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What You Should Do If Your Septic System Fails

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by mike No Comments

The majority of septic systems out there fail as a result of either unsuitable design or poor or inadequate maintenance. In the case of unsuitable design, it is often the case that soil-based systems with either a leach or a drain field are installed at a site with poor soil conditions, considerable slopes, or high ground water tables, conditions which can produce hydraulic failures and can also cause water pollution. In the case of inadequate maintenance, the main culprit is typically a failure to pump the tank sufficiently, causing clogs in the system. No matter the cause of the failure, however, a septic tank failure can spell catastrophe for homeowners. If your septic system fails, here is what you should know.

Don’t wait to call for help.

If your septic system is failing, one of the first things you need to do is get in touch with either your local health department or a regulatory agency, especially if wastewater is leaking into your soil or into your home. If you let the problem go, it could become a health concern. You will also need to get a plumber in as soon as possible to identify the problem and fix it.

Conserve water in your home.

While the problem is ongoing, you need to conserve water in your home. This will help to lighten the load on the tank and can help to mitigate the problem in the short-term – at least until the system is repaired or replaced.

Avoid contact with the sewage.

When your septic tank fails, sewage is likely to end up outside of the tank. In some cases, it may pool on your lawn or flood your basement. Whatever you do, you should avoid contact with this sewage, as it will contain potentially harmful pathogens. You should get professional cleanup personnel onsite with appropriate protective clothing to clean up the mess. Following cleanup, the area should be completely dried up and should not be used until it has been dry for 24 hours.

Why Water Efficiency Is Good for Your Septic Tank

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

Between flushing toilets, running the dishwasher, doing loads of laundry, and taking showers, the average American household uses a lot of water. Did you know that the average water use of a typical single-family home is over 70 gallons per person per day? That means that the average family of four uses 102,200 gallons of water each and every year – the equivalent of almost two Olympic-size swimming pools.

Cutting down on your level of water use isn’t just good news for the environment. It is also good news for your septic system. That’s because the less water your home uses, the less that enters into your septic system. That reduces the overall burden on your septic tank, improving the system’s operation and significantly reducing the risk of failure.

How can you maximize water efficiency in your home to ensure your septic system stays in tip-top shape? Be sure to take a look at the following tips and tricks.

Invest in High-Efficiency Toilets

If your household’s water use is out of control, your toilets may be to blame. Overall, toilet use accounts for about one-quarter of household water use. But a toilet that isn’t efficient can substantially drive that up. In fact, a leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water each day! To ensure maximum water efficiency in your house, one of the best things you can do is invest in high-efficiency toilets. Older homes will typically have toilets that hold up to 5 gallons in their reservoirs, while newer, high-efficiency toilets use just 1.6 gallons. Every time you flush, you will be using considerably less water.

Install Faucet Aerators and High-Efficiency Showerheads

Running the kitchen sink to do dishes or taking long showers can easily drive up your water usage. That’s why faucet aerators and high-efficiency showerheads are a wise investment, helping restrict water flow and reduce water use.

Pay Attention to Washing Machine Load Sizes

Washing machines are another main culprit of water use, so it’s important to be cognizant of how you’re doing laundry and where you can save on water. For example, don’t wash a few items of clothing on a large-load cycle. Doing so wastes water (as well as energy). If you aren’t able to select a laundry load size, then make sure you only do full loads in order to minimize waste. Of course, you may also want to consider investing in a high-efficiency washer. A new Energy Star washer can actually slash water use by 50 percent while also using 35 percent less energy.

Make Sure Your Fixtures Aren’t Leaking

Leaky water fixtures can waste quite a lot of water over time. Even just a small drip from a faucet can easily add up to gallons in water waste over the course of a day. If you notice a dripping faucet or a leaking toilet reservoir in your home, don’t wait to replace it. And if you sense your toilet reservoir might be leaking but aren’t entirely sure, test it out. An easy trick is to add a few drops of food coloring into the reservoir of the toilet before you head to bed one night. If you wake up in the morning and there is dye in the bowl, it means the reservoir is leaking.

The bottom line is that when it comes to prolonging the life of your septic system and keeping things in good shape, a bit of water conservation can go a long way.

