Archive for the ‘Septic Systems’ Category

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.

Septic Tanks and Summer Rain: What You Need to Know

Posted on: June 7th, 2016 by mike No Comments

Summer rains might be good for your lawn. Unfortunately, summer rains — particularly heavy summer rains — can cause septic tank problems. The problem is that after a significant amount of rainfall, water seeps deep into the ground, causing the water table to elevate. If the water table rises too high, it can actually saturate your septic system’s leach field. (The leach field is the series of pipes used to drain contaminants from the liquid in the septic system.) This can actually cause contaminants to back up into the septic tank itself. This not only can be a hassle, but also could cause your entire septic system to fail in an extreme case.

It’s important to note that if you are having septic tank problems, the solution isn’t necessarily to drain the tank. That’s because when a septic tank situated in saturated soil is emptied, it becomes much lighter and subsequently buoyant. As a result, it will naturally rise to the surface. Even if your tank rises just a couple of inches, it could sever the sewer line in the ground. And if the septic tank actually comes up out the ground, it will be a major issue. So, what can you do to prevent any major septic system issues during periods of heavy rainfall? There are two main things:

Put less stress on your septic system.

Ideally, you will want to cut back on the use of your septic system. That means flushing the toilet less, doing fewer loads of laundry, and taking shorter showers. Think of it this way: If you are going to add to the already high water level by adding more water, you’re going to exacerbate the problem. Basically, the soil around your septic system is like a sponge in that it can only absorb so much. But you can mitigate that amount by being more frugal and strategic about your water use.

Keep water flow away from your septic system.

One of the most effective ways to prevent rain-related issues when it comes to your septic tank is to direct all water flow away from it. That includes all gutter drain run-off and sump pump discharge. This will help keep the soil around your septic tank from getting too saturated.

Remember, if you do suspect some kind of issue, the sooner you address it, the better. The bottom line is that if you’re experiencing rain-related septic tank problems, your best bet is to get an expert in to address the situation before it gets any worse.

5 Tips for Spring Septic Tank Maintenance

Posted on: February 28th, 2016 by admin 1 Comment

Spring is here, which means it is time for spring-cleaning. While you’re scrubbing down your floors, clearing out your closets, and washing your windows, don’t forget to venture outside and give your septic tank a little TLC. Here are five septic tank maintenance and cleaning tips to keep in mind this spring.

  1. Change your filters. Each and every spring, it is a wise idea to change septic tank filters. You can do this yourself, or you can call in a professional.
  1. Schedule an inspection. A harsh winter can do damage to a septic system, especially if snow has been piled up over the system or the temperatures have been excessively frigid. For example, there might be a cracked lid or a broken cap that needs to be fixed. Therefore, at the beginning of spring it is a wise idea to schedule an inspection. This will allow you to detect any problems, issues, and damage, and address them before they become a disaster.
  1. Pump the septic system clean. Keep in mind that the best time to pump your septic system clean is late spring, once the temperatures have warmed up. If you pump too early in the spring, when the weather is a bit chilly, the ground may not have warmed sufficiently for optimal results. You should never try to pump your septic system clean on your own. Your best bet is to call in a professional.
  1. Keep an eye out for flooding. As the weather starts to warm up and all of that ice and snow starts to melt, the ground may be excessively damp, raising the water table level. This can make your septic system more prone to flooding. The best way to avoid any problems with flooding is to keep your eye out for puddles around the tank. If you notice puddles—especially if they are smelly—it could be an indication that your system is flooded and overflowing, so you will want to call in an expert ASAP. Remember, the longer you wait to address the problem, the more serious it will become, and the more difficult and costly it will be to repair it.
  1. Make sure your gutter downspouts direct water away from your septic tank. Again, it’s important to keep in mind that spring tends to be a wet season, which makes your septic tank more prone to flooding. If your gutter downspouts are directing water toward your septic tank, this will only exacerbate the flooding risk. Always make sure that your gutter downspouts direct water away from your septic tank

Remember, septic systems are costly. By properly maintaining your septic tank, you can ensure that it stays in tip-top shape and prevent having to shell out for costly repairs down

How Big of a Septic System Do You Need?

Posted on: January 30th, 2016 by admin 1 Comment

How big of a septic system do you need? It’s a question commonly asked by homeowners who want to either replace or expand their septic system. The easiest answer is that the size of septic system you require will depend on the amount of water your household uses. Here are a few tips to help you figure things out.

