Septic Systems

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An on-site septic (sewage) system is the most common method of sewage treatment and disposal for homes that are not on a public sewer line. A septic system consists of a tank and a drainfield where the wastewater slowly seeps into the soil. Proper septic systems treat the sewage before it reaches ground and surface waters. Poorly designed or malfunctioning systems cause odor and water pollution.

Design

A licensed designer must be consulted about new or upgraded systems. Your county health department must inspect it before you cover it. This is the law.

Be sure you know how your system works. Many newer homes have "alternative" systems with electric pumps and controls which require annual inspection by a professional. The state Department of Health has information about the different types of systems and their maintenance. 

Maintenance

Septic tanks need to be inspected by a knowledgeable person once a year. Frequency of pumping will depend on your household habits. 

Signs of Septic System Failure

If you notice any of the above signs or have any suspicions that your system may have problems, get it checked right away. Septic systems do not generally show signs of failure until they are in an advanced state of deterioration. You can avoid costly repairs by having your tank inspected and pumped regularly.

For information and help: Contact your county environmental health department or the state Department of Health.

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