My toilets won’t flush, is this due to the system?

The problem could range from too much sewage in the system, to liquids not leeching out properly into the soil, or just a clog in the line.

Here’s a list of probable causes:

  • Blockage in the piping: This could be anything from non-biodegradable items to something biodegradable that has not had the chance to be broken down causing a blockage in the system. (hygiene products, diaper, condoms etc.)
  • Clogged pipes due to roots: After a long time tree roots can grow into the pipes and grow thick and strong from the nutrients flowing through the line. This clogs the line and needs to be snaked out.
  • Improperly installed plumbing: Lines are not installed with a proper pitch (angle the pipe slopes) allowing liquids and solids to separate clogging the lines.
  • Excessive amounts of water used: The Cesspools could be filled to capacity and there is nowhere else the water can go. Having extra people use the toilet or shower can add a big amount of water used daily. If possible, try to reduce the water used and the situation could resolve itself.

How do I find my Septic System?

Most of the time if you just check with your town, they will have the information about your system. If they don’t have records of this you can always do it yourself. Start by going downstairs into the basement, find the sewer line and which way it goes out through the foundation. This will point you in the direction of your septic tank/cesspool. The pipe will most likely go straight out and you just follow that pipe 10-15 feet away from the house. By law, the Cesspool must be 10 feet away from the house so this will help give you a good idea of where they are. Next, using a metal rod or something long and sharp enough to pierce through the ground you can push the dirt to see if the rod hits anything solid. Once you hit the Cesspool or Septic Tank you have completed locating it.

Other Tips to help you find it are:

  • Look for areas that slump in or protrude outward into a mound in your yard.
  • Look for a very damp area in the lawn. This will stand out more in times of dry weather.
  • Areas of the lawn where grass is greener or not as green.
  • If all else fails have a licensed contractor or professional come by, they will have no trouble locating it.

What does it mean when the ground over the Septic System is extremely damp?

There is definitely something wrong in this case. When the sewage water is beginning to surface or start collecting it becomes a health risk. Avoid this area and call a professional over to assess what needs to be done to fix the problem.

How long typically do Septic Systems last?

If a Septic System is properly installed and maintained it should perform for 30 years or more. If it is not maintained properly it will last much less time.

Is there anything I can do to make my Septic System last longer?

To make your system last as long as possible all you need is proper maintenance. Try to stay away from things that tax the system like putting too much water through. The system can only handle so many gallons per day. In addition, stay away from flushing things down that are not biodegradable like: hygiene products, cigarettes, diapers, condoms etc. Anyone of these items can reduce the longevity of your system when flushed down on a regular basis. If you have added bathrooms or sinks to your home additional cesspools may be needed. More importantly, it comes to usage and not total number of sinks, showers or toilets.

How does a Septic System work?

It begins with the waste water in the house getting sent out to the septic tank. In the septic tank, solids are then separated from the liquids. In this process, some of the solids float and others sink. For the waste on the bottom they will stay in first half of the septic tank while the ones float further away and continue down the lines into a Cesspool. Once in the Cesspool, the solids will stay there while the liquids will flow out into the soil. Throughout this whole process the bacteria in the system is constantly breaking down the solids from the Septic Tank to Cesspools. That is why a system can go many years without being treated. Now, depending on what is flushed down there can greatly vary the life of your Cesspool. If bacteria can’t break down something you flush, it could build up with other non-biodegradables over time giving an individual system problems. This is when you would need an expert to come in to pump your Cesspool.

What kind of additives can you add to the system?

There are two types of additives that can help the system. One is a chemical additive or an acid, and the other is a bacteria colony based additive. Both aid the system but in different ways. The chemical additive is used to break down thick debris on the bottom of the cesspool allowing the sewage water to leach out. The bacteria based additive is used to break apart the biodegradable materials faster by replenishing or increasing the entire colony count of the Cesspool.

How much does a Septic System cost?

Depending on what you are looking for it could vary widely. The best thing to do is get a free estimate and have an expert come to survey what needs to be done.

What can I plant over a Cesspool?

Typically, it’s not good to plant anything except for grass over a Cesspool. The reason being roots can enter the lines and create problems. Also, if someone needs to access the Cesspool they might have to remove or damage the plant(s) to get there.

Septic System’s Do’s and Don’ts


  • Do have your system inspected and pumped regularly
  • Do keep a record of pumping, inspections and other maintenance activities
  • Do know the location of your septic system
  • Do keep your septic tank cover accessible for inspections and install risers with lids if necessary
  • Do conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater your system must treat


  • Don’t allow anyone to drive or park over any part of the system
  • Don’t put harsh chemicals down the drain
  • Don’t plant anything over or near the drain field except grass as roots may clog and damage the drain lines
  • Don’t use a garbage disposal or dispose of undigested food products in the septic system
  • Don’t ever enter a septic tank – toxic gases can kill

CALL Orange Sewer & Drain for a FREE Estimate today!