Everything You Need to Know About Hydraulic Load Testing

  • By Rachel Kline
  • 05 Jul, 2016

Our realtor told us to schedule a hydraulic load test... now what?

Hydraulic Load Testing - Everything you need to know as a homeowner! Information, pricing and practical septic tips from John Kline Septic Services.

If you're buying or selling a home that's been vacant for a period of time, your realtor or home inspector may advise you to schedule a hydraulic load test. A hydraulic load test is done to ensure that a home's septic system is working properly and the absorption area can handle a specified amount of water. A new septic system is expensive so before you buy or sell a home it's important you know what your'e getting into!

So how does a hydraulic load test work?

A hydraulic load test mimics the normal operating conditions of a home's septic system and absorption area. The entire process is similar to a perc test. During a hydraulic load test, a known volume of water is introduced into the absorption area. We record the level of liquid in the absorption area both before and after the water is introduced. The following day we'll return and repeat the process. 

The hydraulic load test is used to verify that a septic system's absorption area can efficiently receive and filter a specified volume of liquid. This amount is based on what the system should be able to handle on a peak-flow day.  Things like house size and number of bedrooms determine how much water a septic system should be able to handle. 

Keep in mind, a hydraulic load test is only done when a home has been vacant, meaning no water has been flowing through the septic system or filtering through the absorption area. In an occupied home, septic problems would be evident with the daily use of toilets, dishwashers, laundry and showers. When a home has  been vacant, however, the normal operating conditions in the absorption area are not present for a septic inspector to observe. And the longer the system has been unused, the longer it will take for normal conditions to return.

Our technicians are certified to perform septic inspections for real estate transactions and we are proud to offer affordable hydraulic load testing throughout the Central, PA area. If you'd like a quote or for us to provide you with more information, contact us today! 

For more information, click here to visit the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association website.

The Poop Scoop

By Rachel Kline 10 Jul, 2017
The most common question we receive from homeowners is how often you should have your septic tank pumped.  While you may be hoping for a one size fits all answer, the truth is, it all depends on your tank size and the number of people using the system. There are other factors that can determine your pumping frequency as well - things like the age of your septic system, whether or not you have a garbage disposal, and your average water consumption.

A basic rule of thumb is to have your septic tank emptied every 2-3 years. NEVER go more than 5 years, regardless of your tank size or family makeup. It's also important to think about what kind of things you're flushing on a regular basis... When you have a septic system remember that there's no such thing as a "flushable" wipe! And always buy septic safe toilet paper. For more information on septic tank maintenance and what not to flush, click here .

Most townships require pumping every 2-4 years, so if you live in a township with a pumping ordinance you'll receive a notice in the mail when you're due to be pumped. If not, mark your calendar and use the chart below to determine how often you should have your septic tank emptied. Once we pump your septic tank we'll make a note of our recommendations and we can give you a reminder call when it's time to be pumped again.

If you're not sure of your septic tank size, here's an easy way to make an educated guess - Most septic tanks are based on the number of bedrooms in your home. If your home has 3 bedrooms, you most likely have a 1000 gallon tank; 4-5 bedrooms is typically a 1500 gallon tank. Older homes have smaller septic tanks so if your home was built prior to the 1980's you may need to have your tank emptied more often.

If you're not sure when your septic tank was last pumped, it's a good idea to have it emptied and inspected to prevent a backup and ensure it's functioning properly. After you have your septic tank pumped you won't need to do it again for 2-4 years. Just remember, the two biggest factors that determine your pumping frequency are...

1. How many gallons your septic tank holds
2. How many people are in your household

Use this simple chart to determine how often your tank should be pumped and give us a call to get started! We're happy to inspect your tank and drainfield and make any recommendations to keep things flushing smoothly. 

By Rachel Kline 09 Jun, 2017

A backed up toilet, sink or shower can be a real pain. But determining who to call can be an even bigger headache. Don't wait until you have an emergency to learn the basics of septic system maintenance! Get the facts.

The easiest way to know if your problem is septic or plumbing related is to count the number of fixtures backing up. If your kitchen sink is the only fixture clogged, you can call a plumber to snake the drain or get to the root of the problem. If you notice that all of your sinks are draining slowly, however, you most likely have a septic backup. Additionally, you can determine it’s most likely a septic system issue if the fixtures backing up are the ones closest to the septic system, such as those on the ground level or in the basement.

