Archive for the ‘Septic Systems’ Category

Why You Should Get Your Septic Tank Serviced When Selling Your Home

Posted on: October 19th, 2017 by megan No Comments

When selling your home, it always seems that there is much to do and that your to-do list is never-ending. But if there is one thing you should make time for, it is getting your septic tank serviced. It is always a good idea to get your septic tank inspected and certified before putting your home on the market. In many cases, it is actually a legal requirement that a homeowner gets his or her septic tank inspected, pumped, and serviced before selling the property. While the specifications vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, there are requirements that sellers should be aware of.

  • Inspection: A number of counties in the US require all property sellers with on-site septic systems to have these systems fully inspected by a licensed On-Site System Maintainer (OSM). The specifications of this inspection do tend to vary between jurisdictions. In some cases, county law may mandate that the inspector document how the system is functioning at the time of sale. It also may be a requirement that the tank is fully pumped during the inspection. Depending on the requirements of the county, it is a possibility that the seller will also need to fill out and submit a form verifying this inspection prior to sale.
  • Notification: In addition, it may also be mandatory for the seller to record a notice of the system’s operation and maintenance requirements with his or her local record-keeping office. The purpose of such a notice is to provide notification to the appropriate local authorities that the property is serviced by a septic system and to clearly detail that the homeowner’s responsibility is maintaining the system. This ensures relevant local records are kept updated.
  • Transfer of Information: Lastly, it is important to note that some counties require the seller to transfer all records of septic tank maintenance and service to the buyer upon the sale.

The bottom line is that if you are selling your home, you need to make sure that you have fulfilled all requirements related to your septic tank. For more information, be sure to get in touch with a professional.

The Three Different Types of Septic Systems

Posted on: September 20th, 2017 by megan No Comments

All septic systems aren’t created equally. While the basics of every system tend to be pretty similar, there are different types of systems out there that can affect the way wastewater is processed and effluent is distributed. So, what are the major types of septic systems? Let’s take a look. 

1. Standard septic tank systems:

Standard septic tank systems, also known as gravity flow systems, are the simplest type of septic system available. They rely on gravity to separate out materials from wastewater based on their density. In a standard septic tank system, wastewater exits your home and then enters into the first compartment of the septic tank. Heavier waste falls to the bottom, forming a thick sludge, while grease and lighter materials rise to the top and form a scum layer. The fluid between, known as the effluent, then flows into a second compartment and moves through a distribution box situated right at the beginning of the leach field and is then distributed throughout the soil via a piping system.

2. Low pressure dose system:

A low pressure dose system typically tends to be more complicated than a standard septic system. Like in a standard septic tank system, once wastewater exits the home, heavier materials in the water fall to the bottom and form a sludge while lighter materials rise to the top and form scum. The effluent similarly flows into a second compartment but it isn’t distributed out directly into the soil. Instead, it enters into a pump tank where it is stored, and it is then pumped into the leach field. Only from there is it distributed into the soil via a network of many small diameter pipes operating under very low pressure (this is why this type of system is known as a low pressure dose system). The effect is that the effluent is distributed much more slowly and evenly throughout the soil, making it easier to absorb.

3. An engineered or supplemental treatment system:

An engineered septic tank treatment system, sometimes also called a supplement treatment system, is by far the most complex type of septic system. It essentially functions the same way as a low pressure dose system functions. However, there is one major difference: the effluent is pre-treated after leaving the pump tank before it is distributed. Because these types of systems are more complex, they require more maintenance, and an annual check-up is recommended.

So, how can you decide which type of septic system is most appropriate for your home? Well, ultimately it boils down to the quality of your soil, groundwater levels and overall percolation rates (how quickly water flows through the soil). If the soil quality is poor, groundwater levels are high or percolation rates are very high, and absorption will be slower. This means that you will likely need a low pressure dose system or an engineered treatment system to ensure effluent isn’t being put into the soil at a faster rate than it can be absorbed, which can generate problems. When it doubt, your best bet is to consult with a professional to figure out what type of septic system is most appropriate for your home.

Why You Should Maintain Your Septic Tank

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by mike No Comments

Let’s face it: Maintaining your septic system is a pain. It’s a hassle and isn’t the most pleasant job. Although maintaining your septic system isn’t fun, it’s most definitely necessary. You’ve probably heard before that you need to maintain your septic system. Beyond the obvious reason of preventing repairs, there are a number of good reasons why you should maintain your septic tank. Let’s take a look.

Septic Tank Maintenance Will Save You Money

Probably the best reason to take good care of your septic system is to save money. When your septic system fails, it’s expensive to repair or replace. In fact, doing so can set you back a couple of thousand dollars. Many repairs actually can be prevented with routine maintenance, so routine maintenance is a worthwhile investment in the long run.

