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Septic System FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

Answers:

Where is my septic system located?
One way to determine the location of your septic system is to start in your basement or crawlspace and determine the direction the sewer pipe goes through the wall. Then go outside and start probing the soil with a thin metal rod 5 - 15 feet from the foundation to find the septic tank and then beyond the septic tank to find the septic absorption field . Once you have found your system, draw a map and keep it on hand to save time on future service visits. You may also contact the Department to check if there is a septic permit and inspection of the system installation on file at (970) 304-6415.

How often should I have my septic system inspected?
Inspections can reveal problems before they become serious, and by checking the levels of sludge and scum in your tank, you can get a more accurate idea of how often it should be pumped. We recommend that you inspect your system annually. Annual inspections can help ensure that your system is working properly, help you determine when it should be pumped, and can prevent the high cost of septic system failure.

Does it help to add yeast to my septic system?
Most biological additives, such as yeast, are harmless, but some chemical additives can potentially harm the soil in the drainfield and contaminate the groundwater. There are many products on the market that claim to help septic systems work better. However, the truth is there is not magic potion to cure an ailing system. The general consensus among septic system experts is that septic system additives are unnecessary and money is better spent pumping out the septic tank.

Can I tell when the last time my septic system was pumped?
Unless you have some type of documentation available to you, it may be difficult to determine when it was last pumped. You can however "test" the system by measuring the scum and sludge layers. Contractors may use a hollow clear plastic tube that is pushed through the different layers to the bottom of the tank. When brought back up, the tube retains a sample showing a cross section of the inside of the tank.

The layers can also be measured using a long stick. To measure the scum layer using a stick, a three-inch piece of wood is attached across the end of the stick to form a "foot", and the stick is pushed down through the scum to the liquid layer. When the stick is moved up, the foot meets resistance on the bottom of the scum layer, and the contractor marks the total thickness. As a general guideline, if the scum layer is within three inches of the bottom of the inlet baffle, the tank should be pumped.

How do household cleaners affect my septic system?
Always use the cleaning products as recommended by the manufacturer. Most household cleaning products will not adversely affect the operation of your septic tank. However, drain cleaners are an exception. It only takes a small amount of these products to kill the bacteria and temporarily disrupt the operation of the tank. Other household products that are hazardous include paints, varnishes, thinners, waste oils, photographic solutions, and pesticides. These items can overtax or destroy the biological digestion taking place within your system.

How can I tell if my septic system has failed?
The signs of a failing system may include:

  • slowly draining sinks an toilets
  • gurgling sounds in the plumbing
  • plumbing backups
  • sewage odors in the house or yard
  • ground wet or mushy underfoot
  • grass growing faster and greener in one particular area of the yard
  • tests showing the presence of bacteria or nutrients in well water

The appearance of one or more of these warning signals should prompt homeowners to have their system inspected. Septic system failures also can occur without any of these warning signals.

What are the setback requirements for installing a septic system?
Click here to view the setback requirements.

What are the Weld County installation regulations?
Click here to view the installation regulations.

Contact Information

Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment: Environmental Health Services
1555 N. 17th Ave
Greeley, CO 80631
phone:
(970) 304-6415