Frequently Asked Questions

County Fee vs County Fine2018-07-26T21:28:36+00:00

The County Commissioners Court changed the rules on Tuesday, July 24th.  The county will no longer collect the $20.00 registration fee but has adopted a $50.00 late fee for any maintenance contract that is turned in after the expiration date of the current agreement.  In accordance with this, AAMS has reduced the maintenance agreement fess by $20.00 as we are no longer remitting them to the county.

Please click here to see the letter from the county.

How do I mute my alarm?2017-02-02T00:17:48+00:00

There is a switch or button on most panels.  DO NOT mute system with the breaker.

How often should I have to replace parts?2017-02-02T02:33:46+00:00

It depends on the manufacture.  Most aerators last 3-4 years, the models that we use can be rebuilt at half the cost of a new one.  Plan on replacing an effluent pump every 6 years.  Control panel parts vary too much to list.  We replace sprinklers all the time, usually due to kids learning how to mow grass.

If I have an odor inside my home, is that septic related?2017-02-02T02:33:56+00:00

Almost never.  It is usually due to a dried up p-trap on a sink, tub, or shower that has not been used in awhile.  Pour water down the drain of the unused room.  This should help the odor to go away.

My effluent pump has failed, do I need to have my system pumped?2017-02-02T02:34:08+00:00

Not necessarily.  Your effluent pump has a life expectancy of 6 – 7 years.  However, if the pump has failed due to high sludge levels it is recommended that you have your system pumped at the same time.  We will not warranty a pump replacement due to high sludge levels without a complete pump out.

Should my alarm and sprinklers activate continually during and/or after rain?2017-02-02T02:34:21+00:00

Some systems take on ground water when it rains.  It is not supposed to do this and may need to be fixed.  If possible set the system to pump “on-demand” until the wet event passes.

What can I do if my neighbor’s septic system stinks?2017-02-02T02:35:06+00:00

If you have a neighbor with a stinky septic and they show no intention or concern about fixing the problem, you can make an anonymous complaint to your Health Department / Development Services.

What do I do if an alarm and/or alarm light comes on?2017-02-02T02:34:57+00:00

First, do not panic.  Alarms mean you have high water or the aerator has failed.  If it is a high water alarm and the sprinklers are on, then mute the alarm. Wait to see if the alarm goes off after the sprinklers have finished.  If you still have an alarm, then please call. Call AAMS for trouble shooting or email us email us here.

Why are the aerator and effluent pump so expensive?2017-02-02T02:34:39+00:00

We offer warranties on all the work that we do and we have no control over how a homeowner uses their septic system.

Why does my aerobic system smell?2017-02-02T02:35:21+00:00

If it is a septic odor multiple things can be happening, or better yet not happening.  Hydraulic overload, too much effluent, or bacteria kill off due to air restriction or too many chemicals entering system.  Also check and make sure that your aerator is running.  If it is not, contact us.

How do I know when my septic needs to be pumped?2017-02-02T00:27:18+00:00

When sludge levels exceed 36″ in tank 2, or when the levels in tank 3 exceed 8 inches it is time for a complete pump out. Your inspection report shows the sludge levels at each visit.  If AAMS believes pumping is warranted, there will be a statement under the “Sludge Levels” that states Pumping Needed.  It will also be stated in the comment section of the report. If you are unsure where on your inspection report this is located, click here for a sample report.

I just had my system pumped out, why is it turned off?2017-02-02T02:30:05+00:00

The system is turned off to prevent possible damage to the aerator.  The aerator needs back pressure to keep it from going into alarm and possibly rupturing the diagram’s.  When to turn it back on depends on the usage.  Please click here for a guide on when to turn the system back on.

What could happen if I wait to have my system pumped?2017-02-02T02:30:27+00:00

Your inspection report will show that your system needs pumping when the sludge reaches certain levels. (See FAQ “How do I know when my septic needs to be pumped?” for these levels) If you do not have your system pumped in a timely manner, there is a possibility that the sludge levels could build up and cause your effluent pump to fail or shorten it’s life.  The effluent pump will eventually fail if it is pushing sludge.  If the effluent does fail due to high sludge levels then you not only have to have the system pumped out but also have to have the effluent pump replaced.  This is a very costly repair.

