Septic 101: Septic Maintenance

Often overlooked or neglected is the fact that a septic system should have a regular check-up to prevent problems. In far too many cases, septic systems are installed and largely forgotten – until problems arise. The difference between a failing system and a working system is the implementation of an effective inspection and maintenance program. This can help protect public health, preserve valuable water resources, and save homeowners time, money and frustration.

Maintenance programs can vary per the system type and the homeowner’s preference on information. A program could include regular simple evaluations after the tank has been pumped or more detailed inspections with a written condition report. In some cases a homeowner is required by a county or local government to have a maintenance contract with a licensed professional for their whole system or parts of their systems. This maintenance program could include pumping, cleaning, and inspecting parts of the system.

Proactive maintenance every 3-5 years and knowledge of the condition of the tank can help save thousands of dollars. If the septic tank has holes from erosion it can pollute groundwater. If the distribution boxes or outlet lines are cracked or have root infiltration this can cause major issues with your drainfield. The cost to evaluate your system and replace a pipe or distribution box will always be much cheaper than having to replace a drainfield.

At Speedy Septic, we make sure to include our 28-point stress test for free with every septic tank pumping. This stress test covers all working components of the tank and the first distribution box in the drainfield, which can show telltale signs of issues in the drainfield. This service includes a copy of the stress test for the homeowner and us, so if they call we can pull records of the condition of the tank last time we were there. This differs from an inspection in its amount of detail. While an inspection in Oregon must use an 8 page form called an Existing Septic Evaluation Form (ESER), the Speedy Septic Stress Test is a one page document including the condition of: the septic tank, the baffles, inlet or outlet lines, the pumps or effluent filters, and first distribution box. A small as built drawing is included along with any recommendations for repairs to the system.

We encourage residents outside of Oregon and lower Washington to find a septic service provider who gives this amount of helpful information with each pumping. Remember, knowledge is power! Having a regular maintenance schedule and knowing the condition of your system can help you save money and ensure the health of your environment.