Winter Septic Tank Problems — and How to Avoid Them

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

Winter weather is just around the corner. If you don’t take the right precautionary measures, the cold and snow could wreak havoc on your septic tank. So, how can you avoid common winter septic tank problems and keep your system in tip-top shape? Be sure to check out the following list of potential problems.

Frost has gotten deep into your septic tank components. If snow or frost gets deep into the components of your septic tank, it will freeze the entire system and significantly slow down the metabolic rate of the anaerobic bacteria in your tank, essentially bringing things to a halt. Luckily, this problem is a fairly easy one to avoid. The key is to provide your septic system with an insulating cover or blanket during the winter to keep the warmth in and the cold and snow out to help keep things running smoothly. Vegetation around your septic tank can also be tremendously helpful in shielding it from the cold.

Snow and soil are compacted over your soil tank. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid driving over your septic tank, but this is especially true in the winter months when there is snow on the ground. When you drive over your septic tank, it pushes all of the snow and cold soil closer to the septic system. This can cause the system to freeze more easily, potentially resulting in costly damage. To avoid snow and soil compaction, keep vehicles away from your septic tank.

Your pipes aren’t draining properly or are leaking. Any problems with pipes in the winter can spell disaster for your septic tank. When there are leaks in your pipes, any small amount of water that enters the system will freeze over, potentially causing damage. In addition, when pipes aren’t draining properly, whether a result of damage or deterioration, wastewater tends to accumulate on one side and then freeze over. To avoid these kinds of problems, your best bet is to have your pipes checked out before winter rolls around to avoid any issues.

In conclusion, taking the proper steps to prepare your septic tank for winter now can save you a headache and costly repairs down the line. Get started now before the first snowfall!

What You Need to Know about Septic System Design & Repair Regulations

Posted on: September 8th, 2016 by mike No Comments

Whether you need an entirely new septic system or need to make a significant repair to an existing system, it is important to note that there is an extensive body of septic system design and repair regulations. That means that when you make a change to your septic system, you need to consider these regulations.

The most important regulation tends to be regarding the size of your septic tank. In New York State, for example, the Department of Health mandates the minimum sizes and surface areas for septic tanks based on the number of bedrooms in a home. A septic system in a home with one to three bedrooms must have a minimum tank capacity of 1,000 gallons and a minimum liquid surface area of 27 square feet. The bigger the home and the more bedrooms, the bigger these requirements are. A septic system in a six-bedroom home must have a minimum tank capacity of 1,750 gallons and a minimum liquid surface area of 47 square feet.

In addition to size requirements, most septic tank systems are subject to a number of other regulations, including wastewater treatment standards. There may be limitations on where you can place the septic tank in your landscape, as well as regulations regarding the storage and disposal of the effluent. In Florida, for example, there are specific regulations regarding drain field placement in areas deemed more prone to flooding. There are also likely to be reporting requirements that require you to document when your tank has been serviced.

Failing to comply with these regulations can cause quite a headache for everyone involved. Therefore, it is crucial to do your due diligence, keeping in mind that specific septic system design and repair regulations will differ between jurisdictions. For example, Florida will have different regulations than Kansas. Local jurisdictions may have additional regulations, so it is also wise to check with your town and county, namely your county health department and local code enforcement officer, to ensure that you’re adhering to all applicable rules and standards.

How Much Does a Septic System Cost?

Posted on: August 9th, 2016 by mike No Comments

Whether you are looking to install a septic system on a new piece of property or need to replace an aging or broken septic system, the first question on your mind is how much it will cost. The truth of the matter is that a septic system can be a costly investment. When it comes to price, it really isn’t a wise idea to cut corners, as you want to ensure that your septic system will last for years to come and perform well throughout the duration of its lifetime. With that being said, there many factors that will affect the cost of purchasing and installing a septic system. Let’s take a look.

The size of the system.

The larger the septic system, the more it will cost. So, what determines the size of your septic system? Well, it all depends on the size of your home and the number of people living there. For example, a five-bedroom house with three bathrooms that six people call home will require a much bigger septic tank than a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home that only houses two people.

The type of tank.

