We hope this
report will be able to answer and enlighten you on some
of the many questions we get on a daily basis. Feel free
to contact us with questions. (386) 738-3030
One of the most popular comments that are made when I first
begin talking to these callers is “I don't know anything
about septic tanks or systems, and this is my first experience
with a septic system. What is going on?” “Can
you help me please?”
With over 46 years in the business we are happy to try and
walk you through and answer some of the questions you may
First a short lesson on what is a septic system. You have
a small waste processing plant on your property. If properly
maintained a good “Rock and Pipe” type of drainfield
should last well over 20-25 years up to 30-35 years. There
are other systems on the market and we will not go into
the differences here as they are covered in a different
| Every system starts
out the same:
When you flush your toilet or take a shower or clean
you dishes, or run the laundry or use any other water
system in your house that water and product goes into
a septic tank in your yard. It could be located in
the front, back or side yard. Regardless of what is
put down the drain, if it is solid body waste or just
plain water in most cases it goes into the same tank.
The septic tank provides the first step in treatment.
As waste water flows into the tank the heavier solids
sink to the bottom to form a sludge layer, and the
lighter solids, along with grease, oils, and paper
float to the top to form a scum layer. The septic
tank provides some biological treatment of the sludge
and scum layers that accumulate there.
This is a photo of our concrete septic tank with the
black filter port installed in the tank.
The drainfield is where the effluent enters the soil
and is treated as it percolates into the ground water.
The soil acts as a biological and physical filter
to remove harmful substances, including disease-causing
bacteria and viruses, toxic organics and other undesirable
wastewater items remaining in the effluent.
Outlet filters and baffles located in the tank also
help in this process by preventing the sludge and
scum from flowing into the drainfield.
of a bed drainfield without the pipe installed.
Good clean sand and soil below the drainfield is a
of septic drainfield bed with pipes installed. Waiting
for rock to be installed.
Notice the filter port in the background in the tank.
is a photo of a trench installation with the pipe
ready for rock.
Notice the two feet of separation of soil between
each row of pipe.
pipe is checked by laser before the rock goes in and
again after the rock is installed.
going into trench drainfield.
We use a rock truck with a 19 foot
long conveyer belt to lay the rock down in the drainfield.
The clamps are used to suspend the pipe off the bottom
of the drainfield, assuring you of the correct amount
of rock under the pipe around the pipe and on top
of the pipe. The clamps are removed and used on our
rock in a bed drainfield.
a bed drainfield with a laser to assure you of every
pipe being level to all the other pipes in the drainfield.
Notice the filter port in the tank in the left background.
photo of our patented header pipe connecting the lines
in a trench drainfield.
is a system we installed by putting the header in
the middle of a trench drainfield. Notice the back
section of the drainfield is already covered with
If the tank is not pumped regularly to remove the
accumulated solids, the tank will fill with sludge
and scum and the solids will be washed out into the
drainfield or clog the filter. This usually results
in back-ups in the house.
There are systems where laundry water
is engineered to go to a different septic tank. Laundry
water must never go to a separate septic tank without
a permit from the local environmental agency; you
could be sited and fined if these are found to be
happening at your home. Laundry water contains germs
that can spread disease. These separate systems must
be state approved with separate septic tanks and drainfields
installed. Most homes do not have the yard space for
In regular households with one tank, when the drained
and flushed items reach the septic tank the heavier
solids settle to the bottom forming a sludge layer,
the lighter items such as grease, oils, paper, body
waste and other items float to the top forming a scum
layer. Our natural body waste creates the correct
type of Bacteria to begin eating up these items turning
it into sludge which sinks to the bottom. Gases will
rise and exit back through the vents on your roof.
Homes that were built after January 1st of 1998 that
are on septic systems were mandated to be built with
a septic tank that has two compartments along with
a filter installed in the outlet end of the septic
tank. Filters and baffled tanks began to appear in
1994, so it is possible if your home was built in
the mid 90's it may have a baffle or filter. As the
liquid level rises in the tank it passes through an
opening in the baffle to the outlet side. The outlet
side of the tank should have nothing but liquid in
it. As the level rises it then slowly flows through
the filter into the drainfield. From there it is distributed
into a system of pipes and disbursed from the pipes
into the soil below.
view showing our newer tank with a built in easy access
filter port, which is the black item extending up
out of the tank on the outlet end. This tank also
has a baffle in it.
is a photo of our competitor's tank. Here you have
to dig up the tank and remove a 100 pound man-hole
lid to access the filter. Don't get any Hernia's lifting
that lid. Please don't fall into the tank.
note of information, the septic tank should never
be full to the top. There should always be an area
of at least 8 to 10 inches of air space above the
water level. This allows the smell, gases and odor
to escape through your vents on the roof.
