What do I do if I need a new septic system?
1. Usually you will have some sort of effluent (septic grey water) leaking out of the ground near or on your leaching area. Sometimes it wont break out of the ground but will just start backing up into the tank and eventually into the plumbing of the house. A good way to check would be to open your septic tank cover and check the level of the waste in your tank. There will be a sanitary tee on the in and out of the tank. If the waste is above either tee that means your system is either not leaching or possibly some solids escaped out the outlet tee and is obstructing the piping to the leaching facility. A normal looking tank would have the waste just at the height of the bottom of the outlet pipe.
2. If you have come to the conclusion that you have a failed septic system your first step would be to call a local engineer. The engineer will quote you a price to do what is called a perc test. A perc test consists of an excavation company coming in and digging a minimum of two deep holes in your yard usually near your existing septic system with one hole having a shelf into what is considered good leaching material. The engineer then pours water into a hole dug on that shelf to test how fast the water will drain thru the material. The reason for two deep holes is to check for depth of water table and to establish the soils and elevations of those soil layers. The engineer will then take all that data from the perc tests and design a septic system that best suits your soils and amount of bedrooms inside your home. The perc test is witnessed by your local town health agent which is coordinated by your engineer.
3. Once your engineer has completed your septic design plan they will give you multiple copies so you can have an excavation company quote you a price for the work to be done. They will also be able to send you pdf files of the plan so you can e-mail copies to companies for quotes. You should always get a minimum of three quotes from three different excavation companies.
4. Septic systems vary in price, your price will depend on the size of your system and the soils you have. Some systems need what is called a remove & replace. That is when unsuitable materials are removed and screened perc sand is installed in its place. You should always hire a company that is going to include everything needed for the installation of your system including all labor and materials, loam and seed, and any repair to walls or driveway that may have been disturbed.
5. Negotiate a payment schedule with your installer that works for you both. Typically it is 50% upon start of work and 50% upon completion and issuance of certificate of compliance. The certificate is issued to the installer by the board of health that states the system was installed correctly by the plan and according to local and state regulations. The installer passes that along to the homeowner once the final payment is made. In some cases the homeowner may have sold the house and the system is being payed for at the closing. In that case the closing attorney usually may require the certificate up to a week before the closing date. In that situation the attorney will cut a check at closing directly to the installer. Since installing a septic system can be a large expense some homeowners apply within the town they live in for a Betterment loan to cover the installation of the septic system. In this case some installers will install the system entirely out of there pocket and when finished the town pays them in full.
6. All septic installers automatically have to warranty the installation of the system for 1 year. Some installers may warranty longer but any good company would help you out beyond that year expiration.
7. To sum this up, if you need A new septic system. Start by calling an engineer or A septic installation company that could put you in touch with A quality engineer. From there they will schedule A perc test with the town. Once the perc test is complete the engineer will draw up A design ,then submit it to the board of health for approval. Most cases you could have A approved design within 30 days. Some towns take longer then others for approval. Once you have the design from engineer you can then start shopping your design around for pricing. You should always get atleast 3 quotes for your design. We hope this information is helpful, we will try to add more as new homeowner questions are brought to our attention. Feel free to call us with any questions.