Here in the desert, it’s extremely common for residents to have septic systems. A lot of areas just don’t have any sort of municipal sewer system. For people who’ve lived here for a while, owning a septic tank is no big deal – but it can be a bit of a shock for newcomers to the area. And with so many people moving out of the city lately, we’ve got plenty of newcomers!
If you are new to septic tank ownership, one of the most important things to know is this: you will need regular septic system service calls. At the least, the tank needs to be emptied every 3-4 years, which requires a visit from specialists in a pumping truck. You may also need to have service calls if the pipes flowing to the tank become clogged, or if something happens to the drain field.
Either way, septic system service calls are a fact of life when you have a septic tank. When scheduling a service call, you can assume that the specialists will handle most of the hard work. However, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for their visit – particularly if you want to reduce how many hours, they bill you for!
How To Ensure Your Septic Tank Service Call Goes Smoothly
I. Locating Your Septic Tank
Being buried underground, it can potentially be difficult to find your septic tank. The service people who visit your home are experienced in hunting them down, but it can take time – time that you’ll be billed for. If it’s at all possible, you want to know the location of the tank, particularly its hatch, to speed up the visit.
Hopefully you already know this, from the previous owners. But if you don’t, here are a few ideas to help you find it.
- Check your paperwork
Look through the paperwork you received when purchasing the property, particularly any blueprints or documents laying out the exact boundaries of your land. There’s a good chance the location of the tank is marked on them.
- Visit the town planning office
If your home was built at all recently, your local city hall (or equivalent) should have all the records of its construction – including the septic tank placement.
- Look for your sewer pipe
Your house will have one primary sewer pipe that carries most of your wastewater to the tank. In most cases, this pipe will be visible in the basement – and it’s about four inches in diameter, so it’s hard to miss. If you see it, take note of where it exits the house. It should point straight at the tank.
- The grass is always greener…
The old saying about the grass being greener above the septic tank is often true! If there’s a spot on your lawn which seems particularly lush, there’s a very good chance the septic tank is below.
- Narrow down your search
There are a few places where you can be certain the tank is not: It’s NOT close to an existing structure, beneath pavement, next to any water wells, or near any large trees.
In any case, you’ll need to do a little digging to verify the location of the tank, and to find its opening hatch. Sadly, there’s no easy shortcut here. The good news is that once you have found the hatch, you can mark it with a flag or stake so that you’ll never have to do this hunt again.
II. Preparing the area for visitors
So, you know where you hatch is. What else can you to do reduce any problems during the septic system service call?
Well, another major thing you can do is clear out the area where people will have to work. Move any lawn ornaments, furniture, toys, vehicles, etc., which might be in the way. This is particularly important when your tank needs to be emptied. This requires a relatively large tanker truck, which will usually be driven within a few feet of the tank.
If you’re lucky, and the tank is on your front yard near the road, your service experts will try to avoid driving on your lawn. However, if the tank isn’t near the road, this will be unavoidable. So make sure there’s a clear path from the road to your tank which is wide enough to accommodate a working vehicle.
Likewise, of course, if the tank is behind a gated fence or similar barrier, make sure it’s unlocked and ready for access once they arrive.
Get this done early, and that saves you more time on the septic system service call.
III. Controlling access
This probably goes without saying, but you must keep children and pets away from the area while people are working on your septic tank. Septic tanks are extremely dangerous, and if someone falls in, it could legitimately be fatal.
So, make sure to lock up your pets somewhere well away from the area being worked on, and keep the kids clear as well. Also, if you happen to have neighbors who tend to drop in uninvited, you probably want to warn them ahead of time to stay away while the service call happens.
IV. What to do during the septic system service call
After you’ve pointed the workers at your tank and verified, they know where the hatch is, there’s not much else to be done. They’ll take it from there. You’re free to hang around and watch if you like but, well, the smell usually discourages people from doing this. Chances are you’ll want to just stay indoors, and let the workers do their thing. They’ll let you know when they’re done.
Generally, it only takes an hour or so to clean out the tank – particularly if you’ve followed this guide to make it as easy as possible! After the cleaning, they’ll also give your tank and the drainage field as quick once-over, to see if there are any signs of damage or other maintenance issues.
If they do spot a problem with the tank, it’s a very good idea to let them go ahead and fix it. There’s no better time to do repairs than when the tank is already open and drained, so you’ll be saving money compared to scheduling a second service call.
Roto-Rooter Makes Septic Tank Ownership Easier!
We’re the area experts in septic tank installation, maintenance, and pumping – and we want to help you have many years of great service from your septic system! We provide full septic system service to Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, and the surrounding areas.
If you’re new to septic tank ownership, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about care and maintenance. Or, if you ever have any problems, we’re available 24/7 for emergency services. Call us whenever you need us!