FAQ's

MAP Engineering has, over the years, collected an extensive database of frequent questions by homeowners. Here, we are offering all of that knowledge to you, the homeowner! Feel free to browse through and see if there's anything we can help you with.

We do not. As the designer of new systems, we see it as a conflict of interest to fail your system during an inspection with one hand and provide you with a proposal to design a new one with the other hand. It is our firm belief that these two processes should be clearly separated in order to protect the homeowner. If you wish, we can provide you with a reference of licensed independent contractors to do your inspection.
In the years past, sellers could provide the buyer with a ‘credit’ towards fixing the septic system in the future. In today’s financial and banking climate, almost all mortgage companies will require that this be addressed prior to the closing. We recommend that you first get an engineering design done so that you have a definitive cost associated with the work. At that point, it becomes a contractual negotiation between the seller and buyer as to how the costs will be shared.
The NJDEP governs septics throughout the state of New Jersey, although, some municipalities will supplement the regulations with their own additional requirements. The state rules can be found at the following website:
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dwq/pdf/njac79a.pdf.
No. The State of New Jersey recently updated their septic codes on April 2, 2012. Although it is permissible for current property owners to have and use a cesspool, it must be replaced with a modern septic system prior to the realty transfer of the property.
This too can vary from property to property. Call our office and with a 5 minute phone interview, we can get enough information to provide you with a definitive itemized proposal for the required engineering services.
That is like asking “How much does a car cost?” The answer can vary significantly depending on factors such as site access, soil conditions, topography and the volume of usage by the home. A rough estimate is $13-$20,000. Approximately 90% of all systems fall within this range. It is important to get an engineered design done so that you can get an accurate price quote from a contractor before signing an agreement.
The first step is to hire a Licensed Professional Engineer. Your engineer will coordinate with the local Health Department and a contractor to dig a 10’ deep test hole on your property. This process will identify the soil characteristics on your property as well as potential limiting factors such as a high water table or shallow depth to ledgerock. With this information, your engineer will prepare a plan to be submitted to the Health Department for their review and approval. Once the plan is approved, bids can be obtained from reputable contractors to install the system.
Each septic system has a maximum daily capacity. If more liquid flows in than the system can handle, backups or surfacing will occur. In general, a normal rain fall will not significantly impact a properly functioning septic system.
Using too much soap, detergent or washing powder can cause problems. Use in moderation. We recommend liquid soaps rather than powdered soaps.
Much like a car, the life of a septic system is directly related to the amount of usage, the severity of usage and the maintenance it receives. A rough estimate is 15-25 years although there are many systems that have been in place more than 50 years without a problem.
Septic odors can occur in the house, above the tank and drain-field, or around the vent pipe. Odors are naturally produced by the decomposition of waste in the tank. Some odor problems can be easily and inexpensively corrected. The most common problems with septic odor are a clogged vent pipe, saturated and or waterlogged drain-field, a broken or cracked lid, tank or pipe. If the smell is inside the home, the most common problems are a dry trap, a clogged or cracked vent pipe.
No, unless you like flushing your money down the toilet. The use of an additive will not extend the amount of time that you will need to clean the tank. The most effective method of breaking down the solid matter in the tank is by allowing the bacteria that's in the tank to naturally digest it. Although some additives may not harm your tank they could contaminate the soil.
The New Jersey State Septic Code requires that the disposal bed for a home with a garbage disposal be 50% larger than one without it. We strongly recommend that you do not install or use a garbage disposal in a home with a septic system.
Unfortunately this is a classic sign of a disposal field failure, particularly if there is a strong septic smell associated with the water. However, this could be the result of excessive water consumption or a break in a delivery pipe.
Yes, it doesn't take long for a leaking faucet or toilet to add up to several gallons of water.  Excessive water can overwork your system and cause backups and surfacing. Remember that the septic system has a maximum daily capacity.
It is best to keep vehicles off the septic system. The weight can damage the pipes and tank causing them to need to be replaced. The weight can also compact the soil and reduce your drain-fields ability to treat wastewater. However, there are certain technologies available today that do permit vehicle traffic above the field
The most common reason for system failure is not having the solids removed on a regular basis.  Homeowners should be alert to the following warning signs and call to have their system cleaned and inspected to determine if their system has failed.

Slow draining of sink, tub, toilets or washing machine
Gurgling sounds
Backup of toilets, sinks, drains or washing machine
Sewage odors
Wet or mushy ground at tank, drain field or distribution box area
Grass growing fast or greener in one particular area
It is recommended that you follow the manufacturer label on the product.  While some products may not harm the system they can have the potential to contaminate groundwater and the soil.
A good rule to follow is this: If you can throw it into the trash, then don't flush it.  The septic system is not a garbage disposal.  The following list of items can destroy the biological digestion within your tank and cause you to need more frequent cleaning.

Food scraps
Coffee grinds
Dental floss
Disposable diapers
Baby wipes
Cat litter
Sanitary/personal hygiene items
Q-tips
Cigarette butts
Fats, grease, oils
Hazardous chemicals: paint, varnish, thinners, pesticides, oils, gases
Paper towels
Plastic bags
ClothingToys
All septic systems should be checked and cleaned on a regular basis to ensure that they are working properly.  Septic systems cannot dispose of all the material that enters the system.  The solids that are not broken down by bacteria begin to accumulate in the tank and eventually need to be removed.  Failure to properly maintain a system will eventually result in serious problems and could be very expensive to repair or even replace.
You can try to find your septic tanks location by starting at the house and determine the direction of your sewer pipe. If you are not able to locate your system, it may be best to let the professionals do the job. You can go to your local Health Department and request a copy of the Septic System permit for your property. Please keep in mind that sometimes system are not installed exactly as it is shown on the permit.
It is recommended that homeowners should have their systems routinely cleaned every two to three years. However, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration, such as the number of people in the household, the capacity of the septic tank, the volume of wastewater and solids entering the system. We also recommend that if you have a pump tank that it be pumped every other time that you pump your septic tank