Signs of Septic System Troubles

The septic system is used to dispose of all the waste from the household. Like any other machine it needs regular maintenance to make sure it is healthy and running well. It is important to remember that all the water from your shower and other faucets ends up in your septic tank. All the water that leaves your house through a drain goes into the septic tank; shower, laundry, kitchen sink as well as your toilet, all go to the septic tank.

Signs of Septic System Troubles:

Some of the signs that your septic needs to be seen by the experts at Tri-County Septic are:

  • Frequent clogged or slow drains: Your septic is connected to every drain in your home.  If one or more drain is showing signs of frequent clogs or drains very slowly, it can be a sign of septic blockage.
  • Sewage backup:  When the septic is not pumped regularly, the waste already in the tank has no place to go and may back up into your home. This makes for a smelly and uncomfortable home experience.  Call the experts at TriCounty Septic, now, to resolve this issue.
  • Bright, green grass: The ground surrounding the bright grass is likely to be spongy. This is a sign that your septic system is in distress and overwhelmed.
  • Regular Gurgling Noises:  Pipes that make constant gurgling noises are another sign that all is not well with your septic system. When the toilet is clogged, try plunging it.  If it still is blocked, it could be the septic tank itself.

Regular maintenance and having the tank pumped regularly can make many of these issues disappear. Keep a record of when the tank is pumped.  Have a septic tank professional out yearly to check on the septic tank and drain field. Never enter your septic tank, due to the toxic fumes inside, it can be deadly without the right protection.  Leave this to the professionals. When a septic tank is not regularly pumped the capacity is diminished. The use of drain cleaners is actually bad for your septic system, not only does it harm the pipes but additionally, it will destroy the good bacteria and put the system off-kilter.  And you will still have the clogs and smell you were trying to get rid of. By taking care of your septic tank, system and drain field, you will have drains that drain, toilets that flush, and no unpleasant odors.

Contact the professionals at Tri-County Septic to diagnose and repair any of your septic systems issues.


3 Septic Tank Nevers

Three Septic Nevers

The only items that go down your pipes and into your septic tank and drain field are what dissolves. Grease and oil, either as a result of cooking or frying when warm can slide right down your drain. The problem occurs when the grease and oil cool and become a congealed mass. This does not dissolve and remains as a mass in your septic. Over time, the mass becomes very thick which will cause the scrum layer to push down into the liquid level and possibly reaching the exit pipes of the septic system.

Three culprits in clogging your septic systems:

  • Grease and oils
  • Cat litter
  • Paint or paint thinners (hazardous waste)

Your septic's main job is to dispose of the affluence in the home.  For such an unseen machine, its job is to break down waste and render it harmless. Pouring grease down a drain, will over time, ends up clogging your drain and nothing will get through.  Too much grease and oil bogging down your septic functionality can make it back up, in turn, causing serious as well as expensive damage to it.

Disposing of grease and oil, including olive oil, properly is a great habit to get into.  After cooking or frying pour all grease in a can, let it cool, and throw it away. Wipe pans out with a paper towel and toss them in the trash.  

Once or twice, allowing grease or oil down the drain is not the problem. The issue becomes when the septic system cannot do its job at dissolving matter. The septic systems distribution lines and drainage field can also be affected.   Grease that you pour down the drain ends up floating on top of the water in the tank and interferes with the way water and the broken-down waste flow out into your septic leech field. Developing good habits to dispose of grease helps protect the septic.

A septic system pumping and disposal will help to remove grease and fat, this is a job for the professionals at Tri-County Septic.  If grease and fat is not removed from your septic system, your septic pipes may have to be dug up and replaced.

Anything other than waste and toilet paper does not go in your toilet.  Cat litter, even if the label says septic safe, is not safe and needs to go out in the regular trash.  Cat litter clumps and does not dissolve. Also, by the nature of what cat litter is used for, there are microorganisms that can cause illness.  Cat litter can cause serious damage to your septic system.

Hazardous waste, which includes paint and paint thinners is far too corrosive for your septic. Even washing off paintbrushes or rinsing out paint cans or cans of paint thinner need to be outside and away from your septic. These liquids will eat away at the tubing and filtration system in your septic.

Avoiding items that harm your septic system will go a long way to allowing the septic to do its job of breaking down waste and keeping not only your family but the neighborhood groundwater and wells safe.


Fabric Softeners, Dryer Sheets and Septic Systems

Septic Systems - Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets

dryer sheets

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, sometimes tossing a dryer sheet into the toilet is just easier. Or using fabric softener in the washing cycle. And yet, it is. Fabric softeners, like many other household cleaners and chemicals, can have nasty effects on your septic system. It is a two-fold issue.

