• Septic System Questions
  • How often should I get my tank pumped?

    How often it should be serviced depends on a variety of factors. Some of these include: the capacity of the tank, the condition of the leach area, and how many people occupy the home. A certified technician can give the best recommendation when they service the system. A 2 compartment tank should be serviced every two to three years. If there is a garbage disposal on the system then it should be serviced annually.

  • What is a "baffle"?

    According to the regulations set by the Department of Health, every tank should have an inlet and an outlet baffle. When water and/or waste comes from the house and goes into the tank, it passes through the front baffle. It is less likely to clog with PVC baffle. The outlet baffle helps to prevent solids from getting out into the leach area.

  • What is a "filtered baffle" and why do I need it cleaned?
    It is usually a 4” PVC pipe baffle that a filter is inserted into. The filter reduces the amount of solids getting out to the leach. This baffle can get clogged and therefore needs to be cleaned out each time that the tank is pumped. If it is not then there is a risk of backing up into the home.
    Click here for an image of two baffles.  The one on the left is clean, and the one on the right is dirty and clogged.
  • How do I know if I dug up the correct cover?
    Normally the cover over your tank will be round and approximately 18” to 24” in diameter. In some cases the cover is square. In this case, the cover can not be smaller than 12” by 12” in order for us to be able to pump from it. If system is 1989 or newer in Connecticut, then it is probably a two compartment tank. In that case both large round covers will have to be exposed.
    PLEASE NOTE: If you are having a problem, the incoming cover may have to be exposed so a snake can be run to clear the line.
  • What is the average size of a septic tank?

    The size of a septic tank is based on the number of bedrooms, year of the system, and the state that you reside in. Most tanks range from 1000 to 1500 gallons.

  • How do I know if my tank needs to be pumped?
    For routine maintenance a tank should be pumped every two to three years. The following are some signs that you need to have your tanked pumped soon:


    • Backing Up - If you are backing up into your house from your outgoing pipe in your basement and other drainage points in your house, discontinue any water usage and get serviced as soon as possible.
    • Slow Drainage - If you notice that all your drains are going down slow this could be a septic issue. However, if it is a specific drain, than it is most likely an internal problem and you may need to contact a plumber.
    • Gurgling - A gurgling or bubbling noise is a sign that you need to be serviced fairly soon.
    • ​Surfacing - If you notice that there is surfacing over your cover then you may have to be pumped. This can also occur if your outgoing baffle is clogged.
  • When I look inside my tank, it looks full. Is this normal?

    The normal operating level of your tank is approximately 7”-8” below the top of the tank. Please note that your tank will fill up with liquids with in one week of being pumped. This is normal.

  • Can I get my tank pumped any time of the year?

    Yes, we are open year round. If it is winter time you will want to insulate your cover prior to us coming to pump it to ensure that we will be able to access the tank to clean it out.

  • How can I find out where my tank is?

    The following are the steps that you should take in order to locate your tank:

    Step 1: Go to www.visionappraisal.com & get the Map, Block & Lot numbers. If your town is not listed on the website call your Town Assessors office for this information. The town hall may have your "As Built"; if not then see the next step.
    Step 2: Call the North East District Department of Health with the map, block and lot number and see if they can locate the As Built for you.
    Step 3: If this does not work, we can attempt to locate the tank. If we do this, someone must be home so we can get into the basement to see where the pipe goes out.
  • How deep are my covers?
    In 2000 Connecticut mandated that all septic covers must be within 12” of the surface. However, not all covers are. Covers range in depth from ground level up to four feet. We will dig up covers any where up to three feet deep. The price is dependant on the depth and difficulty of the dig itself.
    At that time risers should be installed to bring the cover with 12 inches below, or equal to ground level.  Below is a picture of a typical riser and cover that are placed on top of your tanks opening, to bring the cover closer to ground level.
  • Why do I have to insulate my covers during the winter?

    Once we have freezing temperatures, covers can freeze to the tank. If these covers are not insulated, they can crack or break when we attempt to remove them.

  • How do I insulate my covers?

    Covers can be insulated with an old blanket, hay, newspaper, a tarp etc. Once the cover is insulated, place a wheelbarrow over it so that rain, ice and snow do not accumulate over the cover(s).

  • How long will my system last?

    If properly maintained, most systems last anywhere from 20 to 40 years. The most common reason for early failure is improper maintenance. When a system is not pumped out on a regular basis, solids build up in the septic tank and can flow into the leach field. This can cause the system to fail. Abusing a system will also cause it to fail. Abusing a system is using more water than the system is designed for or dumping fat and grease down the drains.

  • How close do you have to get to my tank to pump it?

    We park in the driveway and we have 150’ of hose on the truck. If it is a greater distance to get to your tank, we need to know ahead of time so that we can bring extra hose. Please ask us what the fee is for us to bring extra hose.

  • Do you clear septic lines?

    Yes, we do have a snake we can use to clear blockages. We snake from the tank to the home. We cannot snake from inside the home. If you have an internal blockage or problem, you will need to contact a plumber.

  • Does A-1 Septic perform inspections?
    Yes we do. We have a strict policy on inspections. In order to do an inspection we need to have serviced the system before OR it needs to be a year 2000 system or newer. Inspections are primarily based on the history of the system and its current condition. The history shows us how it has operated, when it has been pumped and if has ever had problems.
    PLEASE NOTE: It is our policy that once an inspection has been done by someone else we do not give a second opinion.
  • Do you provide service on the weekends?

