Households that are not served by public sewers usually depend on septic tank systems to treat and dispose of wastewater. A well-designed, installed, and maintained septic system can provide years of reliable low-cost service. When these systems fail to operate effectively, property damage, groundwater and surface water pollution, and disease outbreaks can occur. Therefore, it makes good sense to understand and care for your septic tank system.
How does a Home Septic System Work?
A conventional septic system consists of a septic tank, a distribution box, and a drainfield, all connected by pipes. When wastewater flows from the house, it is temporarily held in the septic tank where heavy solids (sludge) settle to the bottom. Lighter materials float on the surface of the water in the tank and are called the scum layer. This separation is known as primary treatment.
The solids that collect in the bottom of the tank and the materials that float in the scum layer are partially decomposed with the help of bacteria that occur naturally in human waste. Additional healthy bacteria can be introduced by using DrainOut SeptoBac Septic Tank Treatments. The liquid between the solids and the scum flows out of the tank through a baffle (or a tee) and into a distribution box. The distribution box evenly separates the flow into a network of drainfield pipes. Each pipe has holes in its underside that allow the water to drain into gravel-filled trenches. The water slowly seeps into the soil beneath the trenches where it is further treated. This process is called secondary treatment.
Important Note: As sludge accumulates in the bottom of the tank and its level rises, new wastewater coming from the house has less time for suspended particles to settle into the sludge layer. These suspended particles can flow into the absorption field.
The septic tank must be pumped out periodically to remove the accumulated sludge and scum and to prevent clogging the drainfield.
Caring for Your System:
- Water conservation is key. Practice water conservation. The more wastewater you produce, the more the soil must be treated and disposed of. By reducing and balancing your water use, you can extend the life of the drainfield, decrease the possibility of system failure, and avoid costly repairs. Don't wash too many loads of laundry in a day. Use low flush toilets and install water saving faucets and shower heads.
- Be careful what you flush. Do not flush items that are difficult to degrade and won't break down naturally. These include disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, cotton, condoms, paper products, cat box litter, plastics, cigarette filters or coffee grounds. All of these items can clog your pipes, tank and drain field.
- Be careful what goes down the drain. Avoid pouring chemicals such as bleach, drain cleaners, varnish, gasoline, oils, pesticides, antifreeze, disinfectants, paints, solvents, thinners or nail polish remover. Even in small amounts, these chemicals can kill the bacteria that break down the organic matter in wastewater and can seep into groundwater poisoning your drinking supply. Avoid disposing of grease, cooking fats, newspapers, paper towels, rags, coffee grounds, sanitary napkins, and cigarettes down the household drains as they cannot easily decompose in the tank.
- Beware of garbage disposers.Use of in-sink garbage disposal units can cause a rapid overload of the system. Unless your septic tank and leaching bed are designed to accommodate the increased water and organic load created from these devices, more frequent pumping may be required.
- Check for dripping faucets and leaking toilet valves or flappers and repair them quickly. Constant leaks can flood the drain field and cause system failure. A flooded system can also contaminate groundwater that is a source of drinking water.
- Be aware of unusual liquids at the ground surface. If system failure occurs, a black-grey odorous liquid may be seen at the soil surface. This can be hazardous to children and pets that should be kept away from the area until the problem is solved.
- Landscape your system properly. Don't place impermeable materials over your drainfield or replacement area. Materials, such as concrete or plastic, reduce evaporation and the supply of oxygen to the soil for proper effluent treatment. They can also hinder access to the system for pumping, inspection, or repair. Grass is the best cover for your system.
- Keep trees away from your system. Trees with aggressive roots can clog or rupture your septic system and cause excessive damage. Do not plant trees or shrubs on top of your drain field.
- Keep all runoff away from your system. Water from surfaces such as roofs, driveways, or patios should be diverted away from the septic tank and drainfield area.
- Be aware of odours. If odour is a problem, this could be a sign that sewage is surfacing, there is a blocked or ruptured line or another problem may be present.
- Pump your system regularly. Pump out your septic tank when needed. Don't wait until you have a problem. Routine pumping can prevent failures, such as clogging of the drainfield and sewage back-up into the home. Solid material accumulates in the septic system over time and may become more than your system can handle. If sludge reaches the outlet level and flows directly into the leaching bed, the pipes or bed may quickly plug. Pump out your tank very 1-5 years depending on the tank size and the number of people in your household.
- Pump your system when the weather is right. The best time to pump the tank is in the summer or early fall when the ground is not frozen. A good time to pump is before you go on vacation. This rest period will allow the drain field to dry out allowing partially decomposed organic waste to fully degrade.
- Don't drive over your septic system or drainfield. Driveways, concrete surfaces or asphalt should never be placed over your system. These can compress and compact the bed subjecting it to costly damage. Protect your system from damage. Keep traffic, such as vehicles, heavy equipment, or livestock off your drainfield or replacement area. The pressure can compact the soil or damage pipes. Before you plant a garden, construct a building, or install a pool, check on the location of your system and replacement area.