Will my sludge level breakdown by itself?2017-02-02T02:30:13+00:00

No.  The sludge needs to be removed periodically.

Do I have to add chlorine?2017-02-02T02:18:39+00:00

YES.  Our contracts specify that the owner is responsible for the chlorine.

Do I have to use tablets or is there a different method?2017-02-02T02:15:43+00:00

Liquid bleach chlorinators are available for retrofit on most systems.  Call AAMS for a quote.

How do I know if my septic inspection is being performed?2017-02-02T02:18:59+00:00

Your maintenance company should be signing a sticker in or on your control box and leaving an inspection report or email.

How much chlorine am I supposed to add?2017-02-02T00:25:49+00:00

It varies depending on water usage.  Try 2-3 tablets every two weeks and adjust from that point.
If you have a liquid bleach chlorinator, add a gallon at a time.  Most bleach now days is concentrated.  Dilute it with water by at least half.

How quickly do I need to fix a non-rotational or broken spray head?2017-02-02T02:21:51+00:00

Sprinkler heads should be working as designed at all times.  Our policy requires prior authorization for all repairs.  Therefore, if we can not do the repair at the time of inspection you will incur a service charge for the additional trip.  You may contact our office with authorization to do repairs at the time of the inspection with a set dollar amount.  We can do it at the time of the inspection for $30 or we can come back out for $90 ($30 plus $60 service call).

My inspection report says Bad Turbidity, Color or Odor. What does that mean?2017-02-02T02:24:28+00:00

Bad Turbidity means that there is a high amount of suspended solids in the system.

Bad Color means that color of the effluent in Tank 2 & 3 are showing signs that the bacteria are low or not present.

Bad Odor means that the bacteria is not present due to high water flows or lack of aeration.


For ways to address these issues, please click here for further information.

My report states “Ants have an active mound around Aerator. Please treat with appropriate bait.” What does this mean?2017-02-02T02:23:48+00:00

Ants love electricity.  They will get into your aerator or control panel and can cause issues.  Please treat them with the appropriate ant bait.

My report states “Flush diffusers to lower demand on compressor”. What does this mean?2017-02-02T02:23:06+00:00

This means that we flushed your diffusers to lower the PSI reading on your aerator.  The diffusers are located at the end of the aeration line in tank 2 (ATU).  The diffusers are small stones that create the air bubbles needed for bacteria growth.  When we flush the diffusers it relieves the pressure on the aerator, allows maximum air into ATU, and reduces the work load hopefully extending its life.

My report states “Please add bleach to chlorinator”. What does this mean?2017-02-02T02:22:51+00:00

This means that the technician did not note any chlorine in the system at the time of the inspection.  We do not add chlorine.  This is the responsibility of the homeowner.  Please see “Is there a maintenance contract that will cover everything?” or “How much chlorine am I supposed to add?” under the FAQs  for additional information.

My report states “Sludge elevated in pump tank”. What does this mean and what can I do?2017-02-02T02:22:37+00:00

If your report states “Sludge elevated in pump tank relative to treatment tank levels, these systems require slow consistent flows to work best.” it means that your system has had some recent high flow events.  It could be that you had company recently, so therefore the bathrooms were having more use than normal.  You did all of your laundry on one day or there is water getting into your system other than through the house.

The best way to handle this is to spread out your loads of laundry.  Do a load in the morning and another in the afternoon versus doing them all back to back.  Make sure that water is not puddling on top of the system during rain events.  Make sure that all leaking toilets and faucets are fixed immediately.  Large garden tubs draining all at once cause massive water flows.

For more recommendations, see Septic System Problems under Steven’s Notes.

What can I do to ensure that my septic system operates properly?2017-02-02T00:26:19+00:00

A septic system is a big investment and in truth, is the most expensive appliance in your home.  There are many things that you can do to make sure that it operates properly and does what it is meant to do.  By doing these you may also help to avoid expensive repair bills.  For a list of ways to avoid common septic problems, look under Steven’s Notes.

What do you inspect on a maintenance visit?2017-02-02T02:27:12+00:00

Please see services and maintenance HERE.

