What is a septic system? Is mine legal?
By Indiana Administrative Code, “Any dwelling which is not connected, or cannot be connected, to a sanitary sewage system and which does not utilize a sanitary privy for its residential sewage disposal system shall be provided with a residential sewage disposal system which consists of a septic tank and a soil absorption system, which has not failed.” If your system does not have a septic tank and an absorption field, (leachfield) it is not legal. If your system drains to a field tile, drain, creek, stream, side-ditch, or something other than a leachfield, it is not legal. If your system consists of an aeration unit, or a sand filter, which is not connected to a leachfield, it is not legal.
Do I need a septic permit?
You will need a septic permit, issued by the Grant County Health Department, prior to repairing, replacing, constructing, or otherwise altering your septic system. The portion of your plumbing which is 2 feet outside of your foundation is considered part of your septic system; therefore any repair or replacement beyond this point will require a septic permit.
How do I get a septic permit?
You must fill out an application and get a soil analysis completed. The application can be downloaded from www.grantcounty.net, or you may call the Health Department and request one be mailed or faxed to you. The application needs to be submitted to the Environmental Office on the first floor in the Grant County Complex Building at 401 South Adams Street, Marion. An ARCPACS Certified Soil Scientist must be scheduled to complete a soil analysis at your location. A partial list of Certfied Soil Scientists is listed with our application. These are the ones that we typically see come to Grant County to work. A complete listing can be obtained from the Health Department. Once the Health Department has both your completed application and the soil analysis, we will send you the minimum requirements for your septic system. This will include the type of system, the different components required, the size and depth of the system, and any requirements for drainage. You can then take this to your septic contractor. Your contractor will then need to go to the site, design and layout the system, and shoot elevation shots. The contractor must submit detailed installation plans to the Health Department. The Health Department staff will then review the plans to make sure they meet the minimum requirements. When the plans have been approved, the septic permit will be issued.
How much will my septic permit cost me?
Permits for new construction are $150. Permits for replacement systems are $125. Replacement is defined as the installation or expansion of a soil absorption field (leachfield) with or without other components. Permits for repairs are $50. Repair is defined as the repair or replacement of any component other than the soil absorption field (leachfield).
How much does a soil evaluation cost?
The Certified Soil Scientists are independent contractors. They set their own fees. For specific fees, you will need to contact the soil scientist of your choice. We are told that they range from $350 to $400. They may be more or less depending upon the scientist and the amount of work they do.
How do I locate my septic system?
Current State Code requires all septic tanks to have a riser to the ground surface. So most newer systems, and many older ones, will have an exposed septic tank lid in the yard. The effluent sewer line will exit the septic tank and lead to the distribution box, which then leads to the absorption field. If you cannot locate the septic tank, the Health Department will do a records search, if you can give us an address. All of our newer permits, and some of the older ones, have construction plans which will show the locations of the components. If there is not a permit on file in the Health Department, we suggest calling a septic inspector to help you locate the system.
What can I do to increase the longevity of my septic system?
Proper maintenance is the key to system longevity. Regular pumping and cleanings are critical. Also, water saving devices and water conservation are very important. Food disposals cause the solids in the tank to build up faster. Powder laundry detergents, harsh chemicals, and some medication (like chemotherapy drugs) can cause the tank to need to be serviced more frequently.
Why do I need my septic tank pumped and how often do I need to pump my tank?
There are solids that collect in the bottom of your septic tank; these solids are not meant to pass into your absorption field. If these solids get into the absorption field, they can plug it and cause irreparable damage. It is important to have your tank pumped and cleaned on a regular basis to prevent the buildup of these solids and to increase the longevity of your septic system. Depending upon usage and the size of your tank, it is recommended that your tank be pumped and cleaned every 2-4 years. The use of food disposals, powder laundry detergents, excess amounts of cleaning agents and heavy use of medications (like chemotherapy) may lead to the need for more frequent cleanings.
Should I use septic tank additives?
The Grant County Health Department does not promote the use of additives to your septic system. The processes which take place in the septic tank are biological. A disruption in these processes can cause solids to be put in suspension and to pass through to the leachfield and plug the field. Additives may also disrupt the natural biological processes and the normal conditions in the tank are altered. There are some solids that will never dissolve and the best solution is to have the tank pumped on a regular basis.
What is a failing septic system?
A failing septic system is a system which exhibits one or more of the following:
- The system does not accept sewage at the rate of design application thereby interfering with the normal use of the plumbing in the home, such as gurgling toilets, back-up of drains, slow drains, etc.
- The system does not accept sewage at the rate of design application thereby causing ponding, seepage, or other discharge of effluent to the ground surface or to surface waters.
- Effluent is discharged from the system thereby causing contamination of a water source. This includes those system which do not have a leachfield (or drain into a field tile), aeration unit, or sand filter.