Frequently Asked Questions


Our experts have put together some commonly asked questions to help you learn more about Hapchuk, Inc and the services we offer.

We also have a blog that features educational information about septic systems and wastewater management. Visit the Hapchuk Blog.

If you have a question that you can't find the answer to, please feel free to contact our experts today!

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How often should I get my tank pumped?

A:  The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA) recommends getting your septic tank pumped every 2 to 3 years, on average. Septic tank pumping frequency depends on several factors including the size of your tank and the number of people living in your house. Click here to learn more about your specific pumping needs.

Is my septic tank full?

A:  A qualified pumper will consider it “full” once solids fill 1/3 of the tank’s capacity. This is when your septic tank needs to be pumped. However, it is important to note that your tank must be full of liquid to operate properly, so don’t be surprised if the liquid level in your tank is near the top a few days after having it pumped out. Read this article to better understand how your septic tank works.

What does Hapchuk, Inc do when they pump my tank?

A:  Our technician will call you when he is on the way to your house. Once there, he will take off the lids of your septic tank and thoroughly pump out the tank using a vacuum truck. If you are available, he may ask you to flush your toilets to ensure that everything is flowing into the tank properly. For our customers who use CCLS Bacterial Enzyme, the technician can apply a treatment directly to your tank and deliver a supply to you. Lastly, he will place the lids back on your tank, clean up any debris, and return the hoses to his truck.

Do I have to do anything before I get my tank pumped out?

A:  Please know the location of your septic tank access ports and ensure that they are exposed. If your septic tank lids are buried underground, please dig them up. If you don’t know the location of your tank or are unable to dig up the lids, our experts can locate your tank and uncover the lids for an additional fee.

How much hose do you bring to my house?

A:  Our pumpers carry approximately 180 feet of hose. If your septic tank is more than 180 feet from your driveway or a roadway, please alert our customer service representatives so that we can arrange to bring additional hose.

Should I use a bacteria additive product?

A:  Many modern cleaning products (such as bleach and drain cleaner) as well as antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in your septic system. These bacteria are required to break down solids in your septic tank and properly treat your wastewater. If you wash cleaning products down the drain or use antibiotics, a bacteria additive can help maintain a healthy level of bacteria in your septic system. Hapchuk, Inc recommends regular use of CCLS Bacterial Enzyme.

What is CCLS?

A:  CCLS Bacterial Enzyme (known by many of our customers as “the blue stuff”) is a non-hazardous and non-toxic septic system bacteria additive. It come as a blue liquid in both 1-gallon and 1-quart bottles. CCLS is formulated to keep your septic system healthy by simply replacing the good bacteria that cleaning products kill.

What is okay to flush down the toilet?

A:  The safest answer is to only flush water, human waste, and toilet paper down the toilet. Even many products, such as wipes, marked as “septic safe” do not decompose in your septic tank. Never dispose of items such as diapers, paper towels, condoms, tampons, or any trash in the toilet. Flushing items like these will require you to get your septic tank pumped more frequently and can even clog your drain field.

Is it okay to use a garbage disposal?

A:  The use of a garbage disposal can increase the amount of solids entering your septic tank by up to 50%, making it necessary to clean your septic tank more frequently. Do not use garbage disposals excessively and avoid discarding grease down the drain.

What causes septic system-related problems?

A:  There are many factors that may harm the health of your septic system, but the number one cause of septic system failure is negligence. Because septic systems are out of sight, many property owners forget to perform the required maintenance on their systems. It is vital that you regularly have your septic tank pumped and inspected by certified professionals.

How does Hapchuk, Inc make caring for my septic system worry-free?

A:  The experts at Hapchuk, Inc have septic system maintenance down to a science. Our certified inspectors will evaluate your septic system, complete repairs when necessary, and advise you on a customized maintenance schedule. From there, we will give you a friendly reminder when your septic system needs serviced, and our pumping professionals will be there to empty your tank. With Hapchuk, Inc, you can simply flush it and forget it.

What are inexpensive ways to maintain a healthy septic system?

A:  The most cost-effective way to keep your septic system healthy is to get it pumped out regularly. The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA) recommends pumping every 2 to 3 years. Here are a few other inexpensive ways to increase the longevity of your septic system:  reduce your water usage by using low-flush toilets or energy efficient faucets; switch to septic-safe, all-natural cleaning products; and never flush trash or anything else that doesn’t belong in a septic system down the toilet.

