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Pumping Your Home's Septic System: An Interview with Darlene Johnson of Best Septic Service

By Darlene Johnson

Tell us a little about your company and its foundation:

Best Septic Service was established in 1965 by Harold Colby in Concord, NH opening one of the first septic service businesses in New Hampshire. Mr. Colby's primary focus was to educate the public about septic systems. In the mid 1980's, he was a founding member of the New Hampshire Association of Septage Haulers or NHASH. A retiring Mr. Colby sold his business in 1990 to the current owners Paul and Darlene Johnson. The Johnson's continue to provide homeowner education as protectors of our environment and remain active members of NHASH. The Johnson's have built a trustworthy and proactive company to include 4 trucks, 5 employees and 100 portable toilets. Their oldest son will take the reins at some point, keeping Best Septic Service a small, locally family owned business here in central New Hampshire for many years to come. We believe in supporting local businesses and community services, especially anything that is for or involves children.

What sort of maintenance is required for a septic system?

The most important maintenance involved in living with a septic system is pumping the septic tank. Solids are trapped in the tank and build up over time. Removing the solids assures that the solids don't migrate to the leaching system dimensioning its ability to leach. Knowing where your septic tank and leaching system are important as well. Do not build structures or drive over the septic system. This is kind of like changing the oil filters in your car. A little bit of occasional maintenance saves from a complete expensive breakdown or failure.

How often do you recommend people pump their septic systems?

The average household can go 3 years in between pumping, depending on a few different factors. Every household's water usage is different. A family of 5 should not wait as long between pumping as a household of one or two people. The best recommendation is have your septic tank pumped and consult with a septic professional. They can make the best recommendation based on your family's usage for your pumping frequency.

How long does it take to pump a septic tank?

On average the pumping of a standard septic tank takes approximately 30-40 minutes again depending on a few factors; like how long ago the last pumping was and the distance between the truck and the tank. The closer the truck can get to the tank, the less time it will take to pump.

What are the benefits of servicing/pumping your system regularly?

By pumping the septic tank one avoids the chance of back up into the house, and prolonging the lifespan of the leaching system.

What issues could arise from neglecting your septic system?

An unmaintained septic tank can have an excess of solids build up, this can cause two things to happen:

  1. A buildup of solids can clog the inlet pipe which can cause a back up in the house which results in a big mess that no one wants to clean up! Not Fun.
  2. Too many solids in the tank can cause solids to migrate into the leaching system, thus causing leach field failure. The average lifespan of a leach field is between 15 and 30 years but 30 plus years is not unheard of. Of course, everyone wants this expensive item to last as long as possible. A leach field can cost between 6 thousand and 12 thousand dollars to replace.

I would like to add how important it is not to flush any type of trash down the toilet!! This especially includes personal or baby wipes. The package might say flushable but that just means it fits down the toilet. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is currently focusing on how bad these trash items are to our septic systems and to city sewer systems as well. A survey has shown that flushing trash down a city sewer system can a town on average $40,000 a year unclogging pipes and replacing pumps. In some major cities across the country it can cost 6 figures.

The toilet is NOT a trash can, it is just that simple.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

We can be reached at 225-9057 or 1-800-287-9057 and through our website at We serve the greater Concord area. But there is a list of septic haulers that service the entire state of New Hampshire at Here you click on your county to see the list of haulers that service your area.

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