What does “Stirred to incorporate biomass” mean?2017-02-02T02:23:30+00:00

The biomass is basically a level of sludge on top of the effluent.  This can happen due to high water flow rates and other reasons.  We will stir the biomass to try and incorporate it into the effluent so that it will settle back to the bottom of the treatment tank.

What does it mean that my “Tanks need pumping”?2017-02-02T02:31:26+00:00

The technician noted that due to the levels in your tank, that your system needs to be pumped out.  Most aerobic systems need to be pumped out every 3-5 years depending on the usage.  For more information regarding this topic, please see “How do I know when my septic needs to be pumped” below.

Where can I purchase chlorine?2017-02-02T02:17:24+00:00

Most hardware stores now carry wastewater tablets.

Where do I add chlorine?2017-02-02T02:15:00+00:00

It varies.  Usually, there is a three inch pipe sticking out of the ground between the ATU and pump tank.  Sometimes the chlorinator is in the pump tank itself. If you still can’t find it, please contact us.  We will have the technician contact you to walk you through it or schedule a time to meet with you.

Why does it matter if there is vegatation or structures around the spray heads?2017-02-02T02:22:09+00:00

The state law requires that the spray head pattern be clear and unimpeded.  This means that when the spray head operates, it should not be hitting any vegetation or buildings to operate as it was designed.  If they do not have unrestricted flows throughout the entire pattern, then you are in violation.  Please keep the spray field cleared of any buildings and trees within 10 feet.  Please keep the grass mowed in this area as well.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss moving the spray field or a spray head for buildings, pools, etc.

Why does my system need securable risers and lids on my system?2017-02-02T02:25:34+00:00

This is a safety and liability issue.  If we can’t easily secure your lids we and/or you may be liable if something bad happens because a dog or child accidentally fell into a tank.  It is also State law.  Please allow us to fix these issues immediately.  [Read more about Inspection Reports.]

Why does Tank 1 show “nm”?2017-02-02T02:23:59+00:00

AAMS does not measure Tank 1 because the sludge levels in this tank are so thick that we are unable to use a Sludge Judge in this tank.

If my septic system runs continually, will I have a large electric bill?2017-02-02T00:03:33+00:00

No, an aerobic septic system compressor runs on about 2.5 amps continually and the pump will run on about 9 amps. Relatively speaking, it is very little usage.

Is my septic system supposed to be making a noise?2017-02-02T00:03:10+00:00

You will hear the compressor running that is all.  If it is a little louder than normal, check the housing and make sure it is not touching the compressor causing a loud vibration.  If that is not the issue, contact us contact us here.

Is my septic system supposed to run all the time?2017-02-02T00:03:44+00:00

Yes.  The aerator or compressor runs 24/7.  If it doesn’t there is a problem.

Is the water safe coming out of the sprinklers?2017-02-02T00:02:59+00:00

If operating correctly the water is supposed to be safe.  I would not recommend playing in the sprinklers though.  I would also not recommend using it to water any fruit or vegetable plants.

Is there a maintenance contract that will cover everything?2017-02-02T00:13:20+00:00

No.  Usually maintenance contracts do not cover repairs and pump outs. There are companies that offer chlorine with their contracts.  If they are using the correct tablet (calcium hypochlorite) or liquid it is not reasonable to add enough chlorine to last the 4 months between the visits.  Be wary of this offer.

What should I do if I’m purchasing a home with a septic system?2017-02-02T00:04:08+00:00

The system should be inspected and pumped out by a knowledgeable company.  That means someone who is VERY familiar with all the different aerobic septic systems, the rules, and how these systems operate in real world applications.  It would be best to use a company that actually services and repairs these systems vs. a company that inspects only.  For more information on our services, please click here.

Why would I need to add Risers?2017-02-02T00:10:14+00:00

If your report states “Please allow us to add risers”, then the technician has found one of the following issues:

  • The current access is not at finished grade of the landscaping.  This means that every time we access the system, the dirt and debris are falling into the tank. Also bringing the access points above grade will help prevent water infiltration from water run off.
  • Your current lid is not able to be secured. This is a safety and liability issue.  If we can’t easily secure your lids, then we and/or you may be liable if something bad happens because a dog or child accidentally falls into the tank.  It is also State Law! Please allow us to fix these issues immediately.

This can be done at your next scheduled inspection, but does require authorization from you to repair.


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