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Design FAQ's

We know that getting your septic system designed is an important step in the process of building your new home, remodeling your existing home, or repairing an existing failed septic system.  Here some answers to a few common questions regarding septic system design, review/approval, and installation:

HOW DOES THIS ALL WORK?

After setting up an appointment with us, we’ll meet you at your property to begin the septic system design process.  When we arrive, we’ll excavate soil logs to determine the type and depth of soil on your property; take measurements from property lines, roads, wells, shorelines, wetlands, and other critical items; and discuss with you your building and/or your repair needs so that we can accurately determine what type and size of septic system to design to support your individual needs. Payment is due at the time of your appointment.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

In order to ensure accuracy and expedite your design, there are a few things you’ll want to provide to us before your appointment: property address and/or tax parcel identification number, setbacks designated by Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD), property dimensions/location of property boundaries (including any easements or buffers), house footprint (if building), and water source (well or name of water purveyor). If your property is in Bainbridge Island, you'll need to contact City of Bainbridge Island (COBI) instead, as their regulations are different. 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

Once payment has been processed and we have received all the necessary items from the customer to begin the design, depending on the complexity, it typically takes 7-10 business days to have a septic design ready to be emailed to the customer for review and approval. If adjustments are needed, turn around is subject to complexity, communication and subsequent approvals. If no adjustments are needed and we have received written approval from the customer, the design will be submitted to the Kitsap Public Health District (KPHD) for their review, as soon as possible. The onsite inspector has up to 30 days to review the documents and make a site visit.  Depending on the time of year and the circumstances, we tell our customers to expect a 4-6 week turnaround time for approvals on septic designs.  Repair septic designs are usually submitted and approved quicker due to the possible public health risks from failed septic systems.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO INSTALL A NEW SYSTEM?

The cost to install a new residential system widely varies, depending on the type and size of system required. Typically, installation costs are between $6,000 and $22,000 but can be more or less depending on the details of the project.

HOW LONG DOES A SYSTEM LAST?

With normal maintenance and no abuse of the system, a typical system life expectancy is about 30 years. Some systems will fail sooner and others have lasted much longer.

WHAT CAUSES A SYSTEM TO FAIL?

There are many ways a system can “fail”. It can be as simple as a clogged pipe or burned-out pump, or as major as a plugged sand-filter or decreasing absorption rate of the soil, both of which typically lead to a system replacement.

As you can imagine, the liquid entering your system is full of organic matter. Over time, this organic matter can plug the pores in the soil (or pre-treatment filter) causing it to no longer absorb water. A household that generates a larger than normal volume of waste or if waste is stronger than typical for residents then it is likely to experience premature system failure.

CAN I CHOOSE ANY INSTALLER?

Yes. However, buyers beware. You want to protect your investment and failures often occur due to poor installation practices. If the drain field is not properly leveled, wastewater can overload the system. Heavy equipment can damage the drain field during installation, which can lead to soil compaction and reduce the wastewater infiltration rate. If surface drainage isn't diverted away from the field, it can flow into and saturate the drain field. In addition, if a septic tank isn’t watertight, water can leak into and out of the system, taxing it beyond it’s capabilities and can also cause a health hazard as the drainfield may become saturated with water or effluent. For this reason, please see the list of preferred installers on our resource page.  Check out our Preferred Installers.

WHAT IS AN SDAP?

 A Site Development Activity Permit is a permit that the Department of Comummunity Development reviews for land disturbing activities for major development, development in critical drainage areas (steep slopes, shoreline, closed depressions, etc) and for the use/improvement of unopened Kitsap County right away. For more information, click here

Monitoring & Maintenance FAQ's

Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen, phosphorus and disease causing bacteria and viruses. If the septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.

A key reason to maintaining your septic system is to save money and to protect the environment! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected regularly is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system.

Here are answers to some common questions we are asked regarding the operation and protection of an On-site Septic System (OSS).

DO I NEED MY TANK PUMPED EVERY THREE YEARS?

Not necessarily. We will be inspecting your system on a regular basis to ensure that it's functioning as designed, cleaning filters, flushing the system and monitoring the level of scum and sludge. We will let you know when the system needs to be pumped.

WHAT THINGS ARE OKAY TO GO DOWN MY PIPES?

What goes down the drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works. For the most part, your septic system’s bacteria should recover quickly after small amounts of household cleaning products have entered the system. However, if you’re wanting your system to last as long as possible and minimize the frequency of pump-outs, we often say “with the exception of toilet paper, if it doesn't come out of you–it shouldn't go into the septic system.”

IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD KEEP IN MIND REGARDING MY DRAIN FIELD AREA OR CONSIDER WHEN DESIGNING MY LANDSCAPING?

Yes, plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs can clog and damage the drain field. For more information click here

Don't drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drain field or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.

Keep roof drains, basement sub pump drains and other rainwater or surface water drainage systems away from the drain field. Flooding the drain field with excessive water slows down or stops treatment processes and can cause plumbing fixtures to back up.

ARE GARBAGE DISPOSALS OKAY?

Even if your system is designed for a garbage disposal, they are NOT A GOOD IDEA. They add lots of extra organic matter to the system, which can plug system components and the soil in the drain field. A system failure can result from usage of a garbage disposal.

IS HAVING A “LAUNDRY DAY” BAD FOR MY SEPTIC SYSTEM?

Doing all the laundry in one day might seem like a timesaver, but it could be harmful to your septic system. Doing load after load does not allow your septic tank time to adequately treat wastes. You could be flooding your drain field without allowing sufficient recovery time. Try to spread water usage throughout the week.

SHOULD I USE ADDITIVES IN MY SEPTIC TANK?

It’s normally not necessary. Septic tanks already contain the microbes they need for effective treatment. Some additives are nothing more than filler. They do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and some can actually harm your system.

Did you know?

If you have a clogged drain, don't use caustic drain openers. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.