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We’ve dedicated this page to answering about every septic, commercial wastewater, grease trap and sewer questions we can think of! You’re free to browse and learn everything you desire! Need more clarification or have a question we didn’t answer here? 

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Septic Systems 411
Maintenance & More

ADEQ Septic Inspections

Septic System
Repairs & Installs

Grease Trap & Grease Interceptor Service

Commercial Wastewater Interceptor Service

Sewer Inspections, Repairs & Replacements

F.A.Q.

Septic System 411
Maintenance & More

 

A septic system is an underground wastewater treatment structure commonly used in areas without centralized sewer systems. It is a two part system consisting of a septic tank and a disposal field. 

The first part of the system is the septic tankThis is where all the solid and liquid waste is collected from the plumbing lines inside the home. Think of it as the collection spot for everything that is flushed down a toilet or ran down a drain.

The second part of the system is the disposal field or leach field. This is where the effluent water from the septic tank goes to be treated before it is absorbed into the ground soil.

A septic system takes wastewater from your home to be recycled back into the earth. Wastewater is carried from your home by one main drainage pipe (commonly called a sewer line) into the septic tank. Once in the septic tank, solids settle to the bottom (forming sludge), while oil and grease float to the top (forming scum). T-shaped outlets (also called baffles) prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and entering the drainfield.

The liquid wastewater exits the tank  from a pipe known as a crossover line. From there, the water is distributed into the drainfeild. The drainfeild is where the wastewater percolates into the soil, naturally removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients. 

There a numerous ways of locating your septic system. 

– Looking on your home’s “as built” drawings. Sometimes these can be found on your county’s website.

– Checking your yard for cleanouts, lids, or manhole covers.

– Contacting a septic inspector or pumper to help locate. There are several tools experts can use to locate septic tanks including a camera. 

There are several reasons why it is important to maintain your septic system. 

-Proper maintenance keeps you and your neighbors healthy. If a system is working properly, it will remove most pollutants. Insufficiently treated sewage can cause groundwater contamination that can spread disease in humans and animals.

-Protecting your property value is another reason why maintaining your septic system is important. A failing or unusable system will lower your property value and pose potentially costly legal liabilities. 

-Maintaining your septic system also saves you money! Regular maintenance pumping fees between $300 to $700 is a bargain compared to the cost of repairing or replacing malfunctioning or failing systems. These repairs can cost you thousands of dollars. 

Additives are a controversial topic in the industry. While some claim their products break down sludge to eliminate the need for pumping, the effectiveness of additives has not been determined. 

Our take? Save your money.. septic tanks already contain the microbes they need to breakdown household wastewater pollutants. 

Upkeep of your system isn’t complicated and doesn’t need to be expensive. There are four major ways to help make sure your septic will work properly for many years.

  1. Pump frequently! Septic tanks are often recommended to be pumped every 3-5 years. However, with the recent boom of “flushable” products being sold and used, we recommend tanks to be pumped every 2-3 years. 
  2. Be aware of water usage. Efficient water use can improve operation and can reduce the risk of failure. Try scattering loads of laundry and showers to help eliminate overloading your tank. 
  3. Keep in mind that your toilet isn’t a trash can. A great rule of thumb is to only flush the “Three Ps”. Pee, poo and (toilet) paper!
  4. Take care of your drainfield. Be aware of where your drainfield is on your property before you landscape or decide to make the area your new driveway. Heavy items and roots from trees and plants can infiltrate and lead to structural damage. 

Keep in mind that all water from your household is sent directly to your septic tank. This means that the more water a household conserves, the less water enters the system. The system will be in use less which can help reduce the risk of failure.  

The only things that should be flushed down your toilet are the “Three Ps”. Pee, Poo, and (toilet) Paper. 

Other items that may seem harmless can cause serious (and costly) damage to your system. These include feminine hygiene products, condoms, dental floss, diapers, cigarettes, cat litter, household chemicals (gasoline, oil, pesticides, paint) pharmaceuticals, and baby wipes. Even if a product states it is “flushable”, it’s best to keep it from entering your system.  

 

Although your drainfield is underground, it is important to be aware of where it is located.

Refrain from parking or driving on or near your drainfield. Heavy items can lead to structural damage. Another way to add some protection, is to be conscious of your landscaping. Try planting trees further away to reduce the chance of root infiltration. It is also a good idea to keep roof drains and other rainwater drainage systems away from your drainfield area. Excess water slows down or stops the wastewater treatment process. 

There is no need to eliminate the use of your garbage disposal. However, just like your toilet, be aware of the items being put down the sink. Sludge and scum can accumulate more rapidly the more you use your garbage disposal.