A septic tank full to the top with the man hole lid
removed ready to be pumped out.
Note the inlet pipe is half under water; the water
level should be below the pipe.
The soil acts as a biological and
physical filter to help remove harmful substances,
including disease-causing bacteria and virus, toxic
organics and other undesirable wastewater items remaining
in the water.
If the tank is not pumped regularly to remove the
accumulated solids, the tank will fill with sludge
and the solids will be washed out into the drainfield
and clog the outlet filter in the process. This can
cause an expensive replacement of your drainfield.
The sand under your drainfield is one of the best
ways to treat this water as it slowly moves into the
The action of the septic tank is designed in such
a way so that when five gallons (as an example) of
water and waste flows into the tank, five gallons
do not immediately flow out. It may take a matter
of minutes or even a half hour before the water flows
out of the tank. The water flows into the tank from
the house under pressure, but exits via gravity. In
a system with mounds, the water is pumped under pressure
to the raised drainfield.
A note on earlier septic tanks. The tanks in use before
1998 were all one compartment tanks. On the outlet
end of the tank there should be what we refer to in
the industry as a “solid deflection device.”
What this device does, it is a solid piece of either
PVC or other material, usually with a 90 degree fitting.
This pipe extends about 18” down into the water
level area off of the bottom of the tank. Water rises
up inside this pipe and exits out towards the drainfield.
Also many tanks built before 1998 have what we call
a “D” box or distribution box that was
built into the septic tank. This diverted the incoming
waste downward into the tank towards the bottom. On
the outlet end the “D” box also built
into the tank had an opening near the 18” mark
where water rose up inside it and exited out towards
the drainfield. These tanks with the “D”
boxes helped keep solids from going into the drainfield,
but if the tanks got full from not pumping them on
a regular basis, solids could move into the drainfield
clogging it up.
One last thing we have found on many tanks, sometimes
a homeowner took it upon themselves to repair a drainage
line, by installing a new line and chopping a hole
in the side or end of the tank to accommodate it.
The law only allows one entrance line into the tank
and only one exit line out. When we find these issues,
the old tank must be replaced, so we caution you about
attempting any quick fixes. On your own.
Note of caution: Use good heavy
rubber gloves when attempting any of these repairs
How often should my septic
tank be pumped and cleaned?
Answer: a minimum of every 3-5 years regardless if
it needs it or not.
I'm getting a bad sewer odor coming into
Answer: this can be a multi answer because the problem
could be from several sources:
#1 There were a number of homes
built with an under the sink removal filter. Look
in this area of the “P” trap. It can be
a small 3-5 inches high attachment connected to your
drain. In many cases this filter can be removed and
#2 It could be caused by your roof
vent being clogged, by leaves or squirrels or birds
or other debris. Be very careful going up on the roof
to check it. We recommend a licensed plumber do this
#3 When was the last time you had
your septic tank pumped, is it overdo?
#4 Go outdoors and locate your clean-out
cap which is usually white about 3” inches in
diameter with a square top, located close to the house.
This is an access point in the main wastewater line
going from your house to the septic tank. Unscrew
it very carefully as it could be under pressure and
filled with water wanting to blow up at you. If it
is full it is time to pump your tank. You could have
a clog between the house and tank.
#5 Check your yard in the area of
the drainfield, is it soggy? The odor can be coming
from there. If it is soggy, stay out of that area
keep your children and pets out of the area, as it
can be contaminated water. Also check around the septic
tank as it could be overflowing. Normally you would
be expecting backups in the house.
My toilets don't flush like
they used to and it backs up in the shower or toilets?
Answer: This could be a big problem.
# 1 First of all check and see if
your children are missing any toys? We see a lot of
clogged lines with unbelievable things stuck in the
line. We even pumped a large beach towel out of a
septic tank. Don?t ask me how it got there? we have
# 2 See number 5 above. Check your
yard in the area of the drainfield and tank.
# 3 When was the last time you cleaned
your filter? It must be done on a yearly basis. Just
today by phone we helped a customer who bought a home
with a filter in the tank and knew nothing about it.
Cleaning the filter saved her an expensive service
call and she was one happy customer.
