Septic Care Workshops & Resources

Snohomish County offers FREE Septic Care Workshops for homeowners! You just missed our two November workshops held in North and South County, so check the website again soon for upcoming workshops.

  Homeowner Resources:


Snohomish County Health District
Snohomish County Health District is your best resource for information and assistance on:
Septic System Maintenance by Type
The best way to determine the type of septic system you have is through an "As-Built Drawing" of your system, which also shows where your system is located. Snohomish County residents can look up their property's As-Built Drawing in the Snohomish Health District's D.A.V.E. database by entering the site address. Please note that some older homes may not have records in the D.A.V.E. system.

These short videos, produced by Thurston County, present great overviews of different septic system types and how to care for them:
If your property does not have an As-Built drawing in the database, you can search your property for "risers" or "manholes" which are access points to the septic system. The Kitsap County Homeowners Guide to On Site Septic is a good resource that shows how systems may look underground and common above ground visual cues that may help you locate your system. Using a certified septic professional to inspect a system is highly recommended.

Finding a Certified Septic Contractor
There are several different certifications for septic contractors, and the type of certified professional you select is dependent upon the project type. View a quick guide on the type of contractor needed for different project types.

Here are a few tips to consider when hiring a septic system professional:
  1. Get more than one price quote for the service needed.
  2. Make sure the contractor is certified for the work to be performed (visit the Snohomish County Health District link above for a list).
  3. Before starting any work, get a written contract from the septic professional that includes a price and a description of the work to be performed.
For larger maintenance or repair projects, you may also want to:
  1. Ask for references from the contractor.
  2. Walk the project site with the contractor to get detailed feedback on the proposed work.
  3. Discuss the project payment structure before work begins.
When Do Septic Systems Need Maintenance?
The EPA notes that the average septic system should be inspected every three years, and be pumped every three-five years. Systems with mechanical components such as pumps and float switches need to be inspected every year. Systems serving larger households, or processing more waste and wastewater may require more frequent inspection and pumping.

Common symptoms of septic system failure that indicate a need for system inspection and maintenance include:
  • Wastewater backing up into household drains, or excessively slow draining.
  • Bright green, spongy grass over the drainfield area, even in dry weather.
  • Pooling water, or muddy soil around your septic system.
  • A strong odor around the septic system or drainfield, or inside the home.
While homeowners can learn to perform system inspections themselves (see Washington State Department of Health field guide), hiring a certified septic contractor for system inspection is highly recommended. Septic system maintenance should be done by certified septic contractors.

Additional On-site Septic System Resources
Here are links to additional resources for Septic System owners, grouped by function: