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What is a septic system?

A septic system is technically known as an Onsite Sewage Disposal System. This system starts with a septic tank, which is used to store, on average, 1000 to 1500 gallons of sewage to allow time for bacteria to grow and break down the biodegradable solids into liquids known as effluent. The effluent is then disbursed into some type of lateral system or other system to recycle this effluent, or “dirty water” into the environment in a safe and non-offensive way.

What different types of septic systems are available?

There are many different septic system types, and we service them all:

  • Conventional -includes shallow-in-ground with Chambers or Pipe and Gravel
  • Lagoon
  • Mound Systems
  • Low Pressure Pipe Systems (includes at grade systems)
  • Bottomless Sand Filter Systems
  • Drip Systems including Raised Drip Systems

How do I know what type of septic system I have?

Most people have a conventional, gravity, in-ground lateral system. If your home is over 10 years old, there is about a 99% chance of that you have a conventional system. Another trait of a conventional system is that it has no obvious outer signs. Older tanks were typically installed without a riser (manhole) brought to the surface. For this reason, many people with a conventional system don’t even know where their tank is located. The laterals may show signs by leaving long strips of taller grass in your yard, especially in dryer weather. Usually these strips will be parallel to each other and about 10 feet apart. If you have an alternative system, it will typically be newer than 10 years and will have extra equipment such as an electrical box or panel inside or outside the house that is marked as “High water alarm”, “Tank Alert”, “Septic Alarm”, or something of that nature.

What routine maintenance should I perform on my septic system?

The only routine maintenance of a conventional septic system is to have the tank pumped out by a qualified (should be licensed by the county) pumping contractor every 3 to 5 years. This removes any non-biodegradable substances that are bound to enter the tank with even the most careful use. If left unpumped for too many years the solids can build up in the tank to the point where the safeguards that are built into a proper tank can no longer keep small bits of solids from escaping the tank and being disbursed into the lateral field. If that happens, the solids can eventually clog up the laterals and cause them to fail, which can result in effluent surfacing on the ground or backing sewage up in the home. Both of these can cause a very smelly situation that is unpleasant and unhealthy.

Does Quality Septic & Sewer offer septic system maintenance plans?

We now offer a yearly maintenance program for every type of system. Please call 913-980-6886 or email for pricing, as it varies for the different types of systems.

Should I put additives into my septic system to help it work?

No, you shouldn’t use additives in your septic system. Long-term studies show that no additives that have been tested have helped the system, and some have actually hindered the system from working to it’s full potential. Human waste has all the bacteria needed to make a septic system work as it should. If the tank is pumped out on a regular basis, no other routine maintenance should be necessary on a conventional system.

What can I not flush or send down the drain with a septic system?

You must keep items out of the system that are not biodegradable. NOTHING SHOULD GO DOWN TOILETS OR DRAINS OTHER THAN TOILET PAPER, HUMAN WASTE, AND CONSERVATIVE SINK DISPOSER GARBAGE. ANY OTHER PRODUCTS CAN CLOG THE TANK OR MOTOR IF IT IS A PUMPED OR AERATED SYSTEM. Liquid laundry detergent is recommended over powder since it dissolves easier. Look for “biodegradable” on the label. Try not to use harsh chemicals, if you can, such as chlorine bleach. A product like Oxy Clean works really well as an alternative. Try not to put grease or fat down the sink. You don’t need to stop using the garbage disposal, but use common sense as to what to put down it. Naturally, these things are sometimes used or accidentally get into the system, which is why regular pumping is necessary. Pumping removes the matter from the tank that can’t be broken down by the natural process.

Can I use a water softener with a septic system?

Water softeners should not be used with a septic system. The salt from the unit can hurt the septic system, especially in any septic system that uses sand for filtration.

Who should I contact about my failing septic system?

Please feel free to call us at 913-980-6886 if your system fails or if there are any issues at all. You may also get in touch with us through our contact page. We would always be glad to consult with you about your system at no charge, however we cannot work on any systems unless the governing body with jurisdiction in the area is involved. You can check out where we are licensed to work here.

What if I start to notice a smell coming from my septic system?

Should a sewer odor become noticeable in the basement, it most likely has nothing to do with your a septic system. If you have just moved in, here are some common causes and fixes for sewer odors:

  • Odors from the stagnant water in the unused sump pit.
  • Odor originating from a floor drain.
  • If you can’t pinpoint the origin of the odor, look around the ceiling of an unfinished basement for a plumbing pipe that may not have been capped off. If you can’t find anything, call us to take a look.

If the odor still persists, a smoke test can be performed to find the cause. Please call us at 913-980-6886 to schedule an appointment for this procedure.

What should I do if my septic system alarm goes off?

If the alarm sounds or red light comes on, this means there is a problem with the pump or pump controls causing the water to rise above normal. If your alarm goes off, you should do the following:

  1. Shut off the audible alarm if you can. Most systems are equipped with a switch to mute the alarm. Be sure to unmute the alarm once the issue is resolved!
  2. Restart your septic pump. Check the electric panel. One breaker should usually be marked specifically for the septic pump. If so, turn that breaker off and back on.
  3. Wait ten minutes.
  4. Check if the alarm is still on (red light shining).
  5. Contact us. Whether or not restarting your pump disables the alarm, you should call us to alert us of the situation.

Most pumped systems are set up with a large enough pump chamber to store about two days of liquid before any kind of back-up situation could occur. Don’t wait two days to call, but unless there are special circumstances, a “middle-of-the-night” call is not usually necessary.

NOTE: If your home loses power for an extended period of time, once power is restored, the alarm could sound until the pump has had time to lower the liquid down to an acceptable level.

I am building a new home or addition. What permits do I need for my septic system?

Permits are similar in each jurisdiction. Please check out our service map to see where we are licensed to work. We are always be happy to talk to you about your particular situation and can advise you as to what you will need to get the ball rolling. You can get in touch through our contact page, or call us at 913-980-6886.

NOTE: The most common mistake regarding the construction of a new home that requires a septic system is to not fence or stake off the absorption area prior to, and after the commencement of the home construction. This is needed to keep that area undisturbed and uncompacted by trucks, etc. Failure to do this could cause the need for new test holes and possibly moving the system entirely.

Do I need a water alarm for my septic system?

All pumped septic systems and aerator systems should be equipped with a high water alarm. For extra security and peace of mind, you can purchase an additional water alarm to place next to your basement floor drain. These can be purchased for about $12.00 at Home Depot. For more information, please give us a call at 913-980-6886.

Can I install a septic system if I have bad soil or shallow rock?

If you have bad soil or shallow rock, an above ground septic system would be required such as a Mound System or Raised Drip System.

If I have bad soil, can I add good soil and install a septic system in that?

Not as a rule. Imported soil is loose and will get packed down when it is placed in your yard. There is a natural structure to your current soil that allows for a septic system to drain; newly imported soil will not have this structure. If you have bad soil, an above ground septic system such as a Mound System or Raised Drip System would be required.

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