Septic Tank Maintenance Protects Health and the Environment

Secondly, one of the most important reasons to maintain your septic tank is to protect health and the environment. If your septic tank fails and leaks, it can leak out sewage. This can lead to the spread of infectious diseases, as sewage contains viruses and bacteria that are harmful to human health. For example, if the sewage leaks into the groundwater and gets into local lakes and rivers, it can cause health problems to those swimming in these water sources.

Moreover, a leaking septic tank can do considerable damage to the environment, polluting local water sources and the soil. For example, many of the household products used every day contain a whole range of pollutants, including phosphorus and nitrogen. If these chemicals get into drinking water, it can seriously contaminate it. In a worst-case scenario, this environmental pollution could also cause health problems.

The bottom line is that it is crucial to maintain your septic tank properly. Doing so is well worth the time and effort, as it will not only protect your wallet but also protect your health, the health of those in your community, and the environment. If you’re struggling with septic system maintenance, your best bet is to call on the expertise of a professional.

How Your Septic System Works: 5 Things Every Homeowner Should Know

Posted on: April 11th, 2017 by mike No Comments

As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Regular maintenance not only prevents costly plumbing disasters but also can help ensure that your septic tank lives a long life, protecting your investment. As part of your maintenance responsibilities, you should be checking your system on a regular basis and pumping it out. For some homeowners, however, that can be a challenge. Without any plumbing knowledge, it’s difficult to figure out how, exactly, these systems work. Luckily, we’re here to explain the basics of how your septic system works.

  1. Every septic system has four main parts. While septic systems come in a range of sizes and design specifications, all septic tanks have four main parts: a pipe from the house, a drain field, a septic tank, and the soil.
  1. All wastewater exits your home from a pipe. The pipe running from your house to your septic tank carries all of the wastewater that exits your home, whether that is wastewater from the toilet, the dishwasher, the shower, or the laundry machine. All of the wastewater leaves from the same pipe.
  1. The septic tank holds the wastewater. Once wastewater is transported via a pipe from the house, it is moved into the septic tank. The septic tank is buried below ground and typically sits in a watertight container of some kind, which is usually made from fiberglass or polyurethane. The water is held in the tank until the solids settle out into sludge and all of the oils and gasses rise to the surface as scum.
  1. Wastewater is discharged into the drain field from the septic tank. After a while, the wastewater leaves the septic tank via the drain field and is discharged gradually into the soil. Every time new wastewater enters the tank, wastewater in the drain field is pushed a bit farther along. If the drain field is overloaded for whatever reason, it will flood, causing sewage to seep back up through the soil. 
  1. Wastewater ends up in the soil. Once the wastewater leaves the drain field, it ends up in the soil. The soil is responsible for the final phase of treatment, removing all of the bacteria and nutrients.

Hopefully, with a better understanding of how your septic system works, you are better able to do any required maintenance and be aware of any potential problems. But remember, if you need help resolving any kind of problem or issue with your septic system, your best bet is to call in a professional.

Snowmelt and Your Septic System: What You Should Know

Posted on: March 21st, 2017 by mike No Comments

As the days get longer and the weather starts to warm, the snow that’s been sitting on the ground will thankfully start to melt away. While that may be good news for those who hate the winter and are eager to enjoy spring, it is important to keep in mind that snowmelt can cause problems for your septic system if it leads to saturated soil conditions.

Septic systems work by absorption and evaporation. Subsequently, when the ground is completely saturated with water — whether that is from melted snow or excessive rain — the effluent has nowhere to go. With heavy use of the tank, this will only make the situation worse. In extreme cases, the excess water may even enter your septic tank if the snowmelt causes groundwater to rise to such an extent that your septic tank becomes immersed. In this case, wastewater can be pushed back through your pipes and up into your toilets, showers, and sinks. This backup of wastewater is a health concern. If it causes anything to overflow, it can actually damage your walls, floors, and furnishings.

If you do notice that snowmelt is placing stress on your septic system, there are several things to do. First and foremost, try to reduce your use of the septic system by limiting the number of times you flush your toilet, run the dishwasher, and do laundry. Once the snowmelt has stopped and the water table levels have fallen, you may also want to consider getting the system professionally pumped. This is because, with excess water in the tank, the floating scum layer is often raised to the top of the tank, adhering to the sides even after the water level has receded. This can plug up inlets, outlets, and vents, which can cause problems in the long term.

In conclusion, it is important to pay extra attention to your septic tank as the snow starts to melt. In most cases, melting snow shouldn’t cause any substantial issues. However, in some cases, particularly if a large amount snow melts at a fast rate, it can mean trouble. Your best bet is to monitor the situation and call a professional for help if you think that snowmelt may be placing stress on your system.

