Pagosa Springs CO 81147.




My house is backed up. Should I call a plumber or a septic company?

Always call Rocky Mountain Sanitation first. We can ask you questions to help you diagnose whether your symptoms might be attributed to plumbing issues, or if you are truly experiencing a septic system problem. Most plumbers have little or no septic experience, so you could be wasting money by calling a plumber first. We get many service call orders from plumbers who are unable to remedy a customer's problems.

How does my water softener affect my septic system?

While this subject is an ongoing debate among professionals in both fields, the most important thing to watch out for is a leaking water softener system. If your softener system begins leaking continuously into your septic system, you will experience problems. This is also true of leaky toilets and faucets. Always address leaks immediately. Your system is not designed to have a continuous inflow of water.

How often do I need to pump my septic tank?

Regular pumping of your septic tank will extend the life of your septic system and protect your septic drain field. You CANNOT eliminate the need to pump a septic tank by using bacteria additives. These products simply help regenerate bacteria colonies in your tank that are killed off with cleaners and the like.

The more usage a septic system has, the more often it should be pumped out. A two person home has less usage than a 5 person home. A home with young children typically has more usage than a home of adults (baths, kids like toilet paper, etc.)


It is also a good idea to have the septic tank pumped before a large gathering of people or more frequently if you use heavy medications or heavy use of a garbage disposal.

Our septic pumping technicians will offer their suggestion for your next pumping after your initial septic service with us. A rule of thumb, if you do not remember the last time you had your septic tank pumped, it's time to do it again. Don't wait for an issue to arise before pumping because it can create issues for your disposal field and end up costing big bucks!

Septic systems are a very cost effective method for your waste water needs. If maintained properly, your septic system will last you many years. Sometimes, 50 years or more. When ignored, a system that was installed just 5-10 years ago may fail.

Maintenance pumping is very affordable; if done every 3 years, a 1000 gallon septic tank pumping equals less than $7.00 a month!

Why do septic systems fail?

The most obvious septic system failures are easy to spot. Check for pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system. Notice whether your toilet, tub or shower drain backs up when you flush or do laundry. You may hear bubbling or gurgling sounds when you flush your toilets. You might also notice strips of bright green grass over the drain field. Septic systems also fail when partially treated wastewater comes into contact with groundwater. This type of failure is not easy to detect, but it can result in the pollution of wells, nearby streams, or other bodies of water.

Contact us if any of these circumstances are true for your home. A trained septic tank professional is always available to come check out your situation if you suspect such a septic failure.

Septic tank failure causes vary drastically but most often include the introduction of "toxic" materials to the septic system or from overloading the septic system. Remember that your septic system contains a living collection of bacteria that digest and treat waste. Don't kill them off or they won't be able to do their job!

Practices or items to avoid overusing include:

Household toxics: oil based paints, solvents, toxic cleaners, pesticides, excessive household cleaners.

Draining a hot tub or swimming pool in your septic system. (Instead, drain water onto turf well away from the septic tank and drain field according to local regulations).

Excessive use of water purification systems including water softeners.

Frequent use of a garbage disposal which can significantly increase the accumulation of sludge and scum in your septic tank. So what is the purpose of using bacterial additives in my septic tank and system?

To promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the septic tank.

Healthy bacteria are essential for proper septic tank operation. A healthy bacteria level digests organic waste. The bacteria in the wastewater isn't always strong enough to maintain your septic system because of the typical home-care products that we use kill bacteria before they even get to the septic tank.

What is the difference between pumping and cleaning my septic tank?

We have received this question a lot from our customers and I would like to clarify what is recommended maintenance routine for a septic tank. Septic tank pumping and cleaning are interchangeably used.

We ALWAYS pump both the water and the solids from the septic tank when you hire us to complete your routine septic tank maintenance.

We remove as much sludge from the bottom of the septic tank as possible. However, there will be a small layer inside of the bottom of the tank and this is a good thing! The septic system functions properly because of the bacteria that lives within the septic tank. Leaving this thin bacteria layer in the bottom of the tank preserves a bacteria colony for your septic tank. No septic tank should be completely clean after it has been put into use.

The water moves through the tank into the disposal field and is then further filtrated into the ground. The water is removed on a consistent manner through the disposal field. BUT, in order to properly remove those nasty scum and sludge layers the ENTIRE contents of the tank should be pumped and removed.

How does a septic tank work?

The septic tank is the place where the first stage of wastewater treatment occurs. The conditions in the tanks are ideal for bacterial growth. The bacteria utilize the organic waste as food. After the bacteria digest the food, it settles to the bottom of the tank and is identified as "sludge". Very little of the soaps, fats and grease are eaten by the bacteria and because they are lighter than water; these continue to float on top of the water. This build up is known as "scum".

The area between the sludge and scum is known as the "clear zone". This is the zone of treated wastewater that moves out of the septic tank to the next component of the disposal system. Gases generated during liquefaction are normally vented through the building's plumbing vents.

I have no problems—Do I still have to have it pumped?


Proper maintenance, which includes pumping at least every 3-5 years, is essential to extending the life of your septic system. When your tank is pumped out, the leaching portion of your system is able to take a brief break from receiving any liquid. You may also want to inquire as to whether you should have your system cleaned during your regular maintenance visit.

What should I put in my septic system and what should I not?

The only thing that you should flush is water, toilet paper (septic system safe) and human waste. You should repair all leaking faucets or toilets and divert roof drains, house footing drains or sump pumps away from your septic system components.

Bleach for the laundry is okay to use as long as it is not used in every load. You should never clean paintbrushes or dump paint down the drain. Most household cleaners are okay to use, check your particular cleaner label for "septic system safe".

You should never flush the following:

l Coffee Grinds l Sanitary Napkins

l Dental Floss l Plastic Tampon Applicators

l Diapers l Cigarette Butts

l Kitty Litter l Condoms

l Fat/ Grease/ Oil l Paper Towels

l Gauze Bandages l Hair Combings

Call us today to schedule a service appointment or to request a quote!

970-264-4411 / 970-946-8521