Common Questions about Septic Systems

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An Interview with George Sam of New Milford Septic Services

What are the most common septic system repairs you do in the Connecticut area?

The most common minor repairs are distribution boxes and piping repairs, outlet baffle replacement, along with lids and risers on tanks. We also do a large amount of septic-tank only replacements (due to structural failure) as well as full-system replacements on lived-in and new construction properties.

What are the warning signs that a homeowner should consult a licensed contractor about?

The most common signs of a problem are gurgling or slow-flushing toilets; wet, soggy soil in the leach fields or septic tank area and/or smelly discharge coming from anywhere outside.

When is a permit required for repairs and how long does it usually take to get one?

A permit is required for any work not deemed a minor repair. A minor repair is a lid, riser, outlet baffle, etc. The time it takes to get a permit can be as short as the same day and up to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the job and what health district the job is in. Some districts are faster than others.

Are there any basic steps that homeowners can take to help prevent major septic repairs?

The biggest thing a homeowner can do is conserve water. Most septic systems have a maximum gallon per day that they can discharge into the soil. If you exceed that amount the water has nowhere to go but to the surface. It’s equally important that only human waste and toilet paper is flushed down the toilet. Most products labeled “septic safe” are not. Limiting food waste over an extended period of time also helps prolong the life of the septic system.

What advice would you give to people who are considering purchasing a house in Connecticut with a septic system?

The best advice I can give to a purchaser is to have the septic system inspected by a qualified and knowledgeable licensed installer. It’s also important to make sure that the property can support a future septic system when the current one decides to fail. That often gets overlooked and the purchaser ends up buying a property that cannot support a code compliant or capable sized septic system.

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