Why Your Household Drains are a Window into Your Septic System’s Health

Posted on: January 31st, 2017 by mike No Comments

A slow or clogged drain can often be more than just a nuisance; if you have a septic system, it could be an indication that something has gone wrong. Oftentimes, when your septic system is failing or there is a clogged sewer line to the system, one of the first signs you’ll see is that drains are clogged or very slow to drain. So, how do you know if the cause of your drain problem is your septic system? Be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • The problem is sporadic. Oftentimes, when drain problems are linked to septic system clogs, drains may seem to work normally until there is a surge in usage, such as when using a washing machine. This is because when water usage is light, wastewater will flow down into the main drain line or sewer line where they are essentially stored until they are able to slowly seep past the blockage. However, in heavier usage periods, the wastewater accumulates faster than it is able to make its way past the blockage and flow through the pipes. As a result, the drain will back up. For example, you may find that the drain in your kitchen sink backs up while you’re doing a load of laundry.
  • You hear strange noises coming from the drain. If your drain keeps making a loud gurgling noise, it can be an indication that the outside sewer line or waste piping is partially blocked. As wastewater slowly seeps past the blockage, it will often produce a pronounced gurgling sound.
  • The drain is emitting a foul odor. When water in a drain starts to backup, it can emit a strong, foul odor. If your drain smells of sewage, or if water with a sewage smell backs up from your drain into a sink or bathtub, for example, you likely have a septic system problem on your hands. If sewage water is trapped in the pipes, your drain may also be emitting sewer gases. This can be a serious health hazard as well as a nuisance, as sewer gases contain methane.
  • You’re having problems with more than one drain. If you’re having problems with all of the drains in your house, it’s unlikely that all of them are clogged. Rather, the issue is much more likely to be a clog in your septic system.

If you are noticing drain problems that you believe may be indicative of a larger problem with your septic system, you’re best to get a professional out to evaluate the situation as soon as possible. Remember, the longer you wait to address the problem, the worse it will become, which translates into more expensive and inconvenient repairs.

3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Septic System Service Provider

Posted on: January 12th, 2017 by mike No Comments

When something goes wrong with your septic system, it’s crucial to get a reputable septic system service provider in to address the problem as soon as possible. Whether you have excess water in your tank or some kind of leak that is discharging sewage into your yard, the longer you leave the problem unattended, the more time it will likely take to repair it and the more it will cost you. However, when something goes wrong, it can be stressful figuring out whom to call. With so many septic system service providers out there, how do you know who has the experience and expertise to get the job done? If you are dealing with a septic system emergency, be sure to keep the three following things in mind when deciding whom to call.

  1. First, you want to make sure that you are choosing a septic system service provider with a sterling reputation. You can always ask around for a recommendation from friends and family, though the alternative option here is to check out reviews and ratings online. For example, Yelp is an excellent place to find reviews of businesses in your area, including septic system service providers. You can also always check out SepticSystem.com’s listing of Septic Service Companies.
  1. There are a number of different types of septic systems out there, so you want to make sure that your provider has experience dealing with a range of system types. Check to see how long a provider has been in business. A provider with decades of experience is likely a better option than a new company that is just up and running.
  1. A good septic system service provider will likely have a number of certifications. Check to see if it is registered with your area environmental quality commission or local water system. These kinds of certifications can indicate that a company is safe and has very high operating standards.

The bottom line is that if you have a septic system, you know how important a fully functioning system is to keeping your household up and running. Therefore, it is in your best interest to take a bit of time to figure out whom to call when you run into trouble. You want to make sure you choose a trustworthy and reputable septic tank service provider with experience and expertise.

How to Prevent Your Septic Tank from Freezing This Winter

Posted on: December 12th, 2016 by mike No Comments

Every winter, as the temperatures dip, thousands of people across the country find themselves dealing with the frustration of a frozen septic tank system. The problem — often caused by a confluence of dry soil conditions, lack of snow cover, and extremely cold air temperatures — can be a real headache for many homeowners. When it comes to preventing your septic tank from freezing this winter, here is what you should know.

Snow Is Your Friend—Not Your Enemy

Many homeowners believe that a thick layer of snow over a septic tank is a cause for concern. In reality, a blanket of snow can actually prevent your septic tank from freezing. That’s because snow, particularly fresh snow, essentially functions as an insulator. For example, 10 inches of fluffy fresh snow that contains somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent water is roughly equivalent to insulating your septic tank with a half-foot-thick layer of fiberglass insulation that has an R-value of R-18. Any accumulation of fresh snow over a foot will provide your septic tank with significant protection.

The problems start when snow becomes compacted. Therefore, you should make concerted efforts to avoid walking or driving over the snow above your septic tank. The less you compact the snow above your tank, the less the chances of your septic tank freezing.

