Frequently Asked Questions

How do septic systems work?

The typical septic tank contains two major components: a septic tank and a soil drainfield. The septic tank removes solids, which helps protect the soil drainfield from clogging that can result in premature failure of the on-site system. With the solids in the tank, a portion of it is digested by the tank and it stores the rest. Up to 50% of the solids that remain in the tank decompose. The remaining 50% accumulates in the bottom of the tank as sludge. When the level of sludge exceeds the tank’s holding capacity, the sewage has less time to settle before leaving the tank. Eventually, the sludge level increases enough to allow solids to enter into the drainfield, resulting in damage to the field and the need for extensive repairs.

The soil drainfield is the other key component in a septic system. The drainfield is located underground in an unsaturated soil area on your property. This part further treats the effluent through physical, chemical and biological processes. Here, the effluent is distributed, stored, and ultimately applied to the soil for treatment.

How often should I get my tank pumped?

It depends on the size of your tank, size of your home, and number of people who live there. Every system and situation is different and pumping may be required more or less often than indicated by your tank manufacturer. If you are in doubt, contact Affordable Septic and you can talk to one of our technicians today.

Why should I maintain my septic system?

A key reason is to save money! Failing septic system are incredibly expensive and can range from $7,000- $15,000 or more to replace your failing system. When you consider the cost of replacing your tank, the cost of having it inspected and pumped is a bargain! You also need to maintain your system because 98% of your county’s drinking water comes from the groundwater. If you have sewage leaking into your groundwater from poor maintenance that won’t make for very good drinking water. The performance of your tank directly correlates to how well it is maintained and operated by the homeowner. With proper care, your tank should last between twenty and thirty years.

How can I tell how large my tank is?

There are many websites dedicated to recording each septic system in your county. Most sites allow you to enter your address and you will be given facts about your tank size and recording of the times it was serviced. It is also a good idea to keep your own records about the size of the tank and when it was serviced and/or pumped. It is also helpful for the next owners of your home to have these records.

Clark County Septic System Information
http://www.co.clark.wa.us/public-health/septic/maps.html

Property records
http://secure.eonsite.net/COntractorSearchProperty.aspx

How do I know if my tank is failing?

Signs of your septic system failing include:

  • Odors, surfacing sewage, wet spots or lush vegetation growth in the drainfield area
  • Plumbing or septic tank backup
  • Slow draining fixtures
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system
  • Soggy soil over the drain field
  • Water that surfaces over the drainfield during heavy rain or when doing laundry.