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An estimated 40% of Connecticut residents, close to 1.5 million people, live in homes served by on-site sewage systems. The vast majority of these sewage systems are conventional septic systems that are under the jurisdiction of the Local Directors of Health, and are the primary means of sewage disposal in rural and low-density suburban areas. Septic systems also serve apartment buildings, schools, restaurants, and other commercial buildings in non-urban areas.
Understanding your Septic System
It is the intent of the Connecticut Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, COWRA, to help consumers understand how their septic system works and how to best maintain their system to assure its maximum life. This page will cover installation, pumping & cleaning, common pollutants of your septic system and inspections.
Please take time to carefully read each section so you can make informed decisions and know what to expect from the professionals who work on your system.
The installation or repair of a septic system can be a major expense for a home owner. It is important that you understand your system and hire a qualified expert, when needed.
Your septic system is an ecosystem. And, just like any ecosystem, it needs to be protected or it can be destroyed.
You can find our members indexed by Town or Company Name on our Members Directory page.
Septic System Installation
Do your homework when hiring a licensed Installer for installation or repair. Get references. Make sure they are in good standing with the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Your installer should know the current Public Health Code. If your installer is not a member of COWRA, how do they stay informed of the changes in the law? There are changes that take place in the law throughout the year. The changes are placed on the State website. Our members are sent newsletters with all State Circular Letters and changes.
Who should you hire to work on your septic system?
Members of Connecticut Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association are dedicated to a standard of excellence in their industry. Our organization provides education to our members and supplies them with all the updates and changes in the CT Public Health Code. Our members are informed of all new products approved by the State of CT. Hiring an installer who is up to date with CT standards, laws and approved products will ensure the installation of a quality septic system.
When hiring a member of COWRA for installation, repair, cleaning, design or inspection of your septic system, you can be assured that you are hiring an expert. (See links to our town-by-town Directories at the bottom of this page).
Connecticut Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association holds a 6 week Installers Course and Pumper/Cleaner Course each year, endorsed by the State of Connecticut.
Septic System Pumping and Cleaning:
One of the best protections for your septic system is a periodic septic tank cleaning. This should be done every 3 to 4 years, depending on usage and condition of your system. Regular maintenance of your system will add years to the life of your septic fields. Pumping/Cleaning should be performed only by persons holding a license from the CT Department of Public Health.
When your septic tank is cleaned a licensed cleaner removes dirt above your tank, exposing the cover. He then:
1. Removes and examines cover for defects
2. Cleans filter and baffles
3. Pumps solids and liquids from the tank
4. Examines the inside of the tank
5. Replaces cover and soil over tank
6. Files paperwork with town where requested
Most health districts now require the licensed Pumper/Cleaner to file a Permit to Discharge under the name of the homeowner when cleaning your septic system. If your town requires this, it is important that you hire a company that respects your town’s ordinances, so that no repercussions fall on you for failure to file.
Common pollutants that disrupt your septic’s ecosystem include:
1. Garbage disposal discharge
2. Water softeners
3. Bleach or chemical products
4. Very soft toilet paper products
5. Oil or grease
6. Baby wipes and paper towels
Septic System Inspections
It is also important for the consumer to understand septic system inspection when purchasing a property. All inspections are not created equal.
An Inspection of your septic system should include:
1. Check for high water levels
2. Septic tank is examined for stress cracks
3. A gallon-per-minute measurement is performed on water flow
4. The leaching field and surrounding area are walked to check for dye, excessive water and general condition
5. Baffles and filters are examined
6. A recheck of water levels is made
Some inspections may include:
7. A camera being sent through the lines
8. Septic pumping/cleaning
9. Dye is placed in the tank and a flow check performed, sending one day’s worth of water into your septic system
When considering the licensed professional for your septic system needs, consider a COWRA member. These professionals joined Connecticut Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association because they adhere to a standard of excellence and take pride in their profession.