Septic System Service Calls
You should call in a professional septic service at the first sign of trouble (see Septic Problems). In most instances the service professional will want to examine the tank. In a conventional system the access ports to the tank are usually buried below the surface. If you know where your tanks are located you should let the service professional know. If not, the professional will probe with a rod and locate the tank. In an aerobic system application the access ports are usually above ground and easily identified. Most septic problems originate in the tank, so the professional will want to determine the degree of sediment build-up, the thickness of the scum layer, as well as the condition of the baffles at either end. Broken baffles will cause the tank to plug-up at the broken end. When this occurs the system will ultimately back up. If the scum or sediment layer is too thick, the tank will need to be pumped out. This is usually necessary every 5 years though homeowners may experience longer or shorter timeframes depending on the amount of solids entering the system. If the tank and baffles are in good shape the problem may be a clogged drainfield or an obstruction in the inlet pipe between the house and the tank or the outlet pipe between the tank and the drainfield. Your professional septic serviceman can usually make this determination after examining the tank and line cleanouts.
If you have an aerobic system, your septic professional will also remove the access port covers to check for sludge buildup, proper functioning of the aeration system including the pump, alarms,
electricity supply lines, circuit breaker, wastewater color and odor, and all mechanical parts. Samples may be taken from the aeration chamber as well as from the treated wastewater. Solids will
be pumped from the system as necessary. In aerobic systems this may be as frequently as every year. If you are not using your house all year long, or plan to go on extended trips of a month or more, you
should ask your service professional to explain proper aerobic system shut-down and restart procedures. You may want to leave a key to the system with a neighbor so that the system can be examined if
alarms go off while you are away or the professional needs to make a routine maintenance check while you are out.