There are different kinds of septic tanks. While most are made of concrete, there are also models available in steel, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Some of these materials are more expensive than others are. However, a 1,000-gallon precast concrete tank — which will typically suffice for the standard three-bedroom home — will generally cost $600 to $1,000.

Drain gravel.

Gravel trenches are commonly used as septic absorption fields. Generally, you can expect to pay $12 to $30 for 1 ton of drain gravel. The larger your drain field, the more gravel you will have to purchase.

Permitting costs.

Depending on the local regulations regarding permitting requirements, you may need to get permits to install a septic system. Permits will ensure that your system is installed up to code, but they could tack on a couple hundred dollars to your overall budget.

Labor costs and installation fees.

Many people are tempted to go the DIY route when installing a septic system in order to save a few bucks. This really isn’t advisable. In fact, it could end up costing you money in the end, as a septic system that is poorly installed will have more problems down the line. Remember, septic systems have to move biodegradable wastes to a place where they are able to break down naturally, which is pretty complex. Your best bet is to leave room in your budget for labor costs and installation fees.

So, what does all of that add up to? As a general estimate, a standard septic system will typically run anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000, assuming you have a three-bedroom home and good soil quality. Of course, this is just an estimate, and the total cost in your situation will depend on the factors discussed.

Getting Your Septic Tank Ready for Fall

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by No Comments

August is here, which means colder weather is right around the corner. As September approaches, it is time to start thinking about getting your septic tank ready for fall. How can you prep your septic tank for colder weather? Be sure to keep the following tips in mind.

Pump your tank. Pumping your septic tank is arguably one of the most important aspects of system maintenance. If you don’t pump your septic tank, solid waste will escape from the tank into the drainage system. This can cause a range of problems, including perforations in the leach lines, gravel in the trenches, and the seeping of sewage and waste in your soil. In fact, failing to pump tanks sufficiently is the leading cause of septic tank failure. In order to prevent problems, most septic tanks need to be pumped once every two or three years depending on the size of the tank and the number of people using it, and fall tends to be the ideal time to do so. Once winter comes and the snow starts to pile up, it is much more difficult for a truck to get in to pump out your tank.

Insulate your tank to prevent freezing. Once temperatures drop below freezing, it is possible for your septic tank or main line to freeze.  A frozen septic tank is a recipe for disaster. In order to prevent freezing in the colder months of fall and winter, you should be taking steps to properly insulate your septic tank now. Let grass grow an extra 6 inches over the entire septic tank system (this includes the septic tank, all connecting pipes, and the drain field/mound). This will help protect your septic tank from frost and snow by adding an extra layer of warmth. For added protection, you can also spread 8 to 12 inches of mulch over the system. It is important to note that this extra insulation will not only prevent pipes from freezing, it will also keep the bacteria that live within your septic tank functioning optimally. The metabolism of the anaerobic bacteria in your septic tank that break down solid waste materials and treats raw wastewater will slow down in the cold, meaning that they will take longer to break down and treat waste. Giving your septic tank an extra layer of insulation helps keep these bacteria warm, boosting their metabolism and keeping them running efficiently.

Check for leaks and drips. Before the weather starts to get colder, carefully check your home for leaking faucets, dripping toilets, etc. Little leaks and drips create small trickles of water flowing into pipes, and these small trickles freeze very, very easily. If left unattended for too long, something like a leaking faucet could result in a totally frozen-over pipe.

Remember, replacing a septic tank after a septic tank failure will typically cost upward of $5,000. By taking the time to properly prepare your septic tank for colder weather, you will save yourself money and stress in the long run.

5 Septic Tank Maintenance Tips

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by admin 7 Comments

Proper septic tank maintenance is good for your home, your health, your finances, and the environment. Leaks and blockage in your septic tank system can contaminate your soil and your water sources, leading to costly cleanups and repairs. How can you keep your septic tank in tip-top shape? Be sure to consider the following tips.

