The Septic Alarm

The Septic Alarm

Having a licensed septic professional like Tri-County Septic, look over your septic system on a regular basis can save you time, money, and worry. Much can go wrong with your septic system, from corrosion in the tank itself, to an unprotected or malfunctioning float switch.

Newer septic systems have an alarm, some older ones do not, making it harder to know when the septic system is in trouble. However, if your system does have an alarm and your float switch is malfunctioning or doesn’t have the correct sealant to protect the wires, having an alarm does you no good. That green light just keeps blinking away.

The reverse of that is the alarm keeps tripping as if the septic system has a malfunctioning float switch. The job of the float switch is to detect when the water level in your septic system's pump tank is either too high or too low as either condition can cause damage to the system and this needs to be prevented. That is when the septic alarms are meant to go off.

  • Nothing lasts forever, and that includes the parts that are monitoring water levels.
  • The septic tank system alarm works with the use of a float that is placed inside the tank to monitor water levels. If the alarm continues to sound, call the septic company.
  • There will be a red light and a green light located on the alarm box. The green light should always be on.
  • If there is an alarm system installed in your septic tank, you might also hear a high-pitched noise when it is time to pump the tank.

A trickling noise, on the other hand, warrants an inspection from an experienced septic provider like Tri-County Septic to inspect the septic system.

What you don’t want to happen is the drain field becoming overdosed during periods of increased use. When a drain field is overdosed, meaning too much water entering it too quickly, it can be damaged, and the alarm prevents this from happening.

Causes for this to occur:

  • Too much water is being put through the septic system. From an uptick in laundry usage, more dishwashing than the usual amount, or many long showers, all can cause too much water usage.
  • Groundwater is getting into the system. The heavy rains of the spring and summer in NJ may seep into the tank. Standing water or puddles occurring around the septic tank is water that can seep into the tanks causing the water level to rise inside of the tanks.
  • Something can be wrong with one of the septic system’s components. The pump, floats, alarm, timer, etc. may have something wrong that is not allowing them to work properly.
  • This you can do on your own: Use as little water as possible during a period of 10-12 hours. If the red light goes out, the system is working properly. It needed to catch up with the additional water that was introduced into the system.

An alarm signal does not mean sewage is about to back up into the house. Alarms are installed to give you 24-48 hours of usage until sewage may start to back up. Of course, there are plenty of DIY videos for swapping out a float switch or coating wires and connectors, however, remember the whole of your septic system is filtering out contaminants, the fumes of which are often deadly. Call the experts at Tri-County Septic for the well-being of your family and the continuing health of your septic system.


What to do About a Lawn Too Green


If you have lush, green grass growing over your septic tank, it could mean that the hydraulic system is not working properly. The trenches in your leach field are filling with liquid waste because the soil cannot absorb any more water from your house. That wastewater is full of rich nutrients that give the grass over your septic system a good dose of fertilizer and turn it a bright shade of green. This is a sign of trouble with your septic. You want to call the experts at Tri-County Septic for them to come and investigate why your grass is quite so lush and bright green.


On the other hand, brown grass over your septic tank is actually a good thing. It means your septic system is working the way it is supposed to. Brown grass appearing during dry or warm weather usually indicates that your grass is not getting enough water. It is because the soil over your tank is not as deep as the soil over the rest of your lawn. Brown grass over the septic does not need watering, this is a good sign! It means your septic system is working the way it is intended to do.

Watering the brown grass with additional water reduces your leach field's ability to absorb wastewater from your house and may even lead to the failure of your system. Even though the grass turns brown because there's not enough soil to support its root system, you should not add topsoil over your tank. The system needs oxygen to help waste dissipate, adding water does not help this task.

Oxygen helps your septic field to function:

    • Septic tanks send liquid waste from the tank through a series of drain lines positioned throughout the leach field.
    • Microbes in the soil filter and clean the liquid waste before it reaches the ground water.
    • These microbes need oxygen in to do this work effectively. Compacted soil, or wet, soggy soil, has less oxygen in it.
    • Adding additional soil reduces the amount of air available to the microorganisms that break down the wastes in your system.
    • Maintaining your septic system saves you money!

When planting over your septic system, remember not to dig too deep. Drain lines can be as close as 6 inches from the top of the soil. Always wear gloves when working with soil over the septic system to reduce exposure to harmful organisms that may be present.

