Frequently Asked Questions

Caring for your septic system
  • Know where your septic tank and drainfield are located.
  • Pump your septic tank every 2-3 years.
  • Do not add additives to your septic tank.
  • Maintain your pump, if you have one.
  • Practice water conservation.
  • Divert runoff away from your drainfield.
  • Do not construct anything over your drainfield.
  • Do not park or drive cars over your drainfield.
  • Be careful what you flush into your septic tank.
  • Inspect your system every year.
What is a septic tank system?
A septic tank system (also called an on-site sewage disposal system) is a disposal system for water and household wastes from the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.
The system provides initial treatment of these wastes before they are further purified by the filtering action of the soil. The septic tank and drainfield are the system’s two main components. The septic tank is a large underground storage tank that collects and holds all household wastes for two to three days, so that the heavy suspended materials sink to the bottom to be decomposed by bacteria into sludge. Lighter materials float to the top and form a scum layer which also decomposes in time. After being partially purified, the wastewater flows from the septic tank into the drainfield. At this point the wastewater is called “effluent.”
The drainfield is a network of perforated pipes buried underground in gravel trenches. The effluent flows through the pipes out the holes and into a large area of soil. The soil is an excellent filter, removing the remaining suspended substances, pollutants and bacteria from the effluent.
Alternative disposal systems
Alternative or enhanced treatment systems are used when the soil is not adequate to treat the effluent, or when there is not enough soil to install a conventional system. The most commonly used alternative systems in this region are Mound, Sand Filter, and Pressure Distribution systems. These systems consist of a septic tank, pump tank, and drainfield. The drainfield consists of small pressure lines which distribute the eflluent from the septic tank evenly throughout the drainfield 1-4 times per day. The openings in these pressure lines are very small and tend to clog easily, so you should avoid the use of a garbage disposal.
Mound, Pressure Distribution, Sand Filters, and some gravity systems require the use of a pump (or dosing tank). The purpose of the pump is to transfer effluent from the septic tank to the drainfield. A pump should have an audible (loud) alarm that will sound when the pump malfunctions or the power is cut off. This requires that the pump and the alarm be on separate circuits. The alarm is usually located in the garage.
After a power failure, you should check to make sure that the pump is operating properly before using the sewage disposal system, to prevent sewage back-up into the house. You should be able to hear the pump humming or vibrating when you stand on top of the pump tank, or you can remove the pump tank access lid to observe the pump’s operation.
After the family has been away, such as on vacation, care must be taken not to overload the pump and system by doing multiple loads of wash and sequential showers and baths. If possible, spread out the washing of clothes over several days to decrease the possibility of overdosing the system. The pump and screen, along with the other parts of the system, should be inspected every year.

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Josh at Bainbridge Septic Tank Pumping


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