Consider any minimum size requirements in your jurisdiction. First and foremost, keep in mind that some jurisdictions do have a minimum size requirement. In most cases, if there is a minimum size requirement it will be 1,000 gallons. Keep in mind that the capacity of your septic tank should always be about 40 percent large than the quantity of sewage flowing into it on a daily basis. Or, in other words, the daily sewage flow shouldn’t be any more than 60 percent of the tank capacity. Therefore, a 1,000-gallon septic tank can typically handle around 600 gallons of sewage per a day.

Consider how many people will be using the system. When estimating your water usage to try and figure out how big your septic system should be, you need to consider how many people will be using the system. So of course, you will need to consider how many people are living in your household. If you have six people living under your roof, you will inevitably use more water and need a bigger system than a household of just two people. However, you will also want to take into consideration any visitors, including the number of visitors you have in a year and the frequency of these visits. So if there are only two people in the house but your sister and her three children come to visit for a week at a time several times a year, you might need a slightly larger tank.

Consider the age of the people living in your household. When choosing an appropriate size for your septic system, it is important to keep in mind that children inevitably use more water than adults. The average adult commonly uses somewhere between 50 and 100 gallons of water per a day, depending on bathing habits, laundry habits, etc. However, a baby will typically use a minimum of 100 gallons of water per a day. Therefore, children will increase the demand on your septic system.

Consider how often you engage in activities that use water. From flushing the toilet to running the dishwasher to doing a quick load of laundry, you will inevitably engage in actives that use water as you go about your daily life. To get an accurate reading of your water use, consider how often you engage in activities that use water:

  • Automatic washer: 30 to 50 gallons per load
  • Dishwasher: 7 to 15 gallons per load
  • Garbage Disposal: 4 to 6 gallons per day
  • Shower or tub: 25 to 60 gallons per use
  • Toilet: 4 to 7 gallons per flush

The measurements above can be used to help you figure out water use, though this is by no means a surefire way to come up with a completely accurate reading.

The bottom line is that the size of your septic system will depend on the amount of water you are using. Getting an accurate measurement of water usage is key, because if your septic system is too small to accommodate your usage, the waste retention time in the tank won’t be long enough and settlement will be insufficient. This, in turn, will reduce the life of your soakaway system, which could lead to costly repairs down the line. Therefore, accurately measuring water usage is key.

How Often Should You Replace Your Septic System?

Posted on: December 31st, 2015 by admin 1 Comment

Whether you have a septic tank that is decades old or are a facing a major septic tank problem such as sewage backup, if you’re a septic tank owner, you’ve probably often found yourself wondering just how long your septic system will last. Do you need to replace equipment? Or do you need a whole new septic system altogether? But considering a new septic rank system can cost thousands of dollars, and it is important to understand when you should replace your septic tank—and when you shouldn’t.

When to Repair Your Septic System 

In some cases, even serious septic system problems can be resolved with intelligent repairs. This can save you quite a bit of money, as replacing an entire septic tank system can often cost upwards of $5,000.

Replace the drain field or increase its size. A drain field that is aging and not working properly, or one that is too small, will cause leakage, as it will likely struggle to absorb all of the waste. Replacing or expanding the drain field can help to mitigate the problem.

If saturated soil is a problem, try installing perimeter drains. If soil saturated with wastewater is continually a problem, and your septic tank is otherwise functioning fine, your best bet is to try installing perimeter drains to see if that alleviates the problem.

If your septic system is aging, adopt water conservation strategies. No matter what you do, your septic tank isn’t going to last forever. If your septic tank is starting to age, try adopting water conservation strategies to help prolong its lifespan. You will also want to be more diligent about routine maintenance.

When to Replace Your Septic System: What You Need to Know about Septic Failure 

If your septic system is failing you will need to consider replacing it. The bottom line is that even with proper maintenance, all septic systems will eventually fail. No matter how well you maintain your septic system, you can’t expect its lifespan to be infinite. A septic system is said to be “failing” when it can no longer effectively treat and distribute wastewater. Symptoms of septic tank failure include:

  • Sinks, bathtubs, and toilets that drain slowly
  • Standing wastewater on the ground above or in close proximity to your drain field
  • The presence of nitrate, nitrite, or coliform bacteria in your well water or in water sources near your home

When a septic tank system fails it is a major concern, as it means the system is no longer capable of preventing the contamination of nearby water sources, such as lakes, streams, or wells. Furthermore, the spread of untreated wastewater makes the area around your home a prime breeding ground for mosquitos and flies, which can spread disease. Replacing your septic system is certainly an expensive endeavor, but if your system is failing, it is a necessary one. For more information about what to do in the case of septic tank failure, your best bet is to contact an expert.