  • Chemicals in the fabric softener attack your septic system as well as interfere with the tank’s physical functioning.
  • The quats, chloride salts, are used in fabric softener and sulfate salts are used in dryer sheets. Both are troublesome for your septic system. They are not only antibacterial, allowing them to kill off the good bacteria in your system’s tank, but they also contain nitrogen.
  • Nitrogen runoff, whether from agriculture, landscaping, or septic systems, is the leading contributing factor to harmful algae blooms that are a growing problem impacting groundwater.

Fabric softeners or dryer sheets are also petroleum-based, as in oil-based. Using a fabric softener into the washing machine is just like pouring and grease down the drain. Fabric softeners add to the layer of scum floating on the surface of your tank’s effluent.  When the scum layer becomes too thick, it will be able to flow into your drain field, potentially causing damaging clogs or possibly a system failure. Fabric softeners also contain emulsifiers which is to prevent the oils and chemicals from separating in the bottle. The issue becomes, when these emulsifiers find their way into your septic tank, they interfere with the tank’s natural settling process, preventing the solids from settling to the bottom and the oils and grease from rising to the top. This means solids will be suspended in the effluent that flows out into the drain field, which isn’t designed to handle solids. Clogs can occur.

Softeners are great for keeping your clothes soft, it can wreak havoc on the good bacteria that does all the work inside your septic tank.  If you have used fabric softener with your septic system, keep an eye out for signs of septic system failure.

Signs of septic problems:

·       Lush, green grass above or around your system.

·        Foul odors in and outside your home.

·        Gurgling drains.


If any of these signs occur, call the professionals at Tri-County Septic.

There are ways to have your clothes lint and static-free without the harmful chemicals of fabric sheets and fabric softeners. Alternatives include:

·       Add a half cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cycle.

·       Make your own dryer balls using foil.

·       Purchase wool or silicon dryer balls.

·       There are reusable dryer sheets.

·       Baking soda, a half-cup mixed with water, added to the final cycle.

If there is a particular scent or essential oil you enjoy, these can be added to the vinegar, baking soda, or to the dryer balls, usually about ten drops.

Protecting your septic system needs to be a priority for its health and productivity.  Tri-County Septic can answer all your questions about keeping your septic system and drain field healthy for years to come.


Keeping Your Septic Field from Harm

Keeping Your Septic Field from Harm


It is tempting, with all the space that the septic field takes up, and how it could be better used for. Resist that urge. Your septic system is handling all the waste your home turns out and that is a big enough job without making it work harder. What’s worse, is that if gardening or landscaping choices do get it the way of the septic or the drain field, it may not work as well, and no one wants that.

What not to plant near your septic field:

Trees with encroaching roots - Those roots can invade the drain field and it is possible for them to crack the tank itself. Trees need to be planted well away from the septic system either at the property line or 20 feet away.  Shallowly rooted trees like the dogwood or holly shrubs are better but still need to be 10 feet away.

Trees with roots that seek water - The roots of water-craving plants grow down to the pipes and have a better likelihood of interfering with the pipes to find water.

Vegetable gardens - Nutrient-absorbing plants, like root vegetables and other vegetables, will likely take in bacteria if placed too close. While it is true that vegetable gardens do well in manure, human waste doesn’t have the same properties. It is not safe to eat food crops grown in the ground around a drain field because eating them might entail ingesting harmful bacteria.

Plants that can be planted on a septic field include:

  • Ornamental grasses
  • Regular lawn grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Creeping Charlie
  • Jewelweed plants

These plants will multiply and cover a septic space nicely.​ The shallow root systems are unlikely to invade the underground system and cause damage. These plants will also prevent erosion by holding onto the soil and suck up some of the excess moisture from the drain field.

Another way of keeping your septic drain field safe is not using it as a parking area or a play area. The weight of vehicles will damage the pipework supporting your septic tank. Limiting the amount of foot traffic near your septic will prevent damage to the system. The professionals at Tri-County Septic will be able to give you help in deciding how best to protect the septic system and drain field, so it gives your family years of comfort with a well-maintained system.


5 Signs Your Septic Needs Pumping

The Five Signs Your Septic Needs Pumping

If you wait far too long to pump out your septic tank several obvious and often smelly consequences will occur. Septic systems sadly don’t come with bells and whistles, except for the green/red light in your basement. However, having regular maintenance done for your tank as well regular inspections to check on the health of your system; not only means less possibility of stench in your home but also more money remaining in your pocket. The professionals at Tri-County Septic are available to help you help your septic system stay healthy!

