Septic FAQs

Learn More About Septic Tank Pumping in Erie, PA

Q. What is a septic system? 

A. A septic system is a subsurface wastewater treatment and disposal system. In most circumstances a septic system will serve only one individual house or building. The sewage from the house enters the system through a building sewer and is treated before being discharged into the ground. Modern systems include a septic tank to retain solids, greases and fats and a disposal field to allow the liquid (effluent) to flow into the ground.

Q. How much does it cost to have a septic tank pumped? 

A. This depends on the size of the tank. Please call for inquiries. Some companies charge a flat rate for pumping while others charge by the hour. 

Q. How often should a septic tank be pumped out? 

A. The frequency with which you need to schedule septic tank pumping depends on the tank size, the family size, and whether you use a garbage disposal unit or not. The Erie County Health Department recommends pumping your septic tank every three to five years depending on the tank size and the amount and types of solids entering the tank. 

Q. The grass above my septic tank is a different color than the rest of my lawn. Why is this? 

A. If the grass over your septic system is lush green and the soil is moist, you may have problems with your septic system. Call us today to examine your system to isolate the cause of this condition. If the grass over the septic system is brown, you most likely do not have enough topsoil to support the lawn’s root system.

Q. Can I plant trees or shrubbery over my septic tank or drain field?

A. When it comes to landscaping over your septic tank, drain field and surrounding soil, grass is the best cover. 

  • Do not plant trees, as the roots can invade the system and clog the drain field. 
  • Do not place impermeable materials such as landscaping cloth, landscape timbers, concrete or plastic over your drain field.

Q. What additives reduce the need for routine pumping? 

A. Most drain field failures require replacement. The only way to evaluate the cause of the problem is an on-site inspection by a registered, licensed septic tank contractor. There is no conclusive data to support the long term effectiveness of additives use.

Keep Reading To Learn More About Your Septic System

Q. What questions should I ask my septic system professional during the inspection?

  • Ask your professional to inspect the baffles and report the condition of your septic tank. 
  • Ask if the levels of sludge and scum are within the normal ranges.
  • Mention if you’ve noticed odors, wet spots, ponding water or surfacing sewage. This will help determine if your septic tank requires pumping at more or less frequent intervals and if the system is functioning properly.

Q. Will a garbage disposal work with a septic tank? 

A. Garbage disposals should not be used. They require excessive amounts of water and the material produced does not readily decompose in the septic tank.

Q. What materials will be harmful to my septic tank? 

A. Never flush harmful materials into the septic tank. The following materials do not decompose in the septic tank, and could hinder the natural bacterial processes. They may even pollute ground water.

• Grease • Cooking oils • Newspapers • Paper towels • Rags • Coffee grounds • Sanitary products • Wet wipes • Cigarettes • Solvents
• Paints • Oils • Pesticides • Anti-bacterial products

Q. What are the warning signs of a failing septic system? 

• Odors • Surfacing sewage • Wet spots • Ponding water • Plumbing or septic backups • Slow draining fixtures • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing

If you notice any of these signs, contact a septic tank system professional for assistance.

Q. Is it okay to drive or park cars on my drain field?

A. No. The pressure will cause possible damage or crush your drain field and you will have to pay for a costly repair.

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