- Keep accurate records. Know where your septic tank system is and keep a diagram of its location. Records of its size and location may be available at your local health agency. It is also wise to keep a record of maintenance on the system. These records will be helpful if problems occur, and will be valuable to the next owner of your home.
- Get on a regular treatment schedule. By timing your weekly doses of SeptoBac along with your weekly cleaning schedule, you will maintain a continuous level of bacteria within your septic tank and reduce the risk of septic back-up and damage to your system. . Inspect your system once each year. Check the sludge and scum levels inside your septic tank to assure that the layers of solids are not within the early warning levels. Also check the tank to see if the baffles and tees are in good condition. Periodically inspect the drainfield and downslope areas for odors, wet spots, or surfacing sewage. If your drainfield has inspection pipes, check them to see if there is a liquid level continually over 6 inches. This may be an early indication of a problem.
- Call a licensed professional for service. If you require an inspection or pumping service for your tank, always call a professional. The area should be well ventilated and someone should be standing nearby.
- Never enter a septic tank! The tank contains extremely toxic gases which can kill you in seconds. Never enter any septic tank. Poisonous gases or the lack of oxygen can be fatal. Any work on the tank must be done from outside.
Plumbing systems in every home develop clogs and there is no way to steer clear of this. Without proper knowledge, cleaning a drain in your home can be an aggravating experience.
If your drains tend to get clogged, whether it is your sink, floor, or bathroom drain, there are simple steps you can take to rid yourself of these clogs without having to call in your local plumber. Read these tips to keep your drains free of clogs and keep draining water properly.
Tip 1: First try using the typical home remedy, the plunger, with cleaning any clogged drain or toilet. An inexpensive tool, a majority of minor drain clogs can be cleared out with some instant plunger action.
Tip 2: If your toilet is stopped up and if the water level is low, there is an alternative if a plunger doesn't work.
- Fill a bucket or plastic wastebasket with warm water and pour it into the bowl from waist level or higher.
- Repeat if necessary after the water level is once again low.
Tip 3: For tougher clogs, go to your local store and purchase DrainOut Drain Openers for clogs in your drains that you cannot get out with a plunger. DrainOut has specific solutions for specific drains and promblems. Some other chemical and caustic drain cleaners can damage plastic pipes or garbage disposals installed in kitchen sinks also keep in mind that repeated use of chemical and caustic drain cleaner solutions can damage your plumbing over time but not DrainOut Drain Openers as they are formulated to be environmentally friendly and non-caustic.
Tip 4: If, after a few attempts, these tips have not helped you to clear your drain of clogs, purchase or rent a mechanical snake to clean drains or call a licensed, professional plumber to come and take over. Excess force on any drain can lead to permanent damage to your pipes and fixtures.
DO's & DON'TS:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q. What can I do on a regular basis to keep my drains from clogging?
- Don't pour liquid grease or oil down the drain.
- Use biodegradable soaps and detergents.
- Open and close your valves once a year to ensure that they are working.
- Avoid using caustic drain cleaners and try using a plunger first.
- Don't put any dental floss, feminine products, or moist towellettes of any kind down the line.
- Do re-caulking around the tub and the shower every three years, or as needed, to help prevent water damage.
- Do Repair or replace a leaky faucet promptly.
- Do check under sinks for moisture or leaks. Even a slow leak can waste as much as 15 or 20 gallons of water a day. But a leak not only wastes water; it can eventually ruin your faucet or even your cabinets and floors.
- Leaky faucets are ordinarily caused by seals which are dirty or worn. You may either clean or replace the worn parts, or you may want to install a new faucet.
A. For kitchen sinks and laundry tub lines: fill up the sink with hot water and let it drain. This fills the pipe instead of just hitting the bottom of the line; and it pushes any debris to the main line. If you have a problem that keeps returning, you may have a bigger blockage, in that case go to your local store and purchase DrainOut Drain Openers.
Q. Are there any products that you should regularly put in your drains for maintenance?
A. DrainOut Freshener & Clog Preventer is a natural enzyme based product that keeps your drains flowing smoothly. Our experts recommend not using caustic chemical cleaners in your lines as these harsh acids can lead to more problems for your drain line in the long run. They can be a temporary fix that leads to a larger problem.
Q. What is the best way to prevent buildup of hair in your shower drain?
A. A drain drainer is a great tool for keeping hair from going down your drain. Place a strainer in the opening of the drain. You will want to be sure to clean the strainer regularly; this will help prevent hair and other debris from entering your shower drain. If you have standing water in your shower you may have a blockage further in the line.
Q. Liquid Plumbr or Drano - are these products I should be using in my lines?
A. It is best to not use liquid drain cleaners like Drano in your lines. These products are really only a temporary fix, and if they do not break down the clog they actually get trapped in your line causing acid erosion to the line itself. Drano is an acid - which can cause skin, eye, respiratory, and uniform damage.
Q. How do I eliminate the odor coming from my garbage disposal?
A. Foul odors can occur when there is a buildup of food debris in the disposal. To eliminate these odors, buy DrainOut Freshener & Clog Preventer which will keep your disposer drain flowing smoothly and freshen with the scent of lemons. There is also Glisten Disposer Care which foams away grunge and odor built-up over time in the disposer unit.