If your drains begin to gurgle, which will be obvious when the toilet flushes or you turn on a faucet, call for a septic pump. This is one of the minor signs that your septic may be backing up. It could also be completely unrelated, such as having a birds nest in the plumbing vent to your roof. It's important to have this situation assessed so the proper professional can be called.

Signs your septic system needs help now:

  • Odor – As the septic tank fills up there is less room for the odor causing gasses in your tank. And these gasses are deadly. Only a professional should be handling this occurrence.
  • Bright green grass over the drainfield – this is a sign of your septic overflowing, and when it has no place to go, your lawn becomes its option.
  • Sluggish or backed up drains – Your septic is in distress as there is not longer room for your septic to process the effluence of your household.
  • When water begins pooling around the septic or drainfield, this calls for immediate attention as the system is being overwhelmed.
  • Raw sewage – The smell alone should be a sign to call in the professionals. Raw sewage backing up into the home is another call out that your septic needs fast assistance.

Remember, a septic pump which should be done every three to five years costs a few hundred dollars to keep your tank healthy; replacing your septic tank and drain field costs 10s of thousands in New Jersey. 

We've seen a lot of horror stories, and we don't want to see our customers get stuck with a failed real estate transaction or drained savings account. Regular pumping can save you a lot of pain and heartache. 

getting the right septic tank

Getting the Right Septic Tank

Having a licensed septic professional look over your septic system on a regular basis can save you time, money and worry. Much can go wrong with your septic tank, from issues with the tank itself or the contents within the tank. Proper Maintenance allows your tank to last a good long time.

Septic tanks come in a variety of materials:

septic repairs


  • These are the most common type of septic tanks.
  • They are susceptible to cracking or having seam separation.
  • Can last 40 or more years when properly maintained.
  • Will require heavy machinery to shift into place.


  • These are lightweight and less vulnerable to cracking
  • The lower weight makes them more likely to suffer structural damage.
  • Tanks can shift in the soil.
  • Environmental changes like soil erosion or soil acidity can have an effect.
  • Tank can be repaired far easier than either steel or concrete


  • Less costly as there is no need for heavy machinery.
  • Incapable of rusting.
  • They can be damaged upon installation.
  • The tank can float to the surface if not properly installed.
  • Will last 30-40 years.


  • These are the least durable. A steel septic tank will more likely rust out due to soil acidity, steel quality and coating integrity
  • The covers often the first thing to corrode, leaving a dangerous access to the tank.
  • If buying a home with a steel septic tank, get an inspection prior to closing.
  • Lifespan is 15-20 years if maintained properly.
  • Due to rust and often developing perforations (holes) over time, they are difficult to remove.

Having Tri-county Septic professional team on your side will help with deciding which tank is right for your family size as well as what works on your property. Additionally they can help with the regulations regarding your town’s ordinances as to which septic tanks are acceptable.

After having your tank installed, there are a few things for you to avoid to make sure your tank last as long as it can.

  • Never park cars or trucks on top of the septic tank or the drainfield.
  • Plant only grass seed on top of the tank and drainfield.
  • Plant trees well away from the area and look for trees without extensive root reach.

By working with a professional septic company and taking reasonable precautions your septic tank, whichever one is chosen, will last for many years to come.

why maintaining your septic is crucial

Why Maintaining Your Septic System is Crucial

If you like saving money and don’t like stinky surprises, then getting your septic system on a regular plan of maintenance is the way to go. Most people are only concerned with getting their septic tank pumped, not realizing that the system has other parts which are important as well. Yes, of course getting your septic tank pumped needs to be done on a three to five year basis. Having Tri-county Septic come out to do it, enables them to also check on the condition of your tank and its components. Septic tanks like many things in life do not last forever, having a professional do an assessment for dings or cracks is a cost saving measure.


Is your float switch active?

Most septic systems have alarms, many people see the green light flickering and assume everything is okay. The problem arises when the alarm is no longer attached to anything. Often over time the coated wires become corroded, leaving an alarm’s green light blinking merrily along. Generally, the alarm is connected to the float switch. When the float rises it is supposed to set off the alarm which is a red light along with beeping, it is a warning that the liquid inside the tank is rising. This can only happen if the alarm is functional.

Other reasons the float switch might activate:

Too much water is being put through the septic system.

Several long showers as well as an increased amount of laundry can cause too much water usage. Sometimes the solution is an easy one. Use as little water as possible for a day or so and do a couple of pump cycles to see if the float regulates.

Ground water is getting into the system.

Heavy rain may cause seepage. When too much standing water occurs around the septic tanks, the water can seep into the tanks causing the water level to rise inside of the tanks.

Something may be wrong with one of the septic system’s components.

