An educated consumer is my best customer (I have been in business for over 10 years), and in order for you to receive the best service at a fair and reasonable price, I want you to know your set-up of your septic system (click here if you have a pre-1972 cesspool system) here on Long Island.
What is a septic tank system?
A septic tank is a solid basin on all sides except for a manhole access on the top for pumping. It is not designed to drain liquids, rather it is a place to store solid wastes.
The septic tank collects approximately 10% of your household waste such as soap scum, paper products, hair, grease and unmentionables. This tank should be pumped out every five to ten years, depending on family size and abuse – such as throwing grease down the drain, food disposal, etc.
A septic tank is connected to a cesspool. A cesspool is a cylinder shaped drainage system designed to leach out vast amounts of water through perkulation / percolation. The cesspool drains all of the liquids, filtering out any organic matter through the surrounding sand. See diagram below.
If your house was built after 1972, you have a septic tank and cesspool system.
Why do septic tanks / cesspools fill up?
Since a septic tank is a closed, sealed unit, after years of use it eventually fills up with solids and needs cleaning (a pump-out).
Cesspools drain water through sand (perkulation / percolation). The sand filters out fine organic particles. As the cesspools start to fill, water pressure forces these particles deeper into the sand. This is a slow process, but over time, the sand below the cesspool saturates with organic matter, not allowing the water to drain fast enough.
Enzyme treatments are recommended for sealed septic tanks and sand bottom cesspools. Enzyme and bacteria treatment help break down solid organic matter and helps keep piping clean.
How to locate septic tanks and cesspools?
In most cases, your property survey has a diagram where the septic system is located. If you house was built after 1972, your local town building department has a copy of your survey. Also, your local health department has a copy. Sometimes septic covers are visible.
If your cesspool is buried beneath the lawn, look in your basement or crawlspace where your main drainage line exits your house. The main drainage line is a large pipe about four inches in diameter. The main drainage line links directly to your septic tank or cesspool. This gives you an indication where they are located.
The following information supplied by the Suffolk County Health Department will; help you locate your cesspool.
• The closest a septic tank or cesspool can be located to the foundation of the house is ten feet if the house has a basement and five feet if the house is on a slab.
• Your system must be at least 100 feet from private water wells.
• Your system must be at least five feet inside your property line.
• The system must be twenty feet from swimming pools.
• The system must be at least 20 feet from storm drains.
Once you have a general idea where your septic system is located, look for a circular area of grass that appears greener than the surrounding area. Also, take note of where the snow melts the fastest — that is good indicator of where your system is located.
If you still can’t find it, hire a professional to locate the system for you.
How often should I service my septic system?
There is no one size fits all answer to this question. It all depends on the amount of people living in the house, if you do laundry at home, if you abuse your system by putting grease down the drains, and if you have a one, two or three component system.
A one-cesspool system can fail within 10 years. A two or three component pre- 1972 system will need service after about 15 years.
Look for warning signs: slow flushes, gurgling in drains, bubbles coming up in the toilet. These problems will happen with heavy water use and then go away during times of limited water use.
It is important to address the problem as soon as you see symptoms. Delaying a fix will cost you more money in the long run.
Call us now for an inspection of your system.