What does a drain field do?

A:  A drain field, also known as an absorption field or leach bed, is a vital component of the septic system. While there are many different types of drain fields, their basic operation is the same. After solids settle out in the septic tank, liquid effluent is transported either by gravity or pump to the drain field. Here, the liquid is distributed through a bed or trenches of aggregate such as sand or gravel. The liquid is then delivered uniformly to the soil where it is absorbed and treated by natural bacteria.

Is it okay to plant trees or shrubs over my drain field?

A:  No. Aggressive roots from trees, shrubs, and other plants can clog and cause damage to your septic system and drain field. Only grass should be planted over a drain field. In fact, grass is actually beneficial to your septic system because it helps to prevent soil erosion, improves the exchange of oxygen in the soil, and aids in the removal of soil moisture.

Can I build a shed or park a car on my drain field?

A:  No. You should not build storage buildings, decks, driveways, and any other structures over your drain field. These structures prevent access to your septic system for maintenance, reduce the ability of water to evaporate from the soil, and restrict air flow to the soil. Likewise, you should keep vehicles, heavy equipment, and livestock off your drain field. The added weight can compact the soil beneath reducing your drain field’s ability to absorb and treat wastewater.  

Why is there a wet spot in my yard?

A:  There are several reasons you could have septic water standing in your yard. If it’s over your drain field, this may indicate that your drain field is saturated with bio-mat and can no longer absorb wastewater. Ponding around your septic tank can mean that your tank is overflowing due to a blocked outlet line. A wet spot elsewhere in your yard could suggest that one of your septic lines is broken and leaking. No matter the reason, the experts at Hapchuk, Inc can diagnosis your problem and provide you with a solution.

Why should I get my septic system inspected?

A:  A failing septic system can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair or replace. Worse yet, a malfunctioning septic system can lead to groundwater pollution and even expose your family, friends, and pets to waterborne diseases and other serious health risks. A certified septic system inspector will thoroughly evaluate your septic system to identify problems before they become dangerous and costly to fix.

How often should I get my septic system inspected?

A:  The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences recommends having your septic tank and system inspected every 1 to 3 years to protect against preventable long-term damage.

I’m buying a house with a septic system. Should I get it inspected first?

A:  Absolutely! You wouldn’t buy a home without getting a home inspection first, and you shouldn’t buy a home that has a septic system without first getting a septic system inspection. The septic system is one of the most expensive components of a house. If you buy a home with a malfunctioning septic system, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair or replace. As a home buyer, you can use an inspection not only to protect yourself from future expenses but also as a negotiation tool. If a home inspection revealed a leaking roof, you may pass on the house or negotiate the price down by a few thousand dollars. A septic system inspection is simply another tool in the home buyer’s toolbox.

Are there standards to ensure that septic system inspections are performed correctly?

A:  Yes. The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA) and National Onsite Wastewater Education and Research Foundation (NOF) have developed a set of standards for an objective septic system evaluation. Since 1989, these standards have evolved with contributions from Penn State University faculty, sewage enforcement officers, and industry experts. PSMA-certified inspectors must undergo rigorous training and education to develop the expertise necessary to conduct comprehensive septic system evaluations.

What is a PSMA inspection?

A:  A PSMA septic system inspection is a thorough examination and evaluation of every component of the system. During this inspection, the size, location, and condition of the septic tank will be determined. The system’s mechanical and electrical components will be discovered and examined. The drain field will be located and evaluated. Most importantly, our inspectors will present their findings in a comprehensive report that will indicate any conditions which may signal problems for future owners. While this report is not a guarantee, the conclusions it draws can save a potential buyer thousands of dollars in septic system repairs or replacement.

How do I know if someone is certified to perform a PSMA septic system inspection?

A:  When selecting a professional to inspect a septic system, you must ask four questions.
               1.) Is the company a member of the PSMA?
               2.) Is the inspector a currently certified PSMA inspector?
               3.) Will the inspection protocol be in complete conformance with PSMA standards?
               4.) Can the inspector show you the written standards that he or she will apply?
Make sure you get a “Yes” to each of these questions. Visit PSMA’s website or call them at 717-763-PSMA to locate a PSMA-certified inspector in your area.

