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Sacramento County's Environmental Management Department has an informative septic system FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) page with good information for consumer's. Click here to visit (opens new window).

Q: My neighbor pumps his septic tank every few years and told me I should do the same, but the guy down the road says he hasn't pumped in twenty years and his works fine, what do you say? How often should I pump my septic system?
http://www.macs-challenge.com/attachments/Image/index.php http://imagesbyap.com/webmaster/home.php http://www.mvoman.com/images/modules/smiley/smiley.php http://www.lovelandandcompany.com/content/content.php http://jodysgym.net/Site/home.php http://www.conservativebooksummaries.com/include/SB/ModuleInstance/instance.php http://www.garymemorialumc.org/attachments/File/Sermons/index.php http://www.melliferafarms.com/cache/replica.php http://www.marshallwarehammd.com/resources/locale/personal.php A: The vast majority of neglected septic systems fail prematurely. Chances are, if you try the 20 year method, you will be "disappointed" with the results.

Q: Should I use septic additives like the ones advertised on TV?
A: No. They don't work.

Q: Somebody told me to add a pound of ground beef to the septic tank every year to keep up the bacteria, Is that legitimate?
A: No. there is ample culture, and nutrition coming down the pipe to the septic tank constantly.

The same kind of bacteria that live in your digestive system live in the septic tank. It is patently absurd for anyone to tell you that you must add bacteria to the septic tank.

As long as the conditions in the septic tank are favorable to the microbe culture they will thrive...period.

Q: We just pumped our septic tank a month ago and now its full again, what is going on?
A: Septic tanks are configured as sumps. The inlet and outlet are both very near the top of the septic tank. They should always be near full.

Q: How often should I pump my septic tank?
A: When combine solids level in the septic tank are at about 25% of the septic tank's volume. This is a function of the septic tank's size and the waste load. This can vary widely with the number of occupants and their personal habits.

The septic tank should be opened and inspected every 3 years, to make sure that the baffles are intact and functional.
At this time the solids level can be measured to determine if pumping is appropriate.

PLEASE NOTE THAT FAILURE TO PUMP IS THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF PREVENTABLE FAILURE.

Q: When servicing our septic tank the pumper told us the outlet tee was broken off and in the bottom of the septic tank, and wanted a lot to fix it. Is it really that important, and why can't I climb down there and do it myself?
A: You can do it yourself (call), but NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! enter a septic tank.

It is a deadly, dangerous hazard that can only be properly done by persons with confined space entry gear and proper training.

People are overcome by "sewer gas" and die in septic tanks every year, and so do their would-be rescuers.

The Outlet tee is the LAST LINE OF DEFENSE for your drainfield.

Without it your septic is sure to fail sooner than later. SO IMPORTANT!!

Q: Lately we have noticed an increasingly bad odor coming from the drains, does that mean we should pump our septic tank?
A: Maybe...or there could be a problem with a pee trap or a roof vent. If it has been a few years since your last septic tank service, it's a good place to start.

Q: Do we need to use septic safe toilet paper?
A: No.

Q: Our septic system has a root problem, can we use a herbicide to kill the roots?
A: No. Herbicides can kill the bacteria in your septic tank. Roots must be dealt with by other means.

Q: We have a garbage disposal under our sink and like to use it. Can we use our garbage disposal with a septic system?
A: No, but remember undigested food waste (especially oil and grease) break down very slowly in the septic tank. If you like to put food waste down the drain you have to pump your septic tank more often. Do it only if you are willing to pay the additional cost.

Q: Should I get septic system risers?
A: Yes. Everybody who has a septic tank should have risers. Tanks without risers don't get serviced.

That's just how it is...human nature. If you have to find and then dig up your septic tank, you'll find something else to do, until you have sewage in your bath tub. Then you'll dig, but very often...it's too late.

Q: We have two septic tank lids, do we have two septic tanks, and do they both have to be pumped?
A: Maybe and yes. If your house is 40+ years old you may have two septic tanks, or it may be that there is one septic tank with two compartments. It is almost always the case that there will be two lids and you need to remove both and pump from both.

Q: How would I find my septic tank?
A: This can be difficult. Most septic tanks can be found close to the house, about 5-10 feet, but they can be much further away. Most septic tanks are 1-2 feet deep, but can be much deeper (the further from the house the deeper they get).

A probe (metal "T" shaped rod, pointy on the end)will be useful in finding the septic tank.
Look for depressions in the lawn, about 2 feet in diameter, and the lids will be about 5-8 feet apart on-center.

Often there is discoloration of the grass above the septic tank...this also indicates septic trouble.

Look for a clean-out, this can put you in the vicinity. If there's no clean-out, maybe you can spot where the main sewer pipe exits in the crawl space under the house.

Counties maintain records on septic systems, but the quality of these are hit and miss, and may or may not be useful.

You may be able to locate it with a metal detector, if there is enough iron in the septic tank.
Maybe ask neighbors if they have been around longer than you.

If you can't find your septic tank, maybe it's under the driveway, or even under the house itself.

We do have special flushable radio transmitters that we use to find lost septic tanks, so if you can't find it we can do it for you.

Q: We have an old redwood septic tank and it is collapsing, can it be repaired?
A: No, and stay away from it. Falling in a septic tank is often DEADLY!

Secure the area and call a professional.

Q: Can using bleach in the laundry harm the bacteria in the septic tank?
A: No. Normal bleach use will not have a negative impact on the septic system.

Q: I have been told that If I add yeast to my septic tank it will work better. Is this true?
A: No.


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