# 4 A short word about drainfields
and septic tanks. If the drainfield has failed and
it is full of roots or water then nothing can come
out of the pipes in the drainfield, if nothing can
come out of the pipes, then nothing can come out of
the tank, and if nothing can come out of the tank
it can?t come out of the house. So then you begin
to have backup problems.
# 5 Is it time to pump out your septic
# 6 Remember the septic tank should
be pumped every 3-5 years. We can help you with your
# 7 Check your outside clean-out
cap (the white 3 inch cap). If it is full then it
is not flowing into the tank. It may be time to call
a plumber or you can do it yourself. Get a “snake”
and start at the clean-out and go toward the tank
and then go toward the house to help dislodge the
clog. You can try using a high pressure hose with
a small nozzle on it and try and blow it out with
water. Be careful that you don?t push water back into
the house where it can come out in the shower or toilet.
Those with more experience can snake the line from
the roof vent or from the toilets inside. BE CAREFUL
# 8 It may be time for a new drainfield.
Call us 386-738-3030.
I've noticed wet spots in
the yard in the area of my drainfield what's going
Answer: wet spots in the area of the drainfield (leach
field) should not appear.
# 1 most of these problems have been
# 2 It usually is a sign of a failed
or saturated drainfield.
# 3 Make sure your house downspouts
do not empty onto the drainfield. They should be diverted
away from the drainfield.
When the laundry empties it
gurgles in the toilet.
Answer: These are indications of obstructions in the
# 1 something is impeding the water
# 2 tank needing pumped. Are you
missing a sock?
# 3 It is a good idea to space your
laundry loads out over a number of days. Some washers
can put close to 50 gallons of water into the tank
on each load. The septic tank can only drink so much
water at a time.
# 4 This is a good time to mention
you should change to liquid laundry soap. We have
found powered soap has a tendency to cake up once
it is in the tank, which can cause clogging in the
lines if it makes its way into the drainfield.
is an excellent picture showing a clogged filter.
Was it any wonder why the customer was having back-ups
in the home? Nothing could flow through this filter
into the drainfield. It should be cleaned at least
once a year.
Gurgling sound when flushing
and slow flushing.
Answer: Again here you could have an obstruction between
the house and tank.
# 1 Is it time for the tank to be
# 2 Clean your filter.
# 3 Check your house roof vents.
# 4 Another thing under the rim inside
of the toilet is located small holes where water flows
out to create the flush. It is possible for these
holes to become clogged with calcium. It is possible
to clean these holes with a straightened coat hanger.
The grass in the area of the
drainfield is greener than other areas of the yard?
Answer: A couple of thoughts here.
# 1 Is it saturated with water? It could be a sign
of what we call "Hydraulic Overload” indicating
way too much water is down there and working its way
to the surface from the drainfield. A sign of drainfield
# 2 Another answer could be a natural occurrence.
With the bottom of the drainfield being damp and the
sun shining like it does here in Florida evaporation
of this water is drawn up by the sun to the surface
thus watering your yard from below the ground.
# 3 Another reason why we don't recommend putting
sprinkler systems that spray water onto the drainfield.
It will get enough moisture on its own.
There is a depression in the
yard near the tank or drainfield?
Answer: This could be the sign of a tree rotting out
underground, or a hole in the tank where sand is slowly
sinking in. it may be time for a professional inspection.
Now might be a good time to
mention a few Don'ts. But first a
couple of “Do's”
Do- Have your tank pumped at least every 3-5 years.
Do- Clean your filter every year.
Do- Go easy on your water usage.
A few dont's
# 1 Please don't plant trees near
your tank or drainfield. We have seen roots travel
over 50 feet yes way beyond the canopy of the tree
to get to water. Roots can and will get in the tank
and drainfield. Once they get a taste of the nutrients
in the water it is like a tree on steroids. It will
grow like mad and very fast. Adding “Copper
Sulfate” into a septic tank in Florida is against
the law. Yes you can add it to the drainfield, and
yes it may kill the roots, but the roots remain in
the drainfield and tank although dead they still impede
the operations of the system.
Roots from a Magnolia tree right next to a bed drainfield.
is an example of a root that naturally made two (2)
90 degree turns around a “D” box on the
tank. This root wrapped itself around a “D”
box on a septic tank trying to get into the tank.
Once those roots get a taste of that septic water
it is like a tree or bush on steroids. They will do
anything to get to that water.
box roots completely covering the “outlet deflection
completely clogged up “D” box.
septic tank completely full with roots.
