Residential Services

SepticTankPhoto0Unfortunately, in far too many cases, septic systems are installed and largely forgotten – until problems arise. That old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

Malfunctioning septic systems release bacteria, viruses, and chemicals toxic to local waterways. When these pollutants are released into the ground, they eventually enter streams, rivers, lakes, and more, harming local ecosystems. Household wastewater is loaded with disease-causing bacteria and viruses, as well as high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Regular maintenance fees of $200 to $300 every three to four years is a bargain compared to the cost of repairing or replacing a malfunctioning system, which can cost between $3,000 and $7,000 for a conventional system.


Four major factors influence the frequency of septic pumping, household size, total wastewater generated, volume of solids in wastewater, septic tank size. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years.

Once we have established your frequency of pumping A 1st Rate pumping has a reminder program to help. Our current customers love this. We also examine the system and will recommend suggestion to improve longevity septic tank.


Conserving water to reduce the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated and distributing water flow to the septic tank over an extended period of time will extend the life of a system. Wastewater should remain in the septic tank long enough, at least 24 hours, for heavy solids to settle out, forming sludge, and light solids to float to the top, forming scum. Except for the period immediately after pumping, however, a septic tank contains wastewater to its full capacity at all times. As a gallon of wastewater flows into the tank from the house, a gallon of effluent flows out of the tank into the drain field. If wastewater moves in and out of the tank too rapidly, due to constant flow for extended periods, or heavy water flow at any time, solids remain suspended in the wastewater. This means they may move with the effluent out of the tank and into the drain field. Solids can clog a drain field, decreasing its ability to treat wastewater. This can lead to costly repairs or even replacement. Conserve water and spread out water usage by following these suggestions:

Wash one or two loads of laundry a day, rather than three or more loads in one day. The high efficient washers do make a difference in not discharging a full load of water at once like the older washers.
Install low-flow water fixtures, low water-volume toilets, and low water-use appliances.
Check for and repair leaky faucets, toilets, and other leaks in the plumbing system.
If you use a water-softening unit, select one with demand-initiated regeneration. This means regeneration is determined by measuring gallons of water used, or by measuring the change in the electrical conductivity of the resin bed, or by sensing a change in water hardness.
Manage what is flushed down the toilet or drain to reduce the amount of solids in wastewater. More solids in wastewater will require more frequent septic tank pumping. Follow these tips:
  • Do not flush cigarettes, diapers, feminine hygiene products, paper toweling, facial tissue, or “wipes.” They may not break down readily and will contribute to the scum or sludge layers. Dispose of these items with other solid waste.
  • Do not overuse the garbage disposal. It grinds up food products that settle out in the tank, adding considerably to the sludge buildup and the amount of organic matter that needs treatment.
  • Do not put grease or oils down the drain. Grease and oils from cooking, frying, and skin lotions increase the scum layer in the septic tank.
  • Use liquid detergents instead of powdered detergents. Powdered detergents have “fillers” in them that add to the sludge layer.
  • Use toilet tissue that breaks down rapidly. Test by placing a tissue sample in a jar of water, covering the jar opening, and shaking vigorously. The toilet paper should fall apart rapidly when the jar is shaken.
  • Do not dump unwanted pesticides such as herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides down the drain.
  • Do not dump paints, thinners, or solvents down the drain.
  • Do not dump excess medications down the drain.
  • Do not overuse cleaning products, including bleach and drain cleaners, and do not dump excess cleaning products down the drain. A septic system can handle typical amounts used for routine cleaning, as well as normal-use amounts of anti-bacterial soaps.
  • Avoid using automatic toilet cleaning dispensers that release bleach with every flush. This can reduce populations of bacteria in the septic tank that break down waste.
Research shows that septic system starters, additives, or feeders are not necessary to keep a system working and are not a solution for improperly installed, designed, or maintained systems. In some cases, additives may keep materials suspended in the wastewater and allow them to flow out of the tank where they can clog the drain field. Follow these recommendations:
  • Do not use septic system starters, additives, or feeders. These upset the natural balance of your system by killing off the good bacteria and you will need to pump your tank sooner.


While the drain field does not require maintenance, a few precautions will help ensure proper functioning and a long service life. The drain field should not be inundated with excess water, as extra water will reduce the ability of wastewater to percolate through the soil as needed for proper treatment. The drain field should not be compacted; compaction will prevent the drain field from treating wastewater properly. The structural integrity of the drain field must be maintained. Follow these tips to protect the drain field:
  • Divert surface water runoff from roofs, downspouts and such to areas away from the drain field.
  • Do not add large amounts of water to the drain field by using automatic irrigation systems. You should only water as necessary to maintain the grass cover.
  • Do not drive vehicles or agricultural equipment over the drain field.
  • Do not site dog kennels or other animal confinement units over the drain field.
  • Do not construct driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, patios, or buildings over the septic tank or drain field.
  • Maintain all required setback distances when adding buildings or other improvements to the property.
  • Do not place additional soil over the drain field other than to fill slight depressions. A slight mounding will ensure runoff of surface water.
  • Keep rodents and other burrowing animals out of the drain field area.
  • Take care when planting trees or other deep-rooted plants. Determine the distance from the trunk to the drip line (outermost edges of branch tips of mature plant). Plant the tree or shrub at least twice that distance from the drain field. Do not plant trees with invasive root systems, such as cottonwoods or silver maples, as they may clog or damage pipes.
  • Establish and maintain grass over the drain field. Do not plant vegetables or other annuals that require digging in the soil due to potential contact with pathogens. In addition, the soil will be bare at times, reducing evaporation of water to the air.
  • Mow grass frequently to encourage growth.
  • Reserve a replacement drain field area and manage it the same as the present drain field.