Keep an Eye Out on Problem Areas

Homeowners commonly encounter problems at the point where the septic tank pipe exits the home (typically from the basement wall). Depending on wind patterns and what side of the house this in on, it may be that the wind blows away the snow along this side of the house, leaving this pipe exposed. This can be a major issue, as it allows frost to seep deep into the soil and puts this pipe at risk of freezing.

The easiest way to deal with problem areas like this is with an insulating material, like straw, hay, or bags of leaves. Put insulating materials at least a foot deep over the problem area to help keep it from freezing. You may also want to consider putting up a snow fence to prevent the snow from blowing away.

The bottom line is that while a frozen septic tank is a major headache, it is relatively easy to prevent. Just make sure that you’ve taken steps to insulate any bare patches of soil and avoid compacting or removing any snow that is above your tank.

Septic Tank Safety Tips

Posted on: October 5th, 2016 by mike No Comments

If you have a septic tank on your property, you’ve probably heard all about the importance of septic tank maintenance. However, have you heard about the importance of septic tank safety? To keep everyone safe, it is key to follow a few basic tips when it comes to septic tanks. Let’s take a look.

Make sure your septic tank lid is sturdy, and always mark off its location.

The access port to your septic tank always should be enclosed with a robust lid. If your septic tank isn’t properly covered, it increases the risk of someone falling in, which could very well prove to be a fatal accident. Ideally, this cover should be difficult to remove to ensure that children can’t open it.

Never lean over your septic tank.

If you do need to open your septic tank lid, be careful not lean over the tank. Septic tanks release very strong smelling gasses, and in some cases, these gasses actually may be strong enough to knock someone out. While the chance that you might pass out from the odorous gas while leaning over the tank is admittedly a relatively small one, it still simply isn’t a risk that is worth taking.

Never work around your septic tank alone.

As mentioned, the gasses that your septic tank emits can prove to be overpowering. In the event that you do pass out, it is important that someone be in the general vicinity to ensure you haven’t fallen in the tank and to call for medical attention should you need it. Therefore, it is never a good idea to work around your septic tank alone.

Avoid burning flames near your septic tank.

It isn’t a good idea to start up a campfire right next to your septic tank. Why? As mentioned above, septic tanks release powerful gasses. These gasses can contain methane, which is highly explosive. Always keep any kind of flame away from the tank. To be on the safe side, you will even want to avoid smoking a cigarette near the tank.

Never, ever enter the tank.

Unless you are specially trained and wearing special equipment that includes a self-contained breathing apparatus, you should never enter the tank. Even if another person has slipped into the tank, you should never enter the tank in an attempt to retrieve the individual. Each year, people end up dead or seriously injured because of entering a septic tank in an attempt to save an individual who has fallen in. In the event of such an unfortunate situation, the best course of action is to phone emergency services immediately. While waiting for first responders, place fans around the top of the tank opening to blow in fresh air and ensure the individual has a fresh air supply.

In conclusion, if you have a septic tank on your property, it is crucial to take the proper safety precautions. Doing so can quite literally mean the difference between life and death.

How to Diagnose a Clogged Septic Drain Field

Posted on: July 6th, 2016 by mike No Comments

Septic drain fields, sometimes also called leach drains or leach fields, are the part of a septic system responsible for filtering out all contaminants, waste, and impurities. The drain field will typically consist of various trenches that contain perforated pipes, along with a porous material, such as gravel. This is then covered with a layer of soil in order to ensure that animals and surface runoff can’t get into the wastewater that the trenches distribute.

The drain field is a critical component of the septic system. It’s important to understand that a clogged septic drain field can spell big problems for the overall system, so you need to keep your eyes peeled for a potential problem. Here are some warning signs to help you diagnose a clogged septic drain field. 

Slow drains: Slow drains are often the first warning sign of a clogged drain field, as it is an indication that things aren’t moving along as they should be. If you find that water is taking a while to drain out of your sinks and showers or notice that you have to flush your toilet several times to get rid of all the waste, you shouldn’t ignore the problem.

Septic break on the surface of your yard: If a septic breakout, sometimes also called effluent breakout, appears on the surface of your yard, then your drain is likely clogged and things are backing up as a result. In addition, be sure to keep an eye out for grass that is greener than normal, as this can be an indication that there is a septic break that has penetrated the soil but has not yet reached the surface.

Noises and odors: Any odd gurgling noises or strange septic odors can also be indications of a clogged septic drain field. If you hear or smell something unusual, it is worth looking into.

In conclusion, if you notice one of the above warning signs and feel that there may be a problem with your septic drain field, it is best to address the problem sooner rather than later. If you don’t address the issue promptly, it will just get worse and worse, and you could very well end up with overflow, which is a hassle to address. The sooner you take action, the better.