A real example that “Copper
Sulfate kills the roots but where do they go? Let
Yes you can add it to the drainfield, and yes it may
kill the roots, but the roots remain in the drainfield
and tank. Although the roots may be dead they still
impede the operations of the system.
of tank completely full of roots.
roots from the tank before abandoning it and installing
a new tank.
We know where the trees are, where does the roots
go? They go everywhere.
this photo we have Ron's plumbing of Orange City showing
a root that grew up inside the pipe all the way to
the toilet. Notice the “O” ring seal from
beneath the toilet where the root grew right around
it. Please don't plant trees and bushes near the septic
tank or drainfield
# 2 Do not drive vehicles and trucks
and boats over the drainfield and septic tanks. Riding
lawn mowers are okay. We make a good living replacing
crushed in tanks where drivers have done this. Put
barriers up to stop this practice.
# 3 Do not put fats, oils, and grease down the drain,
or down the sink or down the toilet. It creates a
scum inside the pipes and grows larger as more of
these items are introduced into the system. When pumping
the tank we have seen chunks of grease as big as basketballs
in the tank and we have pictures of grease logs over
18” long lodged into the pipes from the house
to the tank. See pictures below.
This is what happens when
you put grease down the drains in your home.
Please don't do this, yet everyone says they don't
put grease down the drain, but the proof is in the
pictures. This can create a very expensive repair
of your drainfield, as you can image what these customers
had to say.
was an 18” long log of grease caught in a pipe
going to the septic tank.
Over the years a lot of grease had worked its way
into the tank and then entered the drainfield damaging
it to the point where it had to be replaced.
If there is any one factor that causes more trouble
in septic tanks and drainfield it is grease. Followed
by using way too much water and also not pumping your
tank on a regular basis.
animal fats solidify at room temperature. The very
same thing happens when the leftover fat is poured
down the sink drain or into the garbage disposal.
It begins to congeal in the septic tank and sewer
lines. Please wipe your plates off with a paper towel
and dispose in the waste basket before washing them.
view of a different clogged pipe of grease.
is a different job where the same thing happened.
This grease had completely clogged up the pipe going
to the septic tank.
Looking up inside the pipe. It had a very narrow opening
in the bottom of the layer of grease, causing slow
drainage and flushing. Again resulting in a new drainfield.
# 4 Go easy on using
your garbage disposal, please keep it to a minimum
as the septic system does not like left over foods
thrown out of the refrigerator, or banana peels or
egg shells, potato peels, or lettuce ends or any other
raw or non-digested food items. It likes food that
has been through our system first.
# 5 Do not put out of date or old
medicines down the drain. Florida has a proper way
of disposing of these items. Check with your local
Environmental Health Department for proper disposal.
These medicines have been found downstream in waters
affecting the fish and other environmental species.
# 6 Don?t allow your water softener
back flush to enter the septic system. Harmful chemicals
can interrupt the bacteria action in the septic tank.
# 7 Don?t waste your money on additives.
Again our natural body waste creates the correct type
of bacteria for the septic tank to work properly.
Additives can suspend solids causing the drainfield
to clog. Additives only profit those who are selling
# 8 It is not necessary to pour yeast
down the drain. Again it is a waste of money. Let
me ask you three questions. Did you have toast for
breakfast? Did you have a sandwich for lunch? Did
you drink a beer last night? The system will get yeast.
Just think about it!
# 9 Clean out your shower drain,
I have seen very large clumps of hair stuck in the
drains. Bacteria does not like eating these items.
One other note on Dixie Septic
Tank Inc. We make our own concrete tanks,
(and yes we sell them to other installers,) we make
our own pipe, our own fitting, our own header and
crush our own concrete for use in the drainfield.
We may be the only company doing this in the United
We hold a number of patents on our pipe and systems
which we call
“Equal Distribution™ ®” meaning
when we are distributing the water in the drainfield
the whole drainfield is used, not just one end. Other
systems on the market are designed to just drop the
water at the beginning of the drainfield, and hopefully
it will work its way down the line.
We are a green company recycling to save our planet.
Feel free to call us with your septic problems. We
don't have all of the answers, but with over 46 years
in the business we do have many years of experience
we can share.
With this knowledge we hope to inform the public and
try not to make it such a taboo subject. With experience
You have by far a more superior system than even many
public sewer systems. One big reason is you can control
what goes down the drain, with this information you
are helping save the environment. Even the public
systems break down from time to time.
Remember the toilet is not a waste basket.