Here are more clues your problem is septic related:

  • Do a quick survey of your yard. If you notice a sewage odor or the area above your septic tank feels soggy, you’ve probably got a septic backup.
  • Check your calendar. If it’s been more than 2-3 years since you had your septic tank pumped and your fixtures are draining slowly, you most likely have a problem for a septic pumper – not a plumber.
  • Take a listen to your pipes. If you hear a gurgling sound or notice a sewage odor, it’s most likely a septic problem.
  • Think about your water usage. If you’ve been flushing paper towels or wipes you may have created a clog. To find the location of the clog, locate your septic cleanout pipe (a short PVC pipe located between the house and the septic tank that sticks out of the ground or is flush with it, and has a threaded, removable cap). If there is no standing water in the bottom, then the problem is a clog between the house and the cleanout, so you should call a plumber. But standing water in the main drain pipe at the bottom of the cleanout riser indicates that you have either an overflowing septic tank or a clog between the cleanout and the tank, so call a septic pumper!

By Rachel Kline 13 Mar, 2017

We’ve been in the septic business for over 60 years and we’ve dealt with tons of backups – the most common thing we find when we’re looking for the cause of the clog or backup, is flushable wipes! Yes, “flushable” wipes. Don’t let the labels fool you… There is no such thing as a “flushable” wipe when you have a septic system.

Unlike toilet paper that dissolves quickly as soon as it gets wet, baby wipes, cleaning wipes and makeup removing wipes are durable and can take years to break down and dissolve. Don’t believe us? Watch this video.

By Rachel Kline 30 Jan, 2017
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t give your septic system much thought until something goes wrong, and by then it’s often too late. Repairs can be costly, so if you’re buying or selling a home with a septic system, it’s a good idea to have it inspected to ensure that it’s functioning properly. The last thing you want is a backed up septic system just weeks before closing.

Home inspectors will walk through your home and check for things like structural safety, air quality, lead paint or mold - everything  inside your home. Most are not trained to perform an inspection of your septic system or the service is not offered at all. That's why it's important to call a septic expert. 
Our technicians are PSMA certified and licensed to complete septic inspections in Central Pa. We can provide you with a septic certification, a written document stating that an onsite sewage disposal system has been inspected and found to be in satisfactory condition according to current standards.

When you schedule a septic inspection with us, we’ll identify the location, size and layout of your septic system and answer any questions you may have as a potential home buyer, or seller. We can also perform a  routine pumping  at the time of your inspection if needed. Knowing the location of your septic system is especially helpful in the event you ever have a septic problem so we'll make sure you know where your pump alarm and other components are at - we can even draw you a sketch to keep with your house blueprints. 

Occasionally, in addition to a regular inspection you'll need a hydraulic load test to determine whether or not your septic system is functioning properly. A hydraulic load test requires two days to complete. On Day 1, the technician measures and records the water level in the absorption area and then begins adding clean water. Water is added until the absorption area reaches its maximum capacity or the full specified daily volume is introduced. The technician then measures and records the water level in the absorption area again.

On Day 2, the technician returns and measures the water level in the absorption area and adds clean water for a second time to make sure the tank will return to regular levels. For more information on how a hydraulic load test works, click here .

A Hydraulic Load Test is Needed... 

  • If you're buying or selling has been vacant for more than 7 days
  • If there's going to be new sources of waste water added
  • If there are signs that the tank has been leaking 
As a homeowner it's important to think of a septic system as another utility, just like your furnace or water softener. You wouldn't buy a home with a broken HVAC system, would you? With that in mind, remember to have a thorough septic inspection completed before buying or selling your home. You'll be glad you did in the long run! 
By Rachel Kline 18 Nov, 2016
You may not give much thought to your septic system but when you have a backup, you'll want to know why it happened. We have lots of customers that tell us that they've never had a problem until one night their pump alarm is going off or worse, they have a backup in their basement or bathroom! Fortunately, most septic issues don't happen suddenly, they occur over time so they can be prevented.

Here are some simple ways to spot a potential backup before it happens: 
  • Gurgling sounds when flushing or slow draining of your sinks and showers
  • Septic odor coming from your drainfield of sand mound
  • Noticeable soggy area above your septic tank or drainfield
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