When Should I Upgrade My Septic System?

Septic systems are the heart of a home’s plumbing system. If there’s an issue with your septic, you’ll definitely know. Backups can occur, foul odors can fill your home, and your yard may become a soggy mess. There are a few occasions when you may want to consider upgrading your septic system.

You may want to upgrade your septic system to:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Increase time between pumping
  • Reduce environmental impacts

Upgrade a Septic System Based on Age

Septic systems can last 40 or more years before they need to be replaced. However, some counties are requiring residents to update their systems to advanced onsite wastewater treatment systems.

New advanced septic systems help keep drinking water and other water sources safer from nitrates and other bacteria.

A few signs that it’s time to upgrade the system based on age are:

  • You must pump the system more often to keep it functioning well
  • Draining from a sink or bathtub is starting to slow, potentially due to buildup
  • Water is beginning to stand in the yard

Standing water doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire system needs to be replaced, but it’s an indication that there’s an issue with your system. In most cases, if you have standing water, there’s an issue with the drain field that isn’t allowing the system to drain properly.

Blockages or damage may have occurred to the field, but replacement is the last resort.

Septic professionals can examine your current system, determine its efficiency and any issues with it, and recommend whether you should replace the system.

Upgrading Due to Outgrowing a Septic System

Septic systems require permitting because the size of the system is based on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home. For example, a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home will require a smaller septic than, say, a home with five bedrooms.

If you’re adding rooms and more people will reside in the home, the system may be unable to satisfy the needs of your family any longer.

Septic systems must drain into the earth, where organisms will help break down the liquid. However, if a septic system is too small for the amount of water consumption from the home, it can lead to issues with standing water and greatly increase the rate at which you must pump the septic.

When Is It Best to Upgrade Septic Systems Based on Cost?

If you’re considering a septic upgrade but your septic is still relatively new, now may still be the best time to do it. Suffolk County has approved $15 million in funding to help homeowners offset some or all of the cost of a septic upgrade.

Rebates and grants are available, for the time being, that can pay for a large chunk of upgrade costs.

However, these rebates may not last long. So, while they’re available, residents should take advantage of them.

What about the environment?

Finally, for those of you who are environmentally conscious, upgrading to an advanced nitrogen-reducing septic system is something you should consider immediately.

While all homes can make a difference by upgrading to an I/A OWTS system, those that are closest to waterways and water-sources will have the most immediate impact.

There is no bad time to upgrade your septic system for environmental reasons, but the current incentive programs certainly make this a great time to consider it!

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