FAQ about Residential Septic Systems

Frequently Asked Questions

Alarm going off? System design questions? Check our FAQ.

My control panel alarm is going off. What should I do ?

If the alarm goes off once, press the “Push to Silence” button; the system may just be alerting you to a temporary high level condition. If the alarm comes on again, call your service provider. If you don't have a service provider, contact your local Orenco distributor for references.

If your alarm periodically chirps, there may be a problem with the electrical circuit to your panel. Contact your service provider.

Do I really need a filter in my septic tank?

An effluent filter keeps solids in the septic tank, so they won't damage your treatment system, drainfield, or drip system. A filter is relatively inexpensive. Replacing a plugged-up treatment system or drainfield can be very expensive. Choose a filter that's made of corrosion-resistant materials; then make sure it has a large flow area so that you minimize maintenance. Our patented Biotube Effluent Filter has 2-7 times the flow area of other brands, so it can go longer between cleanings.

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Why does the septic tank have to be watertight?

If the tank isn't watertight, groundwater and surface water can make their way into (infiltrate) the tank, and untreated sewage can make its way out of (exfiltrate) the tank. With infiltration, your pump(s) will run more often than normal, which can lead to flooding of -- and destruction of -- your drainfield. Infiltration also reduces the amount of time that wastewater has to "settle" in the tank, which interferes with treatment. Exfiltration also interferes with treatment. Even worse, with exfiltraion, untreated sewage can flow into your groundwater.

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Do you sell septic tanks?

Yes. Orenco sells its patented, injection-molded fiberglass tanks through a network of trained and authorized tank assemblers, who test every tank for watertightness after it is assembled. Use the Where to Buy link at the top of the page to find your nearest Orenco distributor.

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What size septic tank do I need?

That depends on the size of your household. Typically, you'll need a 1000-gallon tank, at minimum, for a two-bedroom house, and a 1500-gallon tank for a three- or four-bedroom house. Check with your local regulator to verify what is required in your area.

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Can we put water softener backwash into our septic system?

No. Water softener backwash does not need wastewater treatment, and the salts and chlorides in it can cause problems with your system. Water softener backwash may be directly discharged to the ground in many locations (though it may damage plant life). Check with your local regulator for the requirements in your area. For additional suggestions, visit our Homeowner Do's and Don'ts page.

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Do your pumps use a lot of electricity?

No. The typical household septic system uses a 1/2 hp high-head effluent pump, which uses about $1/mo in electricity, depending on local rates.

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Do your pumps have to be repaired or replaced frequently?

No. We have found that our high head effluent pumps last more than 20 years. And unlike pump stations for conventional gravity sewers, maintenance is rarely required.

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My pump seems to be running more than normal. Why is that?

You may have a leaky faucet or toilet, which can add several hundred gallons to the septic tank each day. And if your tank isn't watertight, there could also be infiltration of groundwater or surface water into the system. If you eliminate these possibilities, then you can easily evaluate the performance of your pump. All you need is a five-gallon pail. Call one of our customer service representatives for more information: (800) 348-9843.

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Can your products be used with gravity systems?

Yes, with all sorts of gravity systems. We even have a mechanical product (dosing siphon) for dosing gravity drainfields without a pump.

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Do onsite systems smell? 

No. Not if properly designed and installed. Any wastewater collection system will smell if not properly designed and installed.

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What if something goes wrong? 

Your system will have a control panel with an alarm, and the alarm will alert you. Then you can call a local septic system installer or service provider. (Call your local Orenco distributor for references.) Your septic tank has a 24-hour "reserve" space, so you'll have time to get your system checked out. You can also purchase a telemetry unit for your control panel, which will automatically send a message to your service provider in the event of a problem.

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My control panel alarm is going off. What should I do ?

If the alarm goes off once, press the “Push to Silence” button; the system may just be alerting you to a temporary high level condition. If the alarm comes on again, call your service provider. If you don't have a service provider, contact your local Orenco distributor for references.

If your alarm periodically chirps, there may be a problem with the electrical circuit to your panel. Contact your service provider.

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