What is a dye test?

A:  A dye test uses non-toxic tracing dye to ensure that wastewater is correctly routing into the septic tank and not elsewhere on the property. While it can be useful to identify a problem such as a leak in a septic line, a dye test is NOT a thorough evaluation of a septic system. During a dye test, a technician will flush dye tablets down toilets and drains, confirm that the appropriate wastewater sources are entering the septic tank, and walk the property to see if dye is surfacing anywhere.

My lender only requires that I get a dye test. Why should I pay more for a PSMA inspection?

A:  While your lender may only require a dye test, it is highly recommended that home buyers receive a full septic system inspection from a certified professional. A dye test can confirm what sources from a house or building enter the septic tank, and it can sometimes identify major malfunctions with a septic system. However, a dye test is very limited in what it can reveal. A PSMA inspection, on the other hand, is a thorough examination of every component of a septic system. When performed by a certified inspector, a PSMA inspection can identify existing problems that would otherwise stay uncovered, and it can find concerns that could turn into costly malfunctions in the future. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair or replace a septic system, so in the long run, a PSMA inspection is a cost-effective precaution that can save a home buyer a lot of money.

What is a grease trap?

A:  A grease trap is a vessel that is often required in commercial kitchens to collect fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) that are washed down the drains during normal kitchen operations. Some grease traps can be found inside the kitchen usually near the main sink, while others are located outside and underground. Because FOGs are lighter than water, they float to the top of a grease trap while the water sinks to the bottom where it flows out of the trap into the sewer.

Why do I need a grease trap?

A:  A grease trap is important to capture grease from a commercial kitchen before it makes its way through the pipes, solidifies, and clogs your plumbing. Furthermore, because most restaurants and food services are connected to public sewer, many municipalities actually require these facilities to install grease traps to protect the city’s sanitation system. Restaurants or food services can even be fined in some municipalities if they don’t have a grease trap or if they discharge too much grease to the public sewer due to not having their traps cleaned frequently enough.

How can I maintain my grease trap?

A:  The most important thing you can do to maintain your grease trap is to get it pumped out regularly.  We also recommend using a bacteria-enzyme treatment, such as BIO-REM E-D, to prevent grease from building up in your sewer lines. Additionally, you should always use a drain screen to prevent food waste and debris from being washed into your grease trap, and never pour fryer grease directly down the drain.

How often does my grease trap need pumped out?

A:  The frequency of grease trap pumping depends on the amount of grease your commercial kitchen produces and the size of your grease trap. The experts at Hapchuk, Inc can evaluate your particular situation to determine how often your grease trap needs pumped out.

Can I dump fryer grease down the drain? That’s why I have a grease trap, right?

A:  No! Grease will solidify as it travels through your pipes and cools down. If you dump large volumes of grease down the drain, you risk clogging not only your kitchen’s plumbing but also cause backups in the local city sewage system. Grease traps are only intended to capture the residual grease from washing dish, pots, and pans.

Where does Hapchuk, Inc take my wastewater?

A:  We dispose at our sister-company, Liquid Assets Disposal (LAD) – a wastewater pretreatment facility located in Wheeling, WV. We also disposal of wastewater at several different local municipal wastewater treatment facilities. This ensures that your wastewater is disposed of in a legal, responsible, and safe manner.

How does a wastewater treatment facility work?

A:  There are two basic stages of wastewater treatment. In the primary stage, solids are removed from the wastewater. First, the wastewater passes through a screen to remove large solids such as rags and sticks. Then, the wastewater goes through a series of settling tanks to remove grit and smaller suspended solids. Once the solids are removed, the secondary stage uses biological processes, such as trickling filtration and bacteria treatment in an aeration tank, to further purify the wastewater. When necessary, the wastewater will be treated further with chlorine disinfection before it is discharged into receiving waters.

Where does wastewater go after it is treated?

A:  Treated wastewater is released back into local waterways where it is used again for many purposes such as supplying drinking water, irrigating crops, and sustaining aquatic life. This is why it is so important not to wash products such as harsh cleansers, medicines, paints, or motor oil down your drains. Not only will these chemicals damage your septic system, but they can also make their way into our local rivers and lakes.

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