Frequently Asked Questions about Naples, FL Septic System Installations

At George W. Shepard & Son, Inc., we regularly answer questions about Naples, FL septic system installations. Here are a few of the most common:

Q. How often should I have my septic tank pumped?


A. You should have your septic tank pumped approximately every 3 years. It all depends on how you use the system. If you have a garbage disposal (which we do not recommend), you should have it pumped more frequently. If there are only 2 of you living in the home then you could probably get by with pumping less frequently.

Q. Why does the septic system need to be pumped out periodically?


A. Sludge accumulates in the bottom of the septic tank with regular use. When the sludge levels are high, more solids escape into the filter bed or drain field area. This seals off the drain field so the water cannot drain properly.

Q. What are the warning signs of a failing system?


A. These are the most common:

  • Sinks and toilets draining slowly
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing
  • Plumbing backups
  • Wet or mushy ground near septic system

Q. What can cause a strong sewer odor inside the house?


A. There are a number of potential causes for sewer odors inside your home. Be safe! Turn off the gas and propane sources and get out immediately. If no gas leaks, there are several other possible sources. Check the seal around your toilet, run water in bathrooms that are used infrequently (this refills traps), make sure there are no broken pipes, and check the vent pipe for obstructions (one time a client had a bird’s nest in the vent pipe).

Q. Why won’t my sinks drain?


A. First, make sure it is not a clogged drain. Check other plumbing fixtures in your home; if there is only one fixture draining slowly or not at all, you are probably dealing with a clogged drain. If all of the drains are slow or waste is backing up into the bathroom closest to the septic system, it is probably the system.

Q. Why is the alarm sounding in the lift station?


A. Call a septic contractor. It could be a bad pump or a float, or it could be the power supply. It could also be the alarm panel.

Q. Why do you install a filter on the outlet end of the tank leading into the drain field?


A. The health department requires this filter for our systems to pass inspection. When we put in a new system or a new drain field, we must install this filter, which helps prevent solids from entering the drain field and causing premature failure. This also means that the filter needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Depending on use, it should be cleaned every 6 to 12 months.

Q. I’ve heard that my septic tank will float up out of the ground if I have it pumped out. Is this true?


A. It is possible, under certain circumstances. Concrete tanks generally do not float to the top of the ground. However, during the rainy season when the ground is saturated with water and you have your tanks completely pumped, it could possibly float. Newly installed tanks have been known to float. Plastic or fiberglass tanks have also been known to float.

Q. Do I need to use an additive to keep my septic system working properly?


A. No. If you are using your septic system properly there is no need to use an additive. These products generally do not help and some may even be harmful to your system.

Q. Why do the roots from trees and plants go to the septic system?


A. Roots from trees and plants seek water. They will find their way into the concrete tanks and the pipe. We recommend not planting anything on or near the drain field but grass. The health department has an approved list of plants that they say can go on or around the drain field. After years in the business, we still believe there should be no plants or trees on or near the drain field.

Have a question that we haven’t answered? Call 239-261-0607 or email us at