way into the groundwater.
Do not flush prescription drugs (solid or liquid) down the toilet or the drains. They eventually find their way to the groundwater.
Never enter a septic tank. The gases in it are dangerous. Call a licensed pumping company to empty the tank as required.
WOWRA - Wisconsin Onsite Water Recycling Association
NOWRA - National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
Wisc. Dept. of Commerce - for POWTS (Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems
Waukesha County - Septic Info
Walworth County - Septic Info
Washington County - Septic Info
Jefferson County - Permits & Forms
Lakeshore Burial Vault - Septic Tanks
Dalmaray PreCast Concrete Products
Sim/Tech - Pressure Filters
Polylok - Wastewater Products
What are the warning signs of a failing septic system?
These signs may be indicators that the drain field is failing:
What is a drain field? (Leach Field)
Septic drainfields are used to remove contaminants and impurities from the liquid that emerges from the septic tank. This is typically done by burying perforated pipes in trenches and allowing the liquid to leach out and the surrounding soil absorbs the unwanted waste. Another term for this is a leach field.
Remnants of a clogged filter. Note all of the debris above the filter. This shows us that the level has been too high recently.
Seeds and Peelings take longer to break down and they can clog your filter.
TEA DRINKERS & JUICING MACHINES, DON'T PUT REMNANTS IN DISPOSAL!
"Gravelless System" Made by EZ Flow
"Gravelless Chamber" Made by Infiltrator
How much does a Septic System Cost?
Septic System costs vary depending on many factors. The results from a soil test is a big factor in determining how much your system will cost. Ultimately, the better the soil the less expensive your system could be.
Conventional Septic System Cost Range: $7-12K
Mound System Cost Range: 12-18K
Other Cost Factors Include:
1. Existing Site Conditions. Is there plenty of room for our equipment to get in and out? Is there plenty of room to stockpile stone, dirt etc. Are there trees that need to be removed? Where are the overhead and underground utilities located? Generally, the larger the area we have to work with the smoother the process.
2. Some sites might require us to haul in extra fill. Mound Systems cost more than conventional systems because they require additional truckloads of sand and stone to be hauled in. Also, some systems may require extra deep pipe trenches because of poor existing soil. Watch our Video to see "what's in a mound" that makes a mound system cost more than a conventional. The results of a soil test help the septic designer determine how much a system will cost.
3. Size of tanks or leach field needed (systems are sized according to how many bedrooms the home has).
What if liquid is observed in the drain field vent or observation tubes?
Liquid observed in the drain field usually indicates that the soil absorption capability of the drain field is reduced and ponding is progressing. Many systems begin ponding within the first few years. The ponded state of a drain field is usually a slowly developing condition. The estimated life of today's drainage fields under normal usage is 15-25 years. The drain field is ponded to some degree during most of these years. A consistently rising level of ponding is a possible indicator as to the life expectancy of a drain field. Sludge in a vent pipe or observation tube is an indicator of a more serious condition.
Many lending institutions have been using the observance of any liquid in a vent or observation tube as the sole criteria for rejecting a septic system from a proposed sale or purchase of a home. As noted above, this is a subjective and inaccurate conclusion. A more reasonable condition of a sale would be to make sure that there is a suitable replacement drain field area available for the future if, and when, the existing drain field fails. Technical failure of a septic drain field is when the effluent is bleeding out onto the ground surface, wastewater backing up into the building (not due to plugged or broken sewer lines) or the existing drain field was installed less than 3 feet to a saturation zone, groundwater, bedrock or impervious soil.
How often should I have my septic tank pumped?
Ideally, Septic tanks should be pumped when they are 1/3 full of scum and sludge. County code requires you to have your septic pumped/maintained once every 3 years.
Older systems or households with many people residing should get the tank pumped every 1-2 years.
Regular septic pumping helps maintain proper liquid balance in your tank (liquid vs. sludge). During a routine pump, the certified pumper gives a visual look over the system. It can help identify potential problems.