Frequently Asked Questions and Common Terms
Septic System Testing
The purpose of a septic system evaluation is to ensure that the septic system meets all operational and construction requirements.
We add water directly to your leach field through a monitor tube, if possible. If the leach field does not have a monitor tube, or if it is plugged and won’t accept water, we test the system through the septic tank.
How much water we add depends on how many bedrooms the septic system serves, if we can test the leach field directly or must go through the septic tank, and how the system behaves during the test. If we test the leach field directly, we also add some water to the septic tank to check the connection from the septic tank to the leach field.
Measurements are taken from your water source to potential sources of contamination to ensure all separation distance requirements are met.
Please see the document Testing Methods and Limitations in the resources section for more information.
Septic tanks are typically made out of plastic or steel and occasionally concrete. Septic tanks have an internal baffle that separates it into two compartments that encourage solids to settle out of the effluent. Solids reaching a leach field will cause it to fail faster. Septic tanks should have two cleanouts, one on each compartment, to allow for proper maintenance.
Over time most wells in the Fairbanks area will accumulate deposits of calcium hardness and iron and manganese precipitates around the intake screens that can reduce well water production. We usually recommend that the well be treated with a chemical that can dissolve the solids around the intake, such as Nu-Well, which can be obtained from local plumbing supply outlets. It may take several applications, depending on the severity of the fouling, but it will usually improve water flow from the well. Alternatively, a well driller may be able to redevelop the well or blow out sediments clogging the intake.
Commonly Used Terms and Definitions
ADEC — The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is the agency that regulates water and wastewater systems in Alaska.
Bed or shallow bed — a type of leach field which generally uses multiple perforated pipes called laterals to distribute effluent through approximately 1 foot of leach rock.
Certified installer — a contractor approved by ADEC to install conventional on-site septic systems without an engineer. A list of current certified installers can be found on the ADEC website.
Cleanout — means to a sewer line or septic tank designed to provide access for the purpose of removing deposited or accumulated material or sludge.
Conventional on-site septic system — a system that treats domestic wastewater exclusively and meets the requirements of ADEC. It consists of a septic tank followed by discharge into a conventional soil absorption system (bed, trench, or leach pit), with or without a lift station.
Deep trench — A type of leach field which uses the sidewalls for absorption. Generally has 1 perforated pipe that distributes the effluent over the length of the trench. Typically has a depth of 5-12 feet of sewer rock.
Graywater — wastewater from laundry, kitchen, shower, or other domestic source that does not contain human waste including urine.
Groundwater — refers to water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations.
Leach field — a soil absorption system consisting of, at a minimum, screened sewer rock and perforated pipes or leach tank to distribute effluent for final disposal.
Leach pit — a soil absorption system which utilizes a perforated steel tank bedded in sewer rock to distribute and dispose of wastewater.
Monitor tube — a means to a leach field designed to provide access for the purpose of monitoring the water level or performing a septic test.
Private water system — a well or other water source which serves less than 15 connections or 25 persons, or which is operated less than 60 days of the year. Private water systems are not currently regulated by ADEC unless public health is threatened.
Public water system (PWS) — a well or other water source which serves more than 15 connections or 25 persons at least 60 days of the year.
Septic tank — usually made from plastic or steel, this watertight, two-compartment tank separates solids from the liquid and allows clarified liquids to discharge for final disposal.
Sewer line — a pipeline, usually consisting of ABS or PVC material, which carries domestic wastewater from a structure to a wastewater disposal system.
Sewer rock — screened or washed gravel free from fines. Gravel ranges in size from 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches for bed systems and 3/4 to 3 inches for trench or pit systems.
Soil Absorption System (SAS) — an onsite wastewater treatment and disposal system that is of typical trench, bed, leach pit or mounded above-ground design.
Unconventional on-site septic system — generally refers to an above-ground system installed in areas where soil conditions are not suitable for a conventional system. According to ADEC regulations, an engineer is required to design this type of septic system, oversee construction, and receive approval from ADEC for both the construction and operation of the septic system.
Open Monday through Friday 9:30 - 3:30
1449 Gillam Way
Fairbanks, AK 99701
We accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards!
Open Monday through Friday
9:30 - 3:30
1449 Gillam Way
Fairbanks, AK 99701