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Septic System Design and Repair 101: An Interview with Terry Long of Long's Backhoe and Grading

By Terry Long

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Long's Backhoe and Grading started in 1986. We began with septic drain-field repairs; and through the years, we branched off doing all types of services including grading, clearing, demolition, pool digs, all types of pipe installation, etc. We do pretty much anything outside of a structure.

What is one of the most important considerations when you're designing a new residential septic system?

One of the most important considerations in designing a septic system is completing a soil evaluation from a licensed soil engineer. This will determine the best location for which area to install the initial drain-field and the location for the reserve drain-field. Having the reserve area determined is very important. This area needs to be left un-disturbed. If a pool, garage, etc., is desired, the homeowners need to plan these installations in other areas. Other things to consider include water wells, natural waterways, topography, and previous land disturbances (i.e. areas which have been filled or possible trash pits) all of which can effect drain-field location.

Can you briefly talk about some of the main options that homeowners have for their septic system, depending on the site?

The homeowner's options are limited to their county's Environmental Health Department's recommendations and their property's soil types. Options could include type of materials used for drain-field and possibly location depending on the soil conditions.

Is there anything that homeowners usually don't know about septic system design or repair that they should be aware of?

Having the tank pumped every 3 to 5 years is one of the best maintenance tips for homeowners. The disposal of cooking grease in a septic system is not recommended. It is also important to use liquid detergents in both your washing machine and dishwasher. If the drain-field needs to be replaced, the best decision a homeowner can make, whether the county requires it or not, is to obtain a soil report. This will tell them the optimum location and depth for a new or replacement drain-field.

Can you describe some signs that a homeowner has a septic problem he or she should consult a licensed contractor about?

If the toilets are flushing slow, "gurgling" sounds are coming from sinks, tubs, or showers, or if wet areas are found in the area of the septic tank or drain-field then these are all factors that show possible problems with a septic system.

Are there things that homeowners can make to help avoid unnecessary septic repairs?

To avoid unnecessary repairs a homeowner should avoid disposing grease down the drain, use liquid detergents, pump on a regular basis (3 to 5 yrs). It is also important for homeowners to monitor their water usage as these drain-fields are designed to accept a certain amount of gallons of water per day based on the number of bedrooms in the home and on the soil conditions. Wash loads and dishwasher loads need to be planned throughout the week and not in just one day. Fixtures such as faucets and toilet valves need to be checked and replaced as necessary. A slow leak in a toilet valve can saturate a drain-field.

Do you have any tips for people who are considering purchasing a house in Georgia with a septic system?

Things to consider when purchasing a home with a septic system are an initial pumping of the tank. While the tank is being pumped, check the integrity of the tank (i.e. the inlet and outlet connections in the tank are sturdy and intact and the system should not back flow from the system into the tank while it is being pumped). Another important item the homeowner can do is to contact the local Environmental Health Department to obtain any past history on the septic system.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?Our company has several ways to be contacted. For immediate contact they can call our office at 770-964-7043. We also have a website that has a direct connection to our email address. That website is Our email address is

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About The Author

Terry is a certified septic tank installer with 27 years of experience in the septic...

Phone: 770-964-7043

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