Septic Maintenance FAQ
How long do septic systems last?
Septic systems are designed to provide long-term, effective treatment of household waste when operated and maintained properly. However, most systems that fail prematurely are due to improper maintenance. Less serious problems are usually with plumbing (such as pipe blockages from tree roots growing into the pipe). Sometimes, the septic tank, although durable, can deteriorate or have other structural problems. The most serious problems are the result of a clogged drainfield. Unfortunately, this is the most expensive to repair. Once the absorption field is clogged, it must be replaced and can cost thousands of dollars.
What is the replacement or reserve area?
This is an area that may be used for replacing or expanding the drainfield. It must meet the same criteria, such as acceptable soils, setbacks, etc., as a regular drainfield and should be protected in the same way.
How do I locate my septic system? How can I learn more about my property’s septic system?
Obtain a copy of your property’s septic system record drawing (usually referred to as an “as-built”), a diagram showing where your system components are located. You can obtain your property’s as-built from your local health department or health district–some allow you to search for your as-built online.
How do I know my septic system is in good working order?
A septic system evaluation can be performed by a septic system professional. Some health departments and districts can perform this service, usually for a fee. Contact your local health department or district for more information.
Can my septic system contaminate my well and nearby streams and water bodies?
Yes, particularly if the effluent is not adequately treated, as in a failing system. Untreated effluent is a health hazard and can cause many human diseases. Once this untreated effluent enters the groundwater, you and your neighbor’s wells can be contaminated. Also, if this sewage reaches nearby streams or water bodies, shellfish beds and recreational swimming areas may also be jeopardized. It's up to you to take preventative action today. Call Walla Walla Septic to request your free quote.
What happens when a septic system fails? How can I tell?
Usually when a septic system fails, the drainfield is not functioning properly. When a septic tank overflows, the effluent can pass to the drainfield, clogging up the pipes. This causes sinks and toilets to back up in the house. Other signs include: slow draining toilets and drains, an odor of sewage, wet area on or near the drainfield, or contaminated well water.
How can I prevent a septic failure?
Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! If your system has been properly designed, sited, and installed, the rest is up to you. Inspect your system annually and pump as needed (usually every 3-5 years), avoid excess water use, and watch what you put down the drain and flush down the toilet.