  1. Take steps to protect the tank and the drain field. An important part of septic tank maintenance is protecting your tank from any potential physical damage. Never plant anything but grass near your septic system, as roots from plants, trees, and shrubs can damage the system. You will also want to avoid operating any kind of heavy machinery near the system and avoid building anything (such as a shed or playhouse) on top of the system.
  2. Minimize the amount of waste you put in your tank. Remember, what you put in your septic system has a huge impact on its ability to do its job. A septic system contains living organisms that are specifically designed to break down and treat waste. You don’t want to make their job harder than it has to be or put anything in your septic system that might inhibit their ability to break things down. You also want to keep in mind that the more solids that you put into your tank, the more often it will need to be pumped. In order to keep your tank in good working condition, avoid washing food scraps down the drain in the kitchen, as well as grease and cooking oils. Be especially wary of garbage disposals, which can increase the amount of solid material in a septic tank by a staggering 50 percent. In the bathroom, the only thing that should be flushed down the toilet is wastewater and toilet paper. Avoid flushing disposable diapers, plastics, paper towels, tampons, facial tissues, sanitary napkins, dental floss, etc.
  3. Be wary of flushing cleaning products. It is true that the majority of household cleaning products will not affect your septic tank’s operations. However, there are cleaning products you need to be wary of flushing, as they could negatively impact the living organisms in your tank, impeding their ability to break down waste. Drain cleaners, for example, can kill the organisms in your tank and disrupt operations, as can large amounts of bleach, disinfectants, and drain and toilet bowl cleaners. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to keep all kinds of hazardous materials and toxic cleaning products out of your septic tank.
  4. Don’t overload the system. Overloading your septic tank system with water will cause problems. An overload will often stir up solid waste in the tank and can push it into the drain field, which can cause a failure. Always repair any leaky faucets or toilets, and also be aware of how certain household appliances can affect your system. For example, emptying substantial quantities of water from your hot tub or whirlpool into your septic tank will often cause an overload.
  5. Pump put your septic tank regularly. Your septic tank will need to be pumped out at regular intervals, typically once every three to five years, depending on your usage patterns and the age of your tank. This pump-out should be done by a certified, experienced professional.

Benefits of Having a Backup Sump Pump

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by admin No Comments

The American Society of Home Inspectors recently stated that over 60% of American houses are vulnerable to belowground flooding, but more concerning is the fact that weather changes are making it difficult to predict flooding. In past years, many U.S. cities have spent money on additional pumps because of unpredictable weather. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), many East Coast towns will experience three times the amount of normal flooding by 2030 – and the buildup will be gradual over the years.

This means that in 2045, 10 times more flooding inland will take place, and it will take longer for the water to recede. The rising sea level will also mean buildings further inland will be affected. Unfortunately, water belowground at low levels can cost major damages and health hazards, such as mold and mildew.

The Backup Sump Pump

At face value, it may seem like an unnecessary expense to have a backup sump pump, but most houses have backup features that aren’t questioned at all and may have no contribution in protecting and upgrading the value of the property. For instance, most houses have more than one cable TV box, which according to a 2014 study is one of the biggest energy users, second only to an air-conditioning unit. It consumes about $8 a month per box, so if you have three TV boxes, you can save over $30 by shutting them down when they are not in use. If you can find way to reduce the electricity consumption of all of your appliances, you will discover that you can afford the second sump pump easily.

The benefits of having a second sump pump are multiple:

  • If you live in a low-lying area, it is required by law to have at least one sump pump. If your main sump pump conks out, a backup unit will save you from any penalties.
  • Your backup sump pump could be battery-operated, which will make it practical in case of power outages not to mention safer to use when water is rising.
  • If the flooding is seriously threatening property and life, a second pump will help drain the water faster.
  • The value of your property increases.
  • You could negotiate for a discount on your home insurance with a second sump pump.

The initial cost for buying a backup sump pump may seem unattractive, but when you consider what you get in exchange on a long-term basis, you will see that you are actually going to save money and property with the second unit.

Managing Septic Tank Pumping to Avoid Expensive Repairs and Noncompliance

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by admin No Comments

Under New Jersey Administrative Code of 1990, which aims to protect and safeguard public health and safety and prevent water pollution, no one is allowed to tamper with, construct, or change an existing approved septic system. If not followed, these complex rules could lead to a hefty fine. This can be avoided with proper septic system maintenance.