Go for it! Just be prepared for major maintenance and repair costs.

It is recommended that you pump your tank every 3-5 years. With the recent influx of “flushable” products being used, we believe it is a good idea to pump your tank every 2-3 years for proper maintenance.

This is a controversial topic in the septic industry. Some companies claim that “pumping” can be performed through the tank’s 6″ inspection ports. While “pumping” will just remove the liquids and some floating solids from the tank, “cleaning” is much more extensive and will remove liquids along with floating and settled solids.

We believe that routine service should include removing both the liquids and solids (scum and sludge) from the tank. We refer to this as pumping. 

Whatever you prefer to call it, the septic tank should always be pumped from the large opening (manhole) in the tank. This is the only way to ensure all of the settled solids are removed. 

Around 2001, effluent filters started appearing in the rear chamber of two compartment tanks. Filters were added as another precaution in keeping solids from entering the leach field. Ideally, effluent filters should be cleaned annually, but cleaning them during your pumping service is definitely recommend.  

Baffles are also known as “sanitary T’s”. They are connected from the inlet (from the house) and outlet (to the drainfield) sewer lines. They push the solids into the water instead of allowing them to float on top. They also keep the solids inside the tank, preventing them from entering the sewer lines back into the house or out into the drainfield.

There are a few types of drainfields that can be found in Arizona. The most common are seepage pits, leach lines, chambers and leach beds.

-Seepage pits (also called dry wells) are vertical holes drilled into the ground by using a drill rig. These can range from about 20′-50′ deep and 3′-6′ in diameter. 

-Leach lines (also called trenches) are horizontal lines that range in 20′-100′ in length at a depth between 3′-8′. The trenches are dug using an excavator and pipe is laid on a gravel base. 

-High capacity chambers are poly cast covers that are laid into trenches that allow for much better absorption and flow.

-Leach beds (also called back hoe pits) are squared off , excavated holes about 8′-15′ deep and filled with gravel. These are rarely installed in Arizona after much more efficient disposal methods were discovered.

A distribution box is a concrete or poly box that connects multiple pits or lines into one central connection to the outlet line coming from the septic tank. They are also known as “junction boxes” or “D-boxes”.

F.A.Q.

ADEQ Septic Inspections

An ADEQ Septic Inspection is a required inspection of your septic system prior to a home sale. The septic inspection is not a certification or warranty that the system is going to work for any amount of time. All ADEQ Inspections must only be conducted by certified inspectors through NAWT (National Association of Wastewater Technicians). 

Our Certified ADEQ Septic Inspection Service includes all of these services.

-Camera locating of the septic tank
-Labor to expose the septic tank lids
-Thorough pumping of the septic tank & cleaning the filter
-Inspection of the baffles, lids, and effluent filter
-Water flow test to the disposal field to ensure function is good​
-Labor to restore ground that was removed for exposure

Once the inspection is complete, we will send the Report of Inspection (certification) and Notice of Transfer paperwork needed for your home sale.

The report that you will receive is called the ADEQ Report of Inspection. This is a 7-page document that includes all information about your system and what condition it is in. Along with the report you are given a Notice of Transfer. This is a 2-page document that is used to file the transfer of ownership from the current deeded owner to the new owner.

As a seller, you should have the septic system inspected within 6 month’s prior to the close of escrow, but no later than 20 days after the contract is accepted. 

While some sellers choose to wait until their house is under contract, we recommend scheduling your inspection as soon as the house is for sale. Put your buyer’s minds at ease by having a functioning inspection in hand! 

We do not require you to be home for your septic inspection, but you are more than welcome to be. We ask that pets and children stay inside while our work is being completed to ensure they are safe. 

You will receive your Report of Inspection and Notice of Transfer paperwork the same day the field inspection is completed. Prior to scheduling, we will collect your contact information so we can email the report directly to you.

ADEQ Septic Inspection Reports are valid for 6 months. 

F.A.Q.

Septic System
Repairs and Installs

Any decision to have repairs completed on your system for a house sale, is between you and your buyer. 

According to the OWTF Addendum, as the seller, you are responsible to pay for any repairs needed up to 1% of the purchase price. 

Septic tank should be pumped every 2-3 years. If you are needing to pump more frequently due to backups, there might be a larger issue. 

Depending on the age and upkeep of your system, the disposal field could be failing. If there are backups occurring on a regular basis, the disposal field may need to be replaced. 

Unfortunately, the majority of the time a drainfield is failing it needs to be replaced. It is not typical to be able to “repair” a drainfield if it isn’t functioning properly. A full replacement is needed.  

