Archive for the ‘Septic Systems’ Category

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.

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.