Q: How often should I pump my septic tank?

A: Properly designed residential septic tanks should be pumped out once every 3-5 years. Older or undersized tanks should be pumped more frequently to avoid problems.

Q: How are septic tanks sized?

A: Septic tanks are sized based on the number of bedrooms. A three-bedroom house should have a 1,000 gallon septic tank, a four-bedroom house should have a 1,250 gallon septic tank and a five-bedroom house should have  a 1,500 gallon septic tank. If the house has a garbage disposal or a large capacity tub, the tank size should be increased.

Q: Why do I need soil testing for replacing a porch or adding a pool when my septic system is located far away from this structure?

A: If you have a septic system, the Connecticut Public Health Code requires that you can not be granted approval for an addition, accessory structure or change in building use until it is demonstrated that there is a suitable area on your property for a complete replacement of the septic system to be installed should the old septic system fail after your addition or structure is built. This portion of the health code is known as “B100a” and refers to Section 19-13-B100a of the Connecticut Public Health Code.

The intention of the law is so that you don’t use the land that might be needed in the future to replace a failing septic system. Without this law, home owners might build additions (bedrooms, pools, garages, decks, tennis courts, barns) that would occupy the land that could have been used for a replacement septic system.

Q: Do I need to upgrade my septic system if I want to put on an addition?

A: If your septic system is working properly now, nothing needs to be done at this time. The only time you may have to upgrade is if you are increasing the potential design flow from the building by more than 50% (ex. changing a three-bedroom home to a five-bedroom home).

Q: Is it okay to connect my water softener to my septic system?

A: No. Water softener backwash will harm your septic system and has been associated with early septic failures. The backwash from a water softener needs to go down its own “mini” septic leaching system. Your contractor is required to follow the permit requirements of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to install this “mini” backwash septic leaching system and work with the health department to determine where to put it on your property so we keep the waters of Connecticut safe.

Q: Why should I bring my well above grade and where everyone can see it?

A: The biggest problem with a buried well is that your well is not easily accessible, especially if it needs to be serviced. But mostly, buried wells are more prone to bacterial contamination. They are more likely to have the presence of coliform bacteria than wells that are extended above grade. Drinking water contaminated with bacteria may cause serious health effects.

Q: How do I know if my well water is safe?

A: The only way to tell if your drinking water is safe is by having it tested at a certified laboratory. Harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, as a various chemicals which could be in your water. So even water that looks and tastes normal may not necessarily be safe.

Q: How often should I test my well water and what tests should I ask for?

A: Well water should be tested yearly. Ask for a basic water potability test package, which should include test for coliform bacteria, nitrates, pH, sodium, chloride, fluoride, sulphate, iron, manganese, total dissolved solids, and hardness. You may also want to check for radon, uranium and arsenic. If you have noticed changes in the taste or smell of your water or have questions about water quality in your area, please contact the health district to discuss other possible tests you might want to include on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Where do I get my water tested?

A: There are several local certified laboratories that can test your well water. You need to contact these labs directly to make arrangements for sampling your water. A current list of approved testing lab companies can be found by clicking here.

Q: Can I make food in my kitchen and sell it?

A: Connecticut requires all food made available for the public to consume or buy must be prepared in a licensed commercial kitchen with a limited exception for jams, jellies and preserves which can be made from fruit grown on a residential farm.

Q: Can you regulate bake sales and potluck suppers?

A: No. The law allows non-commercial events for educational, religious, political or other charitable organizations to have bake sales and potluck suppers without health district oversight.

Q: I ate at a restaurant/function and got sick. What should I do?

A: You should contact the health district at 203-272-2761 immediately. We will ask many questions of you as this information is very important in helping us prevent other from getting ill.