Another reason for regular maintenance is the cost to repair or replace a septic system. In New Jersey, you will need to get a permit for repair and pay up to $25,000, especially if you are located in the central or northern New Jersey area, where the soil will have to be replaced with select fill.

As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining the septic system on your property. The maintenance should eliminate the need for emergency services provided you hire a professional team, like Affordable Pumping Services.

The Benefits of a Professional Pumping Service

Septic tanks are maintenance-specific. If there are four or more adults living in the same residential building, system maintenance should be done by a professional every year. However, this can change if:

  • The system is antiquated.
  • You have a malfunctioning system.
  • You use a garbage disposal unit, which increases the solids.
  • Your septic tank is small.

You might ask: What about additives? This is a debatable topic since the industry is still divided. Septic tanks, as a rule, are treated with microbes, which means they are meant to last for years even without the additives. A septic system that is functioning well removes bacteria, viruses, phosphorus, and nitrogen – the normal pollutants found in wastewater. However, the tank system does require periodic pumping, even with additives; otherwise, you will have a buildup of sludge and scum. In addition, your septic tank could fill up and cause seepage into the ground, endangering the environment and the quality of life in your community.

Doing Your Part in Caring for the Community

Assuming the septic system was properly designed and installed, maintenance will ensure a long lifespan for the septic system. It is a simple matter of septic tank pumping, which is not inconvenient or expensive. The cost of maintenance is a fraction of what an entire system would cost, so the expense is worth it. It even increases the value of your property if you can prove regular maintenance.

What Happens Without Regular Septic Tank Pumping

Just to give you an idea of the troubles that can be caused by one property owner failing to maintain a septic system properly, here are a few scenarios:

  • About a third of the U.S. population uses septic systems.
  • One tank can accommodate anywhere from 4,000 to 7,500 liters of waste.
  • If a tank is not pumped regularly, the undecomposed waste will end up in the drainage field, which will cause ground contamination.

Ground contamination could mean:

  • Unsafe tap water for drinking
  • Exposure to infections and diseases, like eye and ear problems and hepatitis

Aside from affordable and regular maintenance, there are other ways to reduce problems. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make sure the septic system is inspected at least once every two to three years. This is not the same as septic tank pumping.
  2. Reduce your water waste with more efficient toilets, scheduled and timed laundry, and baths instead of showers.
  3. Avoid throwing hazardous waste down the sink or toilet, including grease and oil.

Most important of all, include septic tank pumping and maintenance in your calendar of home duties and you will never have to worry about failed septic systems and noncompliance ever again.

Understand the Importance of Expert Grease Trap Maintenance

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Restaurant owners and managers understand the challenges that can occur with the maintenance of a grease trap. We specialize in catering to the needs of all types of restaurants, and we ensure that by using our services, you will be able to successfully avoid the hassles that can be associated with an overused or backed-up grease trap.

A grease trap prevents grease from interfering with the other parts of a restaurant’s plumbing. However, with the large amounts of grease that can be produced by a restaurant’s daily activities, sometimes the grease trap becomes clogged or backed up almost before the manager or restaurant owner can become aware of the problem.

Any restaurant owner or manager knows all too well the amount of grease that can be produced in a restaurant simply from a single night of serving dinner. This grease is designed to be skimmed away from the other liquids in your plumbing system so that it doesn’t cause problems. However, if a grease trap system has not been serviced in a long while, or even if it does not receive regular maintenance or pumping, a grease trap system can still become blocked and overworked.

At APS, we have extensive knowledge and experience in working with all the various types of grease traps and grease trap systems which exist. Grease trap systems can range from the more simply passive systems which can be found in the kitchen sinks, to the most elaborate grease traps which utilize a Grease Recovery Device. No matter the size of your restaurant or business, we can provide full services for grease trap pumping to suit your current and future needs.

Regular grease trap maintenance of all types of grease traps can ensure that restaurants avoid the costly and frustrating hassle of dealing with a backed-up grease trap. When a grease trap system does become overworked, the resulting effects can produce potential health and even safety violations.

Let APS serve all of your grease trap maintenance needs so you can avoid a health code violation or even the dangerous effects of a potential grease fire! We have the expertise and know-how to deal with removal and full-service pumping of any kind of grease trap system you might have in your establishment or business.