Caring For Your Septic Tank System And Preventing Contamination
On-site wastewater disposal systems, known to residents as septic systems, are used to effectively deal with sanitary waste. These containers are carefully designed and crafted in order to protect local drinking water sources and make sure there is no threat to them.
But when improperly installed or not properly maintained, septic tanks can be a significant source of groundwater contamination which can pose serious threats to local public health. Once the sewage is leaked from bad septic tanks, it can cause waterborne diseases in humans and devastate aquatic and animal life in the area.
Some of the effects can also cause havoc in your local wastewater treatment plant, which can be a costly headache to fix.
So as a homeowner, what can you do to make sure you are doing your part in maintaining your septic tank and preventing it from contaminating the soil around your home or in your greater area? Take a look at our tips below:
Tip #1: Inspecting And Maintaining Often
Typically, a household’s septic tank system will need to be inspected regularly to ensure that it is working as intended and there is no damage. This will include pumping the household’s septic tank, a process that experts recommend you do every three years.
The timeline becomes reduced if you’re using a system that has mechanical components or electrical switches, since these need to be checked at least yearly.
Pumping the septic tank will be affected by a few different things, namely the size of the household, how much wastewater they have built up, how much of the tank contains solids, and the overall size of the septic tank.
But why is pumping the tank so important? The reason is that scum and other solids can build up and be carried into the section known as the drainfield. Once the drainfield has been blocked, it can break and require you to replace it in the future.
Another important reason is that sludge build-up in your tank can actually impact how efficient it is - with less room, the tank can’t hold as much wastewater as it is supposed to.
Ideally, you should set up a schedule for yourself that will remind you to check the pump and pumping interval. But it’s also a good idea to hire a septic tank professional to come to handle the inspection and formally check the sludge layers to see if they need pumping or not.
Tip #2: When The Professionals Come, Pay Attention
When you contact a service provider to come to check your septic tank, they’ll be doing several things that are important to take note of.
The first is that they will check the general parts and see if there are any leaks, as well as examine the system to see how much scum or sludge build-up there is.
This is your opportunity to start keeping records regarding the maintenance of the septic system.
Part of your maintenance records should be to keep track of the sludge levels they report and any other faults or issues. The professional you hired should also be noting down the repairs needed and the general condition of the septic tank in their reports.
Remember that it’s important to work with a licensed service provider and ensure that they are following state-required procedures.
Tip #3: Be Smart About Water Use
On average in the US, single-family homes can easily use close to 70 gallons per person in a single day. A leaking faucet that hasn’t been fixed can add up to as much as 200 gallons of wasted water in the same time period.
All of the water used by a residential home ends up going down the pipes and into the septic system. This ultimately means the more water you conserve, the less water will end up inside the septic tank. If your tank has to do less work, it will likely last longer without experiencing any issues.
Some of the general things you can do to save water in your home include:
Installing more efficient toilets. Toilets are one of the major household water users, accounting for nearly 30% of your daily use. High-efficiency models use significantly less water per flush.
Installing smart faucets and showerheads. These flow-restricting devices help reduce the general amount of water used by reducing the volume of water you get when you open them. When you use just as much as you really need, you reduce the load caused by additional water in your septic tank system.
Washing bigger loads of laundry. When you wash small loads only, you’re creating more water waste than you should. Instead, make sure you are inserting a proper load size and run the machine only when you can add a full load. You should also spread out your washes throughout the week instead of doing them all in one day.
Tip #4: Practice Better Waste Disposal
The next thing you need to keep in mind is how you are disposing of waste.
When you put it down the drain, whether that’s by flushing it down the toilet or by putting it down your garbage disposal, it will end up going into your septic system.
That means you need to be mindful of what you are putting down the drain - a septic tank cannot do the same job as your garbage can. This is because many of these materials can cause damage to the system that will need costly repairs.
Make sure you avoid putting any of these materials down your drains:
Fats, oils, and grease (FOG)
Non-flushable sanitary wipes or hygiene products
General household items
Chemicals and pharmaceuticals
You want to avoid them because adding these materials can contribute to the build-up of sludge in your system.
Experts also recommend that you use your home garbage disposal system sparingly. Regular use here is likely to lead to more solids and that means your pump may need maintenance twice as often as those who do not use them. Think about composting or alternative disposal methods instead.
Another idea is to ask your septic tank professional to install what is known as an effluent filter on your septic tank. This filter captures solids before they are able to wreak havoc, and is easier to clean and maintain in general.
Tip #5: Beware Of Chemical Drain Cleaner
Here is something that might surprise you: your septic system is full of living organisms and bacterias that have one focus: to digest household waste.
And so when you are pouring chemicals and drain cleaner down the pipes, you are actually killing the organisms that are doing all this good work.
These are the same organisms that live in the sewer and wastewater treatment plants - it is a large biological reactor. As wastewater travels through the sewer, small amounts of the organic material (as measured by Chemical Oxygen Demand or COD) are made more soluble by certain types of beneficial bacteria present in the waste stream.
Part of the organic material they feed off of is readily biodegradable, (rbCOD), some of it can be biodegraded relatively quickly (fhCOD), and some of it takes a great deal of time to solubilize (sbCOD). Under normal conditions, these bacteria are not abundant or efficient enough to make much of a difference in these ratios given the changing environmental conditions they encounter along the way (especially variations in temperature, pH, alkalinity, toxicity, and available oxygen).
The In-Pipe Solution
Our solution changes the game of micronutrients and organisms completely.
Some of the most adaptable and efficient bacteria on earth come from the soil. Just think about it: billions of years of evolution of one of the most basic life forms, in an environment that is changing all the time.
Our specialized blend of the most efficient types of these bacteria thrives in any environment found in the sewer, going to work on the nutrients in the waste stream with or without oxygen, using nitrogen if that’s available – and under a wide range of temperature and pH conditions.
We continuously (24/7/365) dose high concentrations of these non-pathogenic, facultative, spore-forming bacteria throughout the entire sewer network with small, self-contained, and battery-powered dosing units, using the time it takes for the waste to travel to the plant to make much more of it soluble and biodegradable.
Our service is specifically tailored to each collection system, taking into account the size and complexity of the collection system, and the detailed operating profile of the treatment plant.
We supply equipment and bacteria, and service and refill the installed dosing system – completely turnkey - for a flat monthly fee. In many cases, the cost savings generated from a reduction in sludge pays for our service in 12 months or less.
Your sewer collection system is a large bioreactor. If it is not an active part of your treatment process today, it should be. Contact us today to find out how we can customize a solution for you!