Environmental Health

Septic Systems

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “T”?
A “T” is a structure on both ends of the tank that directs the flow of septage.  On the inlet side, it prevents the disturbance of the contents of the tank.  At the outlet, it prevents solids from flowing out of the septic tank, and into the absorption field.

Should every septic tank have an effluent filter?
A filter is required on the outlet end of two (2) compartment septic tanks.  Filters are not recommended on single compartment septic tanks.

Does a contractor need a permit to pump out my septic tank?
A certified contractor does not need to receive a permit each time a septic tank is pumped.  However, if the absorption field needs repairs, then a permit must be issued by DeKalb County Board of Health, Division of Environmental Health.

Do the lids on both ends of the tank have to be dug up and removed to pump the tank out?
Yes, it is recommended to remove both lids to ensure that nothing is clogging either “T,” to check the structural integrity of both “T’s,” and to clean the filter in the outlet “T” if present.

How do I find out the capacity of my septic tank?
The Division of Environmental Health’s office may have a copy of the installation Inspection Report. This report should have the capacity of your septic tank and the location of the absorption field.  Your contractor may also be able to determine this for you.

Can I use too much water?
Yes, your OSSMS is designed to process a maximum of 150 gallons per day per bedroom.  As the system ages it may decrease in efficiency.  Please see the chart for maximum design flow and recommended water usage.

Number of Bedrooms 1 2 3 4 5
Volume Design maximum
per month in
thousands of gallons.
4.5 9 13.5 18 22.5
Recommended maximum
per month in
thousands of gallons
3 6 9 12 15

The contractor stated that I had to have a repair or the Board of Health would condemn my home.  Is this true?
If an OSSMS is causing an imminent health hazard, the Board of Health will ask that you abate the hazard.  There may be legal ramifications for those who choose not to repair their OSSMS.  However, it is extremely rare that a house is condemned.  Contact the Division of Environmental Health for possible repair options at 404-508-7900.

How often should I have my septic tank pumped?
This will depend upon the size of the tank, the number of occupants, and if a garbage disposal/grinder is present.  A general rule is to have the tank serviced every three to five years, but more frequently if a garbage grinder is present.  For further information contact your local Environmental Health Office.

I had my tank pumped a week ago and it is full again.  Is there a problem?
Once the tank reaches its operating capacity, each gallon of sewage in forces a gallon of effluent out to the absorption field.  However, if effluent surfaces in the yard or backs up into your home, a problem may exist.  For an evaluation, contact the Division of Environmental Health at 404-508-7900.