• Scheduled Service Calls 6am to 6pm

    Office Hours: 24/7

  • Frequently Asked Questions


    What methods are used to locate the tank?

    The most common methods used to locate a tank includes a probe and metal detector. However, if a tank is difficult to locate, or it is suspected that it may be located under a deck, patio, driveway, etc., a flushable electronic locator can be used to help find the tank.

    Are their hoses long enough to reach the tank without driving over your lawn?

    A vacuum truck that carries more hose can usually pump the tank from the street or your driveway, verses having to drive on your lawn to get right up to the tank. Blue Ribbon Septic has over 200 ft on their septic trucks.

    How do I find my septic tank?

    It has been the law for a while now that all septic access lids be brought to the surface so if your home was built in the last 15 years you should have two 24″ lids 6 to 8 feet apart somewhere near the house. Older systems have been installing them, however, if your tank is still buried it could be a chore. sometimes there will still be indentations in the ground where the lids have been exposed before or there could be a sewer line clean out access between the house and the tank that you could use to locate it. The use of a spring steel probe is the best way to find the tank. These probes will penetrate even the hardest of ground as long as you use water. Most tanks are a 10′ X 5′ square with 21″ lids 6″ in from each end right in the center. septic pumpers will remove these lids as part of the pumping process as long as they are exposed.

    Do they check the inside of the tank for baffles, walls, cracks, leaks, roots, etc.?

    Each time the tank is cleaned, the pumper should check for any problems in your tank.

    Do they pump the tank though the tank lid(s) or the cleanout

    Proper cleaning can only be accomplished through the tank lid(s).

    Do they wash out the tank after it is pumped?

    Both the solids and the liquids should be removed from the tank, then the tank should be rinsed with water. Some companies will only collect the liquids and leave the solids in your tank.

    Will they remind you the next time your tank should be cleaned?

    Companies that keep thorough pumping records should have a system in place to remind you to pump out your septic tank every 3-5 years. Experience the “Blue Ribbon Difference”

    Where is the tank lid or riser access to the tank?

    Good to know when you want to have the tank pumped or to preform maintenance. If you are unsure, Call Blue Ribbon Septic we can help!

    When was the last time the septic tank was pumped?

    Also, how often was it pumped out the tank. Did they go 10 years between pumping? Knowing when and how often helps determining how the system may be functioning or demonstrate lack of good maintenance.

    A Good Rule of Thumb:

    • 1 Person living in the house, every 10 years
    • 2 People living in the house, every 5-7 years
    • 4 People living in the house, every 3-5 years

    If you are unsure when your tank was last pumped or cleaned, give us a call, we’ll be happy to help!

    Has the home had additional bedrooms added or an addition put onto the home?

    The sizing of a septic tank is often determined by the number of bedrooms that a home has. Generally the more bedrooms, the more people who occupy a home. Therefore, there is more human waste and water that is going into the septic tank. Homes that have added one or more bedrooms may now have an undersized septic system. When the system is undersized, then the system may fail.

    Why should I pump my tank?

    A septic tank is just a sewage trap. Sewage and water come into it, the sewage is trapped, and the water keeps going out to a drainage field. periodically you must remove the sewage or the water leaving the tank will have sewage in it and it will ruin the drain field.

    How often should I pump my tank?

    Three to five years for a full family, five to seven for a couple. Ten years for a single person is the standard rule.

    Should I use additives in my system?

    Yes. Live bacteria live in the septic tank which break down the sewage. The bacteria from our bodies will suffice, however, during the breakdown process some of the sewage is digested and eliminated which means the more bacteria introduced to the system the better the system will operate. There are systems now designed with so much bacteria that all the sewage is eliminated and no pumping is necessary.

    How is the drain field ruined?

    sewage, from the septic tank being too full, flows out and clogs up the pores in the soil that allow the water to disapate into the ground. Once that happens, the system backs up.

    What are baffles?

    Baffles are septic tank components that slow wastewater entry sufficiently to ensure the distillation of solids, and prevent their release (as well as the release of scum) into the drainfield. In doing so, they protect the absorptive quality of the soil and prolong the life of the septic system as a whole. They are normally made from the same material as the septic tank — either fiberglass, steel or concrete.

    Inspectors should check baffles for the following:

    • solids covering the baffle. This should be reported immediately, as it indicates overflow
    • erosion from chemicals and water flow
    • evidence of previous overflow
    • sewage level should be several inches below the baffle top. A lower level indicates leakage and a higher level indicates blockage

    Maintenance Tips

    Inspectors should know the following information so they can inform their clients about ways they can inadvertently damage their septic system:

    • Only bath tissue can be flushed down the toilet. Tampons, paper towels, cigarette butts and diapers should be put in the trash. Household chemicals such as gasoline, paint, medication, antifreeze and pesticides can damage bacteria in the septic system and should never be flushed or dumped down the sink. Detergents and bleach can enter the plumbing system in moderate amounts.
    • Cars should not be driven on or near the drainfield. Their weight can unknowingly damage subterranean piping.
    • Only grass should be planted above the septic tank and drainfield. Roots from trees and large shrubs can cause unseen damage.
    • No one should ever dig or build on top of the drainfield.
    • All water drainage from rainwater, sump pumps, or any surface water should be diverted away from the drainfield. An over-saturated drainfield can retard the water treatment process and cause plumbing fixtures to back up.
    • An easy way to prolong a septic system’s life and prevent a very costly replacement is to fix leaky faucets and toilets immediately. Any household water waste should be avoided. Taking shorter showers and not using a garbage disposal are ways to limit water use.

    Some Precautions

    • Inspectors should not enter the septic tank to look for cracks. Tank interiors are very dirty and entrance should be avoided. If a crack is present, it will likely be at the level of the effluent, which will have drained from the tank through the crack. A strong sign that a crack is present is an effluent level significantly below the level of the tank outlet. A tank with cracks that allow effluent to leak into the surrounding earth is essentially a cesspool and needs to be replaced.
    • Above-ground water indicates an overloaded septic system, if this water originates from the tank. Inspectors sometimes use a dye flushed down the toilet to confirm that the water originates from the house and not elsewhere. While this measure can be helpful, it is not an acceptable method to test septic system functionality. Flushed dye that appears in the puddle will confirm a faulty septic system, but dye that does not appear does not ensure a working system. Dye can take days to appear and may be too diluted to see clearly.
    • Septic system inspection is outside the scope of general home inspection and requires special training. Laws vary by jurisdiction, and inspectors should know them well before performing this service. They should disclaim any part of the inspection of the septic system that they did not inspect.

    Septic System Dangers

    Septic systems are designed to handle dangerous waste and can pose serious health hazards to homeowners and inspectors. The following are a list of precautions:

    • A professional septic tank pumping service, not an inspector, should remove solid waste.
    • No one besides a licensed, equipped professional should enter a tank. Noxious fumes such as methane can cause rapid asphyxiation and death.
    • If a septic tank shows signs of weakness, tread with caution! Collapse can be fatal. Beware of tanks with rusting metal, homemade lids, or anything else that appears unstable.

    In summary, septic system inspections should be performed based on your original square footage and how many people are living in the home to ensure proper function. The septic tank is the most expensive household fixture and it’s lifespan will be shortened significantly if it is not maintained. If you are unsure when it was pumped & cleaned, call Blue Ribbon Septic Service 916 676-6325


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