FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why do I need an engineer to design my system?
Septic systems in Alaska need to be designed by professional civil engineers to meet the requirements of the State of Alaska DEC or the Municipality of Anchorage. Engineers dig test holes to determine the best type of system your property can support. Be careful in your choice of engineers. If an engineer can design your system, offer to sell you a replacement, and even install it, you may not be getting the best system at the best price. Think of it this way... Would you let the IRS do your tax return? The best situation for a homeowner is to have an engineer who is not in the business of selling systems, but is in the business of designing systems from a variety of sources. Putting your installation out to bid by certified septic installers is also a good idea.
How much does AdvanTex cost?
Well, it's like going to a car dealer and asking, "How much for your cars?" There really is no single answer. While systems are similar in equipment, there are many variables in figuring the total installed cost, such the size of the home (how many bedrooms), the need for a discharge pump basin (to pump filtered effluent uphill for disposal), fees for permits, installation, and engineering. What we can quote you is the AdvanTex equipment that your engineer specifies. We encourage you to shop around for installation prices and we can provide you with a current list of Authorized Installers.
Can I install AdvanTex myself?
Nope. This is not your grandpa's septic system. Installation of AdvanTex is tough even for the pros until they get some practice. While we understand your desire to save money on the installation, an improperly installed system will cause heartaches by the number for everyone involved. This is why the manufacturer of AdvanTex, Orenco Systems, Inc. charges us, the distributor for Orenco, the task of training professional installers who are certified with the State of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage how to properly install these systems.
What is this Monitoring & Maintenance Agreement?
Advanced septic treatment systems such as AdvanTex are required to have these agreements in place for the duration of their operation. This is required by the Municipality of Anchorage, the State of Alaska, and Orenco so Anchorage Tank handles these duties. We monitor all systems remotely via the internet and subcontract the maintenance chores to an Authorized Service Provider. A copy of this agreement is found in the Resource Library.
How is my system monitored remotely?
The VeriComm control panel is connected to a telephone line extension from your house. Should the panel detect a problem with the system, it dials a toll-free number to Orenco where their computer sends an e-mail to Anchorage Tank. These e-mails report detailed information on alert and alarm conditions the panel detects. We do not have a live phone connection to residential control panels so using the internet to Orenco's computer is how we handle the upload/download exchange of information. Most conditions can be handled from the Anchorage Tank office and we dispatch the Service Provider when needed.
When do the filters get replaced?
They don't. The textile media should last indefinitely under normal conditions. The synthetic fibers are made of durable and biodegradation-resistant polymers. The filter media hang in the "pod" in aligned sheets. The Service Provider may need to use a garden hose or pressure washer to clean the sheets and the biology washes back into the tank to become part of the action again.
What kind of tank is used?
AdvanTex Treatment Systems use either a steel or fiberglass tank. The engineer designing the system usually makes this decision. The fiberglass tanks are manufactured by Orenco Systems, Inc. and assembled by Anchorage Tank. They are quite durable and corrosion-resistant. If the system engineer specified a steel tank, let's not confuse this with a typical steel septic tank. The AdvanTex steel tank is made of thicker steel and is sandblasted & coated inside and out with a special plastic coating (the same coating is used on an underground fuel tank) to make a lifetime tank.
How often do I have to pump out the tank?
You don't. It's taken care of with your Monitoring & Maintenance Agreement. Each time the Service Provider does a scheduled inspection, the sludge level in the bottom of the tank is measured. When the sludge reaches approximately 24" deep, we arrange to have the tank pumped out. Pumping intervals will be different for each system, depending upon usage.
Why is my system located where it is?
Placement of the system on your property is dictated by several criteria such as distance from water wells, open surface water (lakes and streams), utility easements and property lines. By the time the engineer takes all these into consideration, there is often very few places a system can be located. The same holds true for the control panel as it needs to be located within line-of-sight of the tank for the safety of the Service Provider. This is why your system may have been located in the front yard.
Can I landscape to hide my system from view?
Certainly... but carefully. Just as there have been some very creative landscape solutions to hide the system from view from the house or the street, there have also been some disasters. The rule of thumb is that the system still has to be maintained. This means that space should be allowed to permit access for the Service Provider to lift lids and work on the system. Please no not cover the system lids with topsoil, bark chips, marble chips, etc. as the Service Provider will make quite a mess out of it to access your system. Plus, when this stuff freezes in the winter, it is impossible to service any emergencies until the springtime thaw.
It's a good idea to wait until the next summer season before finishing any topsoil grading and grass seeding because the soil around your system will likely settle. If you hydroseed the first summer, your grass may sag in the fall when it rains.
Soil may be brought up to the underside of the lids to hide the black foam insulation. The green AdvanTex lids blend in well with green grass.
The lids are moose-proof but you want to be careful with the lawn mower as the lid corners may chip off. Some homeowners have placed bird baths and lawn chairs on their lids too.
Carefully placed shrubs and trees can hide the system from view also. Mock Rocks (plastic covers that look like landscape boulders) are available locally to hide those monitoring pipes sticking out of the ground.
With a little creativity and imagination, your system does not have to be an eyesore in your lawn.
Can I build a deck over my system?
This is not a good idea. Low-level decks render access to the system almost impossible without some elaborate trapdoors built into the deck floor and these will likely freeze in the winter. High level decks above the system may work if there is a minimum of ten feet of vertical clearance above the tank so the pump and filter basket may be withdrawn for service. In any event, great care must be used whenever drilling holes for deck post foundations as underground wiring, piping, and even the septic tank could be damaged. Once again, this is not a good idea.