Plants that do not need much in the way of maintenance or watering are:

    • Ornamental grasses
    • Catmint Black-eyed
    • Susan Verbena
    • Grass

Planting any plant that can be eaten on a septic field is a poor choice. Leave those plants for a garden located away from the septic or drainfield.

Remember to call the experts at Tri-County Septic for lush grass or any other concerns with your septic system!

Where is my septic again?

Maybe you recently moved in, and the paperwork is somewhere ‘safe’, or you have been there a while and can’t remember how much of the yard the septic tank and drain field take up; it’s just that right now you can’t put your finger on exactly where it is and how often does anyone need to know where the tank is, anyway?

It is a good thing to be able to easily locate your septic tank, either for getting it pumped out or its yearly maintenance or in the event of a multi-day rain event, to make sure the tank is secure and undamaged. If you have been unable to find your septic, here are some steps to take.

  1. Let your sewer pipe lead the way:

Check the basement and look for the sewer pipe, locate the 4-inch sewer pipe where it leaves the house. Note that location as you will need to find it outside.


The Cost of NOT Getting Yearly Septic System Maintenance

Often the issue with the septic system is it being out of sight and often out of mind; keeping your present system healthy is, however, considerable cheaper than having to replace it. Having the professionals at Tri-County Septic out yearly for an assessment and every 3 to 5 years for a tank pumping means you have the advantage of catching any problems early on, rather than a literal ‘oh crap’ moment when signs of failure of the system are too obvious to ignore. At the point a septic problem becomes obvious, is also the point it gets expensive. A septic tank is a living filter that separates scum, solids and pretreats wastewater before it flows out into the drain-field for final purification.


Signs of septic tank failure include:

  • Lush, bright, green grass.
  • Soggy areas in the vicinity of your tank.
  • The smell of raw sewage.

Cost of excavating your property for a septic system will run into the thousands. This does not include the permits and the inspection fees, nor the surveyors needed to find another place to put the septic tank and the drain field on your property. Remember also that septic systems must be far away from waterways and private wells. If the present locate works well, seeking ways to preserve it if possible, makes sense. Preserving or replacing a septic system is literally many different moving parts that must come together for your family to have a functioning waste system. On average, a well-maintained septic system can last 20 to 30 years.

septic repairs

There are many different choices today for materials used for replacement tanks, concrete, fiberglass, polyurethane, etc. These different materials last for differing years of use and can reduce the costs of replacements. Again, professionals can help with the right choice for your family.


One of the several moving parts of your septic system is the alarm light and the alarm. Over time without regular maintenance, wires may corrode, leaving your alarm light merrily blinking green, while the alarm itself is rendered inactive. All parts of a septic system will need replacement over the lifetime of a septic system. Having the professionals at Tri-County Septic out to do regular maintenance as well as pump outs of the tank every three to five years means your septic system will have a long lifespan.

Actions to take for extending the life of your septic system:


              • Flush chemicals, solids, and oils down pipes.
              • Drive or park over the tank.
              • Use septic tank additives.
              • Have tree roots to grow into septic field.
              • Plant a garden in the septic field.


              • Plant trees far away from the septic field.
              • Plant only grass on top of the drain field.
              • Keep roof drains, sump pumps, and other rain water drainage systems away from your drain field area.

A caveat about your homeowner’s insurance is that lack of septic maintenance on your part means your homeowner insurance will not cover the replacement cost.

Just because you can do something legally in New Jersey, does not mean it ought to be done. Due to the hazardous and deadly nature of a septic system with noxious and deadly fumes, it is strongly recommended that you allow the professionals who do this for a living install the septic system rather that attempting this yourself.

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.

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.

septic bg

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 not allowing 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.



To our valued clients

Tri County Septic remains committed to ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of our clients as well as our employees. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 virus recommendations from the CDC and WHO in addition to local and state agencies during this changing situation.

We are open for business.

We also want to be proactive in the prevention of spreading COVID-19 and other viruses.

Tri County Septic will continue to take precautions as necessary to keep you and our staff safe during this time. Acting on the guidance from the CDC, local health officials, and our own protocols, here are the additional steps we are taking as we service your septic needs.

Our workers will use a new pair of latex gloves and/or sanitize their hands with each residence they visit.

Greetings by handshake in and outside the office are to be avoided.

Our employees are instructed to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth area.