An alterations permit from the county will need to be applied for in order to install a new septic tank. You will need to provide the county with multiple documents including your property’s site plan, the structure’s floorplan. Providing a soil absorption rate (SAR), daily design flow (in gallons per day), and a sewer determination letter will also be required. 

An  abandonment permit will also need to be applied for to dispose of the old tank. 

An alterations permit from the county will need to be applied for in order to install a new leachfield. You will need to provide the county with multiple documents including your property’s site plan, and the structure’s floorplan. Providing a soil absorption rate (SAR), daily design flow (in gallons per day), and a sewer determination letter will also be required.

In some cases, site/soil evaluations, percolation tests or seepage performance tests, might be needed to know what drainfield is the most appropriate for your system. The tests are needed if there are not previous records or permits for your system. 

In the event that you are in need of a full system replacement, you will need to apply for a new system.

Phase 1 of permitting includes performing Site & Soil evaluations. Included in the Phase 1 application are these results, a site plan and a sewer availability letter. 

Phase 2 will include providing a full site plan of the property and a floorplan of the structure the system will be supporting. There is also an application for a Notice of Intent to Discharge (NOID).

Once a permit is provided, the install will begin and the project is complete once is passes inspection by the county. 

When a drainfield isn’t leaching properly, it most likely means it is failing. Effluent water should make its way from the back end of the tank out to the disposal field to be purified by the earth. A drainfield that isn’t leaching, isn’t allowing effluent water to enter the ground. This results in a multitude of issues, one of which is a backup into your home.

A cross-over line (also known as a tail pipe) is the pipe that connect the septic tank to the disposal field. 

Septic tank risers are attached on new septic tank installations; however, many older septic tanks do not have them. Septic tank risers bring the access of the septic tank to ground level or just below grade. This alleviates the need to dig down to the tank opening for regular maintenance pumping and inspections, saving you money!

It is a great idea to install septic tank risers prior to doing any extensive landscaping so that when the tank needs to be pumped, we will just have to take off a couple lids versus disrupting your grass, rocks or removal of stone pavers.  

Saving money and your landscaping? Risers for the win!

When remodeling, adding bedrooms or plumbing fixtures may result in surpassing your septic system’s permitted GPD (gallons per day). Give us a call and we can help you determine if you need to upgrade your existing system or permit for a new system. 

In locations where the soil is too shallow, dense or rocky, the water table is too high or another issue prevents you from installing a conventional system, alternative systems are considered.

Alternative systems typically come with a higher cost because they have moving parts and electrical components such as pumps, monitors and alarms. They also require an expert to test, design and install. Design of an alternative system varies based on soil type, site conditions and estimated usage. 

The first step is for installing a new septic system is applying for a permit. An important part of this process is conducting a site and soils evaluation. This will help determine how reactive your soil is and what type of system you will be best for your property. 

When permitting for a new system in Maricopa county, the first step will completing a GENERAL ONSITE APPLICATION FOR PHASE I SITE EVALUATION. This, along with a full list of necessary actions can be found at www.maricopa.gov/5372/Residential-Permits . 

The necessary tank size is determined by the estimated gallons per day (GPD) for the structure it is supporting.

The leachfield is determined by obtaining a Percolation Rate from a Perc Test, or a Soil Absorption Rate (SAR) from a Site and Soils test. The required square footage for the disposal field is found by dividing the GPD by the SAR. 

An alterations permit is used when only one portion of the septic system (septic tank or leachfield) has failed and needs to be replaced.

Common situations where an alteration may come into play are:

  • If the septic tank is corroded, deteriorated or cracked beyond repair and the disposal field is still performing well, you may only need to replace the septic tank.

  • If the disposal field is oversaturated or the structure is compromised beyond repair, yet the septic tank is functioning properly, you may only have to replace the disposal field.

The first step to connecting your home to the city sewer system is determining whether the sewer line runs close enough to your home, or if it is available to your home. If sewer is available, there are multiple permits that need to be applied for and obtained to proceed with the project.  

Our company can complete the project along with abandoning the septic once your home is connected.

 

Yes! While most properties have only one septic system, it is not unheard of to have more than one. It is most common to have multiple systems when there is a structure added to the property. This could include a mother-in-law suite, casita, shop, or barn. 

 

F.A.Q.

Grease Traps & Grease Interceptors

Grease traps are smaller in size and typically inside containers – either in the floor or under the sink.

Water is slowed down by the inlet baffle wall which allows for separation of solids and FOG. Solids are blocked by baffles on the floor of the trap. “Clean” water leave the trap through the outlet baffle.

 

Grease interceptors are larger and typically found underground and outside of the structure they support. Water is slowed down by the inlet downturn which allows for gravity separation of solids and fats, oils, and grease. Water flows through the baffles between each compartment further filtering out FOG (fats. oils and greases) and solids until “clean” water leaves the interceptor through the outlet downturn.

