FAQs

How does a system fail?

If solids or scum are allowed to accumulate too long in a septic tank or treatment system they overflow into the dispersal field which causes a system “to fail”.

My system has to be pumped every year, why?

Frequent pumping may be an indication of a dispersal field failure

How do I know who is qualified to design, build or repair a septic system?

Wastewater practitioners authorized to construct septic systems are certified as follows:
Alberta – certified by the AOWMA and have a PSDS ticket issued by the Province of Alberta
British Columbia – have a valid Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner (ROWP) stamp issued by ASTTBC
Manitoba – have a certificate issued by Manitoba Conservation
Saskatchewan – no certification mandatory at this time

Professional engineers working in the onsite wastewater industry are certified by their provincial chapters:  APEGBC, APEGA, APEGS and APEGM.

Who pumps out septic tanks?

Vacuum truck operators, also called haulers or pumpers, who list themselves as sewage haulers.

How often should I pump my septic tank?

Every 2 to 3 years unless advised differently by your maintenance provider. Visit the maintenance section for more information.

What is Graywater?

Graywater is untreated household waste water which has not come into contact with toilet waste. Graywater includes used water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom wash basins, and water from clothes washing machines and laundry tubs. It does not include waste water from kitchen sinks, dishwashers or laundry water from soiled diapers.

In the Western Provinces, graywater must be collected by the septic system where it goes through the same treatment and dispersal process as blackwater.

How Does an Effluent Filter Protect my Drainfield?

An effluent filters installed in the outlet Tee aids in keeping solids out of the dispersal field.  Wastewater is forced through a fine screen prior to dispersal, ensuring that solids stay in the septic tank.  Solids are pumped out during regular maintenance. 

Effluent filters are well worth the cost of having one installed and are mandatory in some provinces such as Alberta.

How long should a Septic System last?

A conventional septic system should last anywhere from 20-25 years, or even longer, if it is properly installed and maintained with regular pump-outs every three to five years.

Is private sewage risky and less well treated than big pipe?

No. Private Sewage Dispersal Systems can match or exceed central treatment facilities for effluent quality.

What are the signs that my septic system may be failing?

  • Sewage odours indoors or outdoors
  • Water (sewage) surfacing in your yard (often above your leaching field)
  • Tile bed area is frequently wet and spongy
  • Backup of sewage into your house
  • A change in plant growth and algae (excessive growth) in nearby ponds and lakes
  • Contamination in well water tests (increased levels of nitrates and coliform bacteria)

Still Have Questions?

For answers to more of your questions, ways to get more from your wastewater system and lots of other useful information, consider purchasing our homeowner manual.