5 Septic Tank Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Posted on: November 25th, 2015 by No Comments

Do you know how to take proper care of your septic tank? Make sure that you avoiding these five common septic tank mistakes.

  1. You’re flushing large quantities of paper products. Yes, toilet paper is made to flush down the toilet. And no, you probably won’t have an issue if all you are flushing is toilet paper. But paper products besides toilet paper — including tampons, sanitary napkins, disposable diapers, and baby wipes — will likely cause clogging, which could do significant (and expensive) damage to your septic tank system.
  2. You’re doing too much laundry at once. Just one load of laundry requires quite a lot of water. So doing five loads of laundry back-to-back puts a lot of stress on your septic tank system. One of the best ways to protect your septic tank system is to spread your laundry out throughout the week as opposed to doing it all at once.
  3. You’re using your garbage disposal. Garbage disposals are a big, big no when it comes to septic tank systems. Dumping things like fruit, extra pasta, stray chicken bones, leftover grease, and uneaten vegetables down the garbage disposal might be incredibly convenient, but it is also incredibly damaging to your septic tank system. Remember, any solid waste that is dumped into your septic tank is broken down anaerobically by bacteria. Dumping in too much solid waste can disrupt this process. And dumping items like oil and grease can seriously jeopardize the performance and longevity of your septic tank system, as once they start to cool, they also solidify, potentially clogging your septic lines.
  4. You’re using chemical tank additives. Lots of septic tank products make claims that they can break up sludge and unclog drain fields, but the reality is that most of these products do a lot more harm than good. Even some biologically based septic additives that might seem harmless can actually do serious damage to the good bacteria that are responsible for breaking down waste. You’re best off avoiding them. In order to minimize the amount of chemicals that are being pumped into the tank, it also a wise idea to opt for all-natural cleaning products as opposed to harsh chemical cleaners when you are cleaning toilets, washing sinks, and scrubbing tubs. Try things like baking soda, vinegar, and tea tree oil.
  5. You’re not pumping your septic tank on a regular basis. The easiest way to keep your septic tank performing optimally? Make sure to get it pumped on a regular basis. Scheduling a simple tank pump every two to three years (how often you need to schedule one will depend on the specifics of your system and how heavily it is used) can significantly prolong the lifespan of your tank, as well as prevent any problems, like clogging.

4 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Septic Tank System

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015 by admin 5 Comments

Believe it or not, more than 1 trillion gallons of waste go through septic systems across the world each and every year. A septic system is a type of self-contained water recycling system located underground in the backyard. An underground water tank receives and stores waste that is pumped from the house. Bacteria in the tank then decompose this waste into sludge, which settles into the tank. Effluent then flows into the ground via a drain system and eventually filters back down into the groundwater sources. Many homes don’t have access to a public sewer system, meaning they will need a septic tank for waste. However, before you purchase a septic tank, there are several things you should know.

  1. Consider soil permeability. Before you purchase a septic system, you will need to conduct soil and perc tests in order to determine soil permeability. It is important to note that traditional septic systems only work when the soil in the leach area is permeable enough to sufficiently absorb the liquid effluent that flows into it. There must be at least a few feet of good soil between the bottom of the leach pipes and the rock or impervious hardpan situated below it. If you don’t have a sufficient amount of permeable soil, a standard gravity-fed septic system might not be the right option for your property. In that case, you will need to consider an alternative septic system.
  1. Measure your water table. If your water table is too high, a traditional septic tank system might not be an option. In this case, you might want to consider a mound system. This works quite similarly to a traditional septic tank, but the leach field is raised.
  1. Make sure you understand local codes. Local codes will dictate the minimum distance allowed between tanks and drain fields and your home and well, as well as the size and specific makeup of the tank and drain field. Therefore, before you purchase and install a septic system, it is critical to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the local codes that govern these minimum distances and layout rules.
  1. Consider whether you want a plastic septic system or a concrete septic system. Last but not least, you need to decide whether you want a plastic septic system or a concrete septic system. Keep in mind that plastic septic tanks are cheaper, but they aren’t allowed in every state. However, when value is more important than cost or when local building codes require it, a concrete septic tank is the better option.

The bottom line is that before purchasing a septic tank, you need to do some research to figure out which type of system is most appropriate for your specific situation.