ALL STAFF will follow procedures by properly washing or sanitizing their hands many times throughout the day (before/after eating, using the bathroom, after using any shared tools or office items, etc.)

Our team members are following the federal and state guidelines for social distancing by maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others and will not attend gatherings of more than 10 people.

Our office staff are working remotely and conducting business through online meetings and conference calls when necessary.

Only team members that are asymptomatic are permitted to work.

If you or a family member in the home is sick with flu-like symptoms and we are scheduled to do work at your home during this time, please inform us right away. 

Our staff reserve the right to remove themselves from any unsafe situation; this now includes contact with someone who has flu-like symptoms.

This is a fluid situation and we will update this page as necessary Thank you for being a valued client and we will always strive to merit the confidence you have shown in us.


water and your septic

Water and Your Septic System

As you know ALL water in the house runs into the drains and then into the septic system and later into the drainfield. An easy to ‘go green’ is fill cups or buckets with water when you are adjusting the temperature at the faucet or for a shower. It will mean less water impacting your septic system. This isn’t the ‘water’ usually thought of when trying to make life easier on your septic system. This water can be used for countless household applications from regular drinking water to watering houseplants to washing fruits and vegetables


Greywater emanates from bathroom sinks or showers as well as the washing machine. Unless the load includes human bodily fluids or recyclable diapers, in which case it is considered to be Blackwater.

  • Although Greywater contains some bacterial particles it can be used for other household needs like watering outdoor plants or washing the driveway.
  • Drinking Greywater is not recommended due to particle contamination.
  • Generally speaking you can dispose of Greywater on your own property.


Blackwater, however contains high levels of hazardous bacteria and is from both the toilet and the kitchen sink. This includes human waste, urine, other bodily functions as well as food scrapes and food particles all of which can produce hazardous bacteria.

  • Septic professionals should be called whenever dealing with anything to do with Blackwater.
  • The gasses released during the bacteria breakdown process are highly toxic and often deadly.
  • Always wear protective clothing and gear if you find yourself dealing with Blackwater.


  • Solids in the form of human waste as well as food waste will sink to the bottom of the septic tank and over time combine with other solids to form the sludge layer.
  • Grease and oils float to the top of the tank, combining to form a scum layer.
  • A normally operating septic tank that is in use is always full of sewage: a mixture of solids, floating scum, and septic effluent.

It is up to you to regulate what goes down your drains. As well as using water wisely this benefits not only your septic system, but also your home and family.

the perc test

The 'Perc' Test

A percolation test determines the soil's ability to absorb fluids for the installation of a septic system. A septic system uses a tank to collect a home's wastewater and solids where it breaks down through an enzymatic process. The fluid flows from the tank through the pipe that leads to a series of perforated pipes buried a few inches below the surface of the ground called a septic drain field or leach field.

leach field dos donts

Leach Field Safety: Dos & Don’ts

DO put grass seed or wildflowers above your leach field, but not any deep-rooted varieties. Be careful when tilling the area, because the field can be as near as 6 inches from the surface.

This is also the reason you want to maintain greenery above the leach field. It helps to prevent erosion. You’ll want to maintain the distance between the leach field and the surface.

You may also plant shallow rooted trees/shrubs such as Azeleas or Boxwood shrubs near the septic field.

DO NOT plant anything near a leach field that requires regular watering. The goal is to not have a saturated leach field. Adding extra water to the area on a regular basis can be a big problem.

DO NOT plant anything that grows 30 feet or higher within 30 feet of your septic. The roots can cause thousands of dollars in damages. Root barriers are an option for homeowners who don’t want to remove existing trees near a septic area, but removal is the safest long-term strategy. Willows, Pussy Willow Shrubs, Aspen, Birch, Beech, Elm, Ash, Tulip and American Sweetgum trees should be nowhere near your septic system.

DO NOT plant edible foods within 10 feet of the leach field. Chemicals and medications that get poured down your sink (even thought they shouldn’t) can contaminate the food.

DO NOT park a car or ANY heavy machinery on top of the septic drain field. Avoid anything that could do damage to underground pipe system.

DO NOT place playground equipment over the leach field. While it’s perfectly safe for children to play over the leach field, heavy equipment can be harmful the system, and even lighter equipment that is difficult to move can become a pain if you ever need to repair your leach field.

DO Call Tricounty Septic if your leach field is soggy or smelly or has developed an exceptionally green, lush grass over top. This is a sign of septic failure. (908)689-9088

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