Grease traps should be pumped every 30 days. Records of the maintenance completed should be kept on file for at least 3 years.

Grease traps should be pumped every 90 days. Records of the maintenance completed should be kept on file for at least 3 years.

Proper maintenance is crucial to the longevity and effectiveness of a grease trap or interceptor. No interceptor or trap is 100% effective at retaining grease, oils, solids, etc. The longer they are left unmaintained, the more material can escape. As material, such as grease, leaves the device, it can coat the inside of pipes. This can lead to frequent costly hydro jetting of sewer lines. 

When a interceptor or trap in not properly maintained:

    • Excess buildup of the contents can lead to blockages or surcharges.
    • Missing or broken inlet and outlet baffles or baffle walls do not allow efficient separation of grease.
    • Grease entering the City sewer system can backup causing sanitary sewer overflows, blockages and stoppages.
    • Surcharging and blockages may force your establishment to shut down until the issues are resolved.
    • Grease over time becomes acidic and can corrode and destroy your interceptor or trap.
    • Holes in traps or interceptors can allow grease to penetrate the ground beneath the facility.
    • Additives are prohibited! Enzymes, bacteria, microbes, grease grabbers, grease liquifiers, and grease eaters should never be used and are harmful to the sewer systems.
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If you are experiencing backups, it is time for your grease trap/interceptor to be pumped. If you are on a regular pumping schedule and/or just recently pumped, your lines are most likely clogged. Jetting your sewer lines and pressure washing the catch basin could remedy a backup.

Any Food Service Establishment that introduces grease or oil discharges from kitchens, dish washing and any wastewater that is associated with food preparation should have a grease trap or interceptor.

F.A.Q.

Commercial Wastewater Interceptors

Commercial wastewater interceptors are installed to separate effluent water and solids. They are an attempt to eliminate the amount of FOG and other solids from entering the city sewers.

Interceptors work by slowing down the water from the inlet downturn from the structure it supports. Gravity then separates the solids from the effluent water. Once separated, the water is filtered as it flows through the baffles between each compartment. The effluent water leaves the interceptor through the outlet downturn.

Grease interceptors should be pumped every 90 days.

Properly maintaining your interceptor can help eliminate a plethora of issues from occurring. When an interceptor or trap in not properly maintained:

    • Excess buildup of the contents can lead to blockages
    • Missing or broken inlet and outlet baffles or baffle walls do not allow efficient separation of grease.
    • Grease entering the City sewer system can backup causing sanitary sewer overflows, blockages and stoppages.
    • Surcharging and blockages may force your establishment to shut down until the issues are resolved.
    • Grease over time becomes acidic and can corrode and destroy your interceptor or trap.
    • Holes in traps or interceptors can allow grease to penetrate the ground beneath the facility.

Additives are prohibited! Enzymes, bacteria, microbes, grease grabbers, grease liquefiers, and grease eaters should never be used and are harmful to the sewer systems.

If you are experiencing a backup shortly after pumping your interceptor, you most likely have a clog in a line or pipe. This can be resolved by jetting your lines.

City inspectors require pumping records on file for 3 years. 

Grease, lint, sand, and oil are the most common interceptors. 

There are many types of establishments and businesses that require a commercial wastewater interceptor. Restaurants along with other facilities that prepare or serve food and beverages have interceptors. They are also found in hotels, car washes, vehicle repair shops and laundry mats. 

F.A.Q.

Sewer Inspections, Repairs and Replacements

A video camera inspection is performed to provide a clear visual of the interior of your exterior sewer pipes. 

The pipes from your house to a septic tank, or to the city sewer, are not part of any inspection during a home sale. This leaves you vulnerable to thousands of dollars of repair costs if these lines aren’t working properly or are in poor condition.

Sewer lines can be made of several different materials. Older pipes are often made from cast-iron or Orangeburg plumbing material. New systems will be installed with PVC or ABS.

Sewer line failure can be a result of breaks, blockages, root invasion, joint-splints, compressions or bellies located in the piping.

We can definitely give you an ballpark estimate of what would be charged to replace a sewer line. We can also schedule to visit the property, measure and assess that needs to be completed. 

Priority Pumping can positively identify the point of entrance with our video camera inspection and correct the issue to prohibit the roots from spreading. This could involve replacing the pipe altogether. 

Yes, Priority Pumping can help you with this process. We are knowledgeable in permitting and will help you navigate your way through the paperwork and city processes in order to be able to tap into the city sewer system.  The old septic system is abandoned and the plumbing is re-routed in order to connect to the sewer.