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Steve, Master Plumber
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 39
Experience:  I have 23 years in the plumbing industry. I have experience in plumbing repair, remodeling as well as new construction.
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I have a septic tank, been here 10 yrs never had a problem

Customer Question

I have a septic tank, been here 10 yrs never had a problem with it. I was told that the builder put in a much larger tank than was necessary. Does this attribute to us never having a problem. Does a septic tank always have to be cleaned at some point or does it self-clean (for lack of a better term?)Also does the water from my sinks, shower and washing machine go into the septic?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Plumbing
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

Hi my name is***** have over 30 years in the plumbing industry and will be happy to help you.

That is a great thing that your builder oversized the septic and that certainly has helped you with never having to have it pumped I am sure. How often a tank needs pumped/cleaned depends on other factors such as how many people in your household and the amount of use it receives and the condition of the drain field. Not having it pumped in 10 years is not out of the ordinary though for an average size family on a larger septic tank. No they are not self cleaning, but they drain themselves into a drain field. The drain field is the important thing to keep clean. usually when a drain field becomes "clogged" that is when the septic tank will actually start to fill up and need pumped. The chemical you see advertised Rid-X is a good chemical to help keep the drain field clean and the septic system operating. Yes, all of your drains are going into your septic

Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

As far as does a septic need to be cleaned at at some point, yes it will. But when that will be depends on the factors I mentioned above. It could be next year or another 10 years from now. I hope this has helped and answered your questions. Please let me know :)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They say don't put soap or grease into the septic, that's why I was thinking the washer sink and shower would drain somewhere else?
The house is big and right now it's just two ppl for the past year but I've had as many as 10 some years in between with no issues.
I was told by a few different people that rid-ex is just a money grab?
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

People have different opinions on Rid-X...but I have a septic system also and I use it. If you don't have sewer run to your property, then your plumbing fixtures are on the septic tank. Yes grease is bad for a septic system as that leads to the drain field plugging. I myself don't flush grease. But it actually takes an awful lot to plug up a drain field. It sounds like from what you tell me though, your drain field is doing it's job.

Think of your septic tank this way. It's a large tank that fills with liquid, etc. to a certain height. once it reaches that height, that liquid goes out of a pipe and down into a rock drain field to keep the tank from becoming "full." When the rock drain field becomes plugged and can no longer take anymore of the liquid from the tank, the tank then fills up and needs pumped. So a healthy drain field means a happy homeowner. It's great you ask these questions ahead of time. Most wait until things go wrong. You are on top of it!

Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

I am heading out this morning to take care of some plumbing work, so I will not be on the computer until this evening. In the meantime if you have read my responses, please let me know if you feel I have addressed your questions adequately and let me know if you have any others

If all is well, I'd appreciate it if you could give me a positive service rating. If you have more questions, I'll be more than happy to continue discussing them with you when I return this evening :) Thank you,


Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

Hello my friend, I'm just following up to see if you have read my previous posts and also to see if I can help you with further? Please let me know and thank you, Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Apologize for the delayed response. What's the best way to locate the tank and drain field. Builder cannot remember where he put it. We know the general area but that's it.
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

No problem, I figured you were busy and your question wasn't an emergency issue.

If you know the general area as you say where the tank is, start probing with a a metal probe rod, until you hit it. You will know when you hit that concrete tank. I'm sure you have seen these t-handle metal probing rods, many utility workers use them. That is what I also use to locate tanks and follow sewer lines. The tank top shouldn't be very deep at all. Usually just below the surface. But I have seen them up to a foot deep. If you know where you main drain leaves your house, you can follow that line to the septic tank also. Usually the tank is about 10 feet from the home and generally not more than 20. Once you have located the tank, you will want to find the lid. The lid is what would be opened for the tank to be pumped. Once you find that lid, take a measurement(s) from the house and write those down. It's always nice to have that to refer to later.

The drainfield isn't really something you would need to locate unless you were wanting to maybe put an addition on your home or add another building, dig a well etc. It can be a bit more difficult to locate. Here is a link to an article that will provide you more information on locating the field. I think you will find this site very helpful. You may want to bookmark it for possible future use:

I hope I was able to address your questions to your satisfaction :) Please let me know if you need further assistance. Thank you, Steve

Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

Hello friend,just following up with you to see if I have given you the information you needed. If you have any other questions about this, please let me know. If you feel everything has been covered, I'd appreciate it if you could give me a positive rating, that is how us experts on Just Answer are compensated for our time. Thank you so much and let me know if I can provide further assistance. Steve