    We are open on Saturdays from May through November. Our Saturday hours are from 8am until 12 noon. This is for emergencies and there is a Saturday fee. We are closed on Sundays.

  • Do you pump milking parlors?

    Yes we do.

  • Do you pump floor drains?

    No, our equipment is not made for this type of service.

  • What is a "grease interceptor" and who has them?

    Grease interceptors, previously knows as grease traps, are similar in appearance to a septic tank. They are intended for kitchen waste ONLY, to keep grease from entering the septic tanks.  Restaurants, schools & most places where food is prepared have a grease interceptor.

  • What is a cesspool?

    A cesspool does not typically have a leach field. All waste goes into the cesspool and the liquid leaches into the soil. They are often made out of cement block or stone. They are no longer installed.

  • What is a dry well?

    A dry well is used for leaching, laundry, and grey water. They are common in older systems.

  • Can I use my garbage disposal?

    You can use it, but we advise minimal usage. Septic systems are designed to break down digested waste. Food put down a garbage disposal is undigested and will take a lot longer to breakdown. Another concern is that the grease from the food can get out to the leach field and be detrimental.

  • If it says "flushable", why can't I flush it?
    Septic tanks are not designed to breakdown any other products beside digested waste and toilet paper.
    A product may say "flushable", but what that really means is that it won't get clogged when the toilet is flushed, not that it will break down in the tank.  In fact, most toilet papers shouldn't really be flushed.  A good test to see if the toilet paper you use can be broken down by the septic tank, is to put some water in a jar and some of the toilet paper you use, and shake it vigerously.  If it shreds and breaks down in the jar, it's just fine for your septic system.
    Also most other products are highly absorbent and can cause blockages at the baffle and in the pipes. They also make it hard when the tank is pumped as they can potentially clog the hose.


  • What is a soil test, and when would I need one?
    A soil test is performed when work is going to be done to an existing system or when a new system is going to be installed.
    It rates the soil for the usability and for how well it drains. It also lets us know the size tank that can be installed along with the maximum depth that the trenches can be.
    The department of health is present at a soil test as well.
  • Should I use RID-X or other additives in my septic system?
    We do NOT recommend using ANY additives in your tank.

    ​They cause your tank to percolate. This means that the additive could cause too much activity in the tank, which could cause solids to be suspended in the clear layer. These solids end up going into your leach field.

  • What are water softeners, and are they good or bad for my septic system?
    A water softener uses either a salt brine or potassium chloride that is added to your water.
    If a water softener is used, it should not be discharged into your tank. There should be an alternative receptacle*. The department of health has found that if the salt brine goes into your septic tank, it could harm your tank or leach.

    *Any questions please call the office.

  • How far from my well should my septic tank be?

    For new construction in Connecticut, the regulations are as follows: 75’ from the septic tank and drainage field and a minimum of 10’ from any property line.

  • Will trees in or around my leach field cause problems?

    They can, when new systems are installed keep trees away from the leach field. Roots can get into lines.

  • Sometimes the ground is soggy in my leach field. Is that bad?

    There are a few reasons that your leach field could be very wet.
    Your first step would be to make sure that there is not excessive water usage in your home (such as long showers and multiple loads of laundry). Make sure that there is not a toilet running. To do this put food coloring into the tank of your toilet and if it ends up in the toilet bowl, then your toilet is running.

    Another reason could be high ground water in that area. Your best bet is to limit your water usage and call a serviceman to see what is wrong and/or what can be done.

    PLEASE NOTE: When it has rained an excessive amount or when there is a lot of thawing the leaching area may appear “saturated”. However this may just be a temporary problem due to environmental factors.

  • What does it mean if my system is being "hydraulically overloaded"?
    If a system is being hydraulically overloaded, it means that more water is being used than the system was designed for. This can cause solids to be pushed into the leach field. It can also saturate your leach field causing surfacing in the yard and backing up into the house. Please take the following precautions to avoid hydraulically overloading your system:


    • Limit the amount of time spent in the shower
    • Do not leave the water running while your brush your teeth or do the dishes
    • ​Avoid washing more than two loads of laundry per day
  • Sometimes it smells like septic when I go outside. Does this mean I have a problem?

    This does not necessarily indicate a problem with your septic tank. If the odor is near the house, it is probably coming from the vent stack on the roof. You will probably notice this odor primarily in the morning or late afternoon when the air is cooler. You may also notice this odor if there is no wind and the air is stagnant or if it is windy and the odor from a close neighbors vent stack has been blown into the yard. Excessive amounts of water being used all at once can push air up thru the vent and occasionally cause odor as well.

    If it becomes a nuisance, there is the option of purchasing a charcoal vent filter. We do sell them, and it is up to the customer to install them.

  • It smells like septic in my house. Do I have a problem?

    Odors inside the home are very difficult to diagnose. Your first step would be to make sure that your traps aren’t empty. Empty traps allow air from the septic to vent back up the pipe and into the house. You can run water for a few seconds to fill your traps. Another reason for internal odor are fireplaces or woodstoves. When all the windows and doors are closed, exhaust fans, woodstoves and fire places create low pressure in the house which can pull septic fumes through traps. If the odor is in the basement then you could have a venting issue & should call a plumber.