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Common Questions

How Can We Help You?

My system is making noise like an alarm what do I do?

Yes, that is an alarm. It means something is wrong with your system. If we haven't already contacted you, due to our remote monitoring services, give us a call at (831) 600-5528 and we'll schedule a visit as soon as possible.

Should my system smell?

In general, no. This may be a sign of system failure or upset in the biological process. If you notice an odor, contact us.

However, some smell is expected if:

-Your system is brand new. A standard septic system needs some time for the bacterial population to grow.

-Immediately after your system has been pumped or cleaned. Things get stirred up in the system when it gets cleaned or emptied, and this can cause an odor.

-After an extended power outage. The system could become septic and when the system restarts it stirs the system and may create some odor for a brief period.

Why is my dispersal field mushy?

Sometimes wet spots in a drainfield can be indications of a recent exceptional event (i.e. a big storm or a sudden and dramatic increase in water usage). If these events become commonplace then the field can become saturated and no longer capable of receiving any more liquid. 

Not pumping can accelerate this. Your system is designed to have capacity and settling based on usual use for the size home you are in, soil characteristics and proximity to limiting conditions. If the system is not pumped, solids accumulate and fill space in the tank(s) meant for liquid. The physical materials can clog the pores in the soil and prevent proper drainage. 

Sometimes it is just a system at the end of its life. In any case, please contact us if you have any concerns about your system. 

Can I use bleach and cleaning products without hurting my system?

From the EPA: "For the most part, your septic system’s bacteria should recover quickly after small amounts of household cleaning products have entered the system. Of course, some cleaning products are less toxic to your system than others. Labels can help key you into the potential toxicity of various products. The word “Danger” or “Poison” on a label indicates that the product is highly hazardous. “Warning” tells you the product is moderately hazardous. “Caution” means the product is slightly hazardous. (“Nontoxic” and “Septic Safe” are terms created by advertisers to sell products.) Regardless of the type of product, use it only in the amounts shown on the label instructions and minimize the amount discharged into your septic system."

For more information check out our Covid-19 and Your Septic System page

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What do I do if the power goes out?

During a power outage, try to reduce water use so as not to overwhelm your system when it can't move sewage and water through the system properly.

Contact us if your power has been out for more than 24 hours so we can determine together if anything needs to be checked on your system. 

Proprietary or alternative type treatment gravity systems may flow normally but without power will not treat the wastewater properly. Partially treated and untreated sewage will eventually flow to the dispersal system. How quickly depends on the type and size system you have. Some “gravity” technologies use a pump to move effluent to the next stage, then outflow. These can potentially not flow to the dispersal area and possibly back up into the source. In all events conserve water use. Know your system and what storage capacity you have.

The NEHA has a guidance sheet for septic systems during and after a power outage.

How often should I pump my system?

Standard systems should be inspected at least every 3 years, and pumped every 3-5 years. Alternative treatment systems should be inspected annually. 

Each site is different, and many thing influence how often a system needs to be pumped. These factors include: the number of people in your household, the amount of wastewater generated, the volume of solids in the wastewater (for example, using a garbage disposal increases the amount of solids), and septic tank size. The best way to know if your system needs to be pumped is to have us inspect it.

The County just sent me a letter saying my OSSP Inspection is past due. What does this mean?

Depending on your county there are requirements for your Alternative System to be Annually or Bi-annually inspected by an approved On-site System Service Provider. Essential Operations would be happy to provide that service and send the report in to the appropriate Regulatory agency. Go ahead and get in touch with us and we can schedule an appointment to come out and inspect your System. 

Should I turn my system off while on vacation?

Do not turn proprietary systems off unless directed by the manufacturer or an authorized service representative. This can be devastating to a system. 

Consult the owners manual or contact us to see if there are energy saving settings that can be employed.

Should I dump my RV waste in my septic system?

Do not dump RV holding tank waste into your septic tank. This can produce a large surge of sewage to the system and will force untreated effluent out of the septic tank into the distribution component.

Also, most RV owners use some type of odor control chemicals. These are usually blue liquids or tablets. These odor control chemicals are disinfectants to kill the odor causing anaerobic bacteria in the waste. When the disinfected waste is dumped into the septic tank it kills the bacteria in the septic tank system.

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What you can do to reduce your water use

Toilet flushing is a quarter of our daily usage. Simply not flushing urine each time can have a significant impact on water use. Quick showers and using a lundromat if you have to wash your clothes will take care of another quarter of your use. Also make sure there are no leaky fixtures like a running toilet.

An inaudible toilet leak can add 300+ gallons per day to your system. This can be checked a few ways, one of which is by dropping a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank then coming back 20 minutes later (with no use of the toilet) and if you see dye in the bowl you have a leak. 

Helpful Resources

EPA Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems

How systems work, how to maintain your system, why systems fail.

EPA Septic Systems Overview

EPA How Your Septic Systems Works

EPA How to Care for Your Septic System

NEHA Guidance for Septic Systems Before, During, and After a Power Outage


Water efficient products and tips.

Homeowner's Guide to Evaluation Service Contracts

Common terms and definitions, overview of wastewater treatment systems, how frequently service is needed.

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