The pump, floats, alarm, timer, etc. may have something wrong that is notallowing them to work properly.

As you can see having a properly working alarm system allows for you to have advanced warning on a possible failing of your septic system or its components. Letting the professionals at Tri-County Septic maintain your septic system is a win for you.

Before Your Septic System Fails

Before a Septic System Fails....

It Leaks

Out of sight out of mind is great for some things and not for septic systems. Although your septic system is hidden, it still needs regular maintenance. Let’s look at some of the common reasons your septic is leaking.

  • Clogs in the pipes from solids. Many items should NOT go down your drains, grease and oils from cooking should be disposed of separately.
  • Other blockages can be caused by trees planted too close to the system.
  • Broken pipes or sewer lines in the system.
  • Failure to maintain the septic system.

Routine maintenance includes pumping the septic tank every 3 to 5 years, depending on the system you have and how many people are using it. A yearly inspection can prevent small issues from becoming expensive repairs

Other signs your septic system may be leaking:

  • Foul odor- Smelling sewer gases. One of the system's lids could be damaged or out of position. Sewer gases could also be escaping from the tank body itself, it might be the tank body may have cracks or holes. See how long the odor lasts and where it is coming from, the tank or the drainfield.
  • Soggy ground– You may notice that the area around your tank is soggy; this could be septic tank water coming out of the ground. However if you have an inground sprinkler system, check that first.
  • Standing water around the septic tank- When soil is exposed to wet conditions over long periods, it will often get compacted. If there is a leak in your tank, water coming from the leak could cause the nearby soil to settle and drop down as a result.
  • Alarm Sounds- Newer septic systems have a built-in alarm that will alert you of problems. These alarms either emit a beeping noise or flash a red light, and they can be located either inside or outside of your house. It is important to be mindful of them and test them yearly to make sure the alarm is working.
  • Cleaning products can kill the useful bacteria- The bacteria found in a septic tank helps break down the wastewater before it continues to the drainage field. When the levels of bacteria in the tank are insufficient, the solids will not break down. This can lead to clogging of the pipes. The levels of bacteria can drop as a result of cleaning products present in the wastewater. Cleaning products that are toxic to human beings will also kill off the bacteria that are necessary to maintain a septic system. Be aware that cleaning products of bleach, toilet cleaners and disinfectants ought not make their way into the waste piping.


  • Find the exact location of your septic system – generally it will be ten to fifteen feet out from your basement access
  • Call the professionals at Tri-County Septic to address your concerns and maintenance of your septic system


  • DO NOT pump water from your tank into your yard. This is fecal matter and other pollutants which can poison the ground as well as children and pets. Also water from your tank will adversely affect ponds or streams it runs into.
  • DO NOT attempt to go down into the system without wearing protective gear. The gasses are poisonous. It is time to call in the Pros.

Taking the time to keep your septic system in good repair not only helps extend its life, more importantly it keeps you and your family, as well as surrounding waterways safe.

septic pump

Does Your Home Need a Septic Pump?

What is a Septic Tank Pump - and Do You Need One?

Most septic tanks do not require a septic tank pump. (Not to be confused with septic tank pumping, which is the process by which your tank is emptied by a Septic Company. All septic tanks need to be pumped, in that sense.) A septic tank pump, on the other hand, is piece of equipment placed inside of a septic tank to help disperse water above the percolation area to the drainae field. 

A septic tank pump is necessary when the leach field or drainage field that the waste water seeps into is at a higher point than the septic tank, eliminating gravity as an option for flow dispersal. 

If I Need a Septic Tank Pump, Do I Need to Replace My Entire Septic Tank?

Unless there are other major problems with your septic tank, you will not require a septic tank replacement to install the pump. If your septic tank has multiple chambers, your pump can be intalled in your existing septic tank in the final chamber of the tank. 

If you have a single chamber septic tank, you do not want to place the pump directly in the tank as it will pump settled solids into your leach field. If your leach field becomes saturated or compacted, it will result in improper drainage and without leach field rejuvenation, can potentially damage your entire septic system. 

If your septic is a single chamber system, then a pump station can be installed near your septic tank to house the pump. There are filters than can be installed on your pump station to keep larger debris and effluent out of the pump. These filters should be removed and cleaned every 2-3 years, which is the same recommended schedule for septic pumping services

Septic Tank Pump Alarms and Controls

Septic Tank Pump alarms can be installed to give warning in the event of a pump failure or clog. These alarms are activated by a loat switch that is wiered into an alarm panel and can give you much needed notice that maintenance and repairs are required. If you have a septic tank pump alarm and it goes off, please call Tri-County Septic right way before it results in greater damage. 

Schedule Your Septic Service Today!

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