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Septic Tank System: How to Reduce the Stress

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Your septic tank system is a vital component of your home’s plumbing system. Many people, especially in rural parts of the country, depend on private septic systems to handle the solid waste and effluent—grey water—produced by their homes each day. However, many homeowners are unaware of the added stress they can inadvertently cause to their systems. The following post will outline how you can reduce unnecessary stress on your septic tank system.

Think Before You Flush

With a blind eye turned toward the consequences, many folks use their toilet as a garbage can. They may not know the damage they can cause to the delicate ecosystem within their septic tank when they flush inert materials or worse, household chemicals down the drain. The following materials should never be flushed.

  • Diapers
  • Feminine products
  • Chemicals
  • Harsh household cleaners
  • Dental floss
  • Hair
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cosmetics
  • Flammable liquids
  • Cat litter
  • Pet feces
  • Food
  • Medicines

Put simply, aside from bathroom tissue, if it does not come out of your body, it should not be flushed.

Think Before You Rinse

While kitchen garbage disposals provide a convenient way to eliminate unwanted kitchen waste such leftovers and food scraps, septic tank owners should use them sparingly. Too much food introduced into the septic system can lead to increased septic pumping/cleaning necessary to remove the solids. If your tank is not pumped regularly—at minimum every three years—you could face costly septic tank/drainfield repairs in the future.

Conserve Water

You might ask how water can harm a septic tank system. The answer is simple; too much water can stress the microorganism balance within the system. If they become stressed, they can die, which will lead to a total system failure. You can help to prevent this by fixing leaky faucets and toilets, using the dishwasher sparingly and spreading out your laundry duties throughout the week instead of doing it all on one day. This will limit the amount of water, as well as detergents, that enter your system.

Don’t Stress Your Drainfield

Avoid parking cars or heavy machinery on your septic drainfield. Their weight can compact the drainfield soils, thus reducing their ability to absorb the effluent. In addition, you should not install any landscaping over your septic tank and adjoining drainfield. Tree, shrub and plant roots will wreak havoc on your drainfield system by invading/clogging the drainpipes, the surrounding soil and thereby reducing absorption rates.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Septic Tank Pumping: Do I really need to pump my septic tank every three years?

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

When considering septic tank pumping, homeowners are often unsure how often they should schedule service for their home’s septic tank system. While the debate over how often you should pump your septic tank may vary and depends mostly on the number of household occupants and load on the system, the EPA “Environmental Protection Agency” recommends pumping and inspection at least every three years. The following post will outline the basics of septic tank care as well as inexpensive ways you can help to protect this vital component of your home’s plumbing system.

Pumping and Inspection
Regular septic tank pumping is crucial in maintaining the delicate system. As mentioned above, a good rule of thumb is to pump your system every three years. However, a lot depends on the size of the home, a number of occupants, the size of the septic tank and the volume of wastewater and solids introduced into the septic system. Your plumbing or septic tank contractor will inspect the system for leaks and determine if it is time to pump. Since septic tank systems often produce methane, a dangerous and flammable gas, only experienced and licensed plumbing or septic contractors should service the system.

Ways You Can Help
Septic tanks contain a delicate mix of microorganisms that break down the solids after they enter the system. What goes down your drains can have an adverse effect on these organisms. If they die, your septic system will fail, leaving you with an emergency plumbing situation and costly repairs.

  • Manage water usage. Excessive water entering the tank can upset the balance and affect the system in a negative way. You will benefit from household water conservation with improved septic tank operation and reduced chances your system will fail.
  • Septic systems are not trashcans. Everything you flush down the commode, grind in the garbage disposal or rinse down the drain will end up in your septic system. Never allow grease, hygiene products, diapers, dental floss, cigarette butts, cat litter, coffee grounds, household chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paper towels or flushable wipes to enter your septic tank system. Since these products do not break down, they will eventually lead to premature septic tank failure.
  • Protect your drainfield. Your drainfield is the area where septic tank effluent drains back into the ground. If it fails, your tank will reach capacity rather quickly causing all of your household drains—toilets, sinks and tubs—to fail as well. Avoid parking cars and heavy machinery on your drainfield, which can compact the soil and reduce absorption. Never plant deep-rooted plants or shrubs in or near the area as the roots can damage the drainfield and reduce absorption.

Septic and drainfield replacement can be costly, protect yours with regular septic tank pumping and inspection.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

How to Prevent your Bathroom Sink from Clogging

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

A slow-draining tub or bathroom sink is an inconvenience many homeowners face from time to time. They may find themselves standing in ankle deep water when bathing or constantly cleaning a dirty ring left around the tub or sink. You might be surprised to learn that the hair you shed naturally when shampooing or brushing is a major cause of slow-moving bathroom drains. Hair, especially long hair, can become entangled in the drain assembly where it will trap other debris and residue and slow down or stop up your drain completely. This post will outline some simple measures you can take to prevent hair from clogging your bathroom sink.

Protect your Drains
An easy and inexpensive solution to prevent hair from clogging your tub or bathroom sink is by using a hair catcher or screen. Sold at many hardware or drug stores, the simple device is designed to fit over most drain types and catch the hair before it enters the drain system where it can do harm. Installation and operation is easy as you simply lay the device over the drain and remove the collected hair between each use.

Avoid Brushing your Hair
While your hairbrush collects the bulk of the hair you shed naturally when brushing, you might be surprised at how much falls to the wayside. If you regularly brush your hair over the bathroom sink, as many people do, any hair not collected by the brush will fall into the sink and eventually get washed down the drain where it can cause trouble. You can avoid this problem by using a different mirror entirely or simply standing far away from the bathroom sink so the hair falls harmlessly to the floor.

Dispose of Debris Appropriately
Many folks treat their bathroom fixtures—tubs, toilets and sinks—as garbage disposals by assuming that if it will fit down the drain, it is okay to wash it down. Hair, cigarette butts, feminine products, pet litter and even Q-tips often find their way into the drain or sewage system. These products are a nuisance to sewage and septic tank systems and can cause extensive damage to your plumbing and home. Follow this simple rule—if is does not come out of you, don’t flush or wash it down the drain—to prevent these products from harming your home’s plumbing.

If you are experiencing sluggish or clogged drains, contact your plumbing contractor as soon as possible to avoid additional damage and home repairs.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Benfits of an Effluent Filter Installation on your Septic Tank

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Maintaining your home’s septic tank system with an effluent filter should be a top priority. Septic system repairs can be costly. Aside from the cost to repair a neglected system, when it fails you must face the inconveniences of backed up toilets, sinks and bathtubs or standing wastewater in your backyard. Whether it is regular pumping or annual inspection, folks go to great lengths to protect their septic systems. As diligent as some people are about septic tank maintenance, many have still not discovered the benefits offered by filtering their wastewater before it enters their leach field.

What is an Effluent Filter?
An effluent filter is a device or filter that is installed inside your septic tank. Its primary function is to filter out any solids in the wastewater leaving the tank and preventing them from entering the leach or drainfield. In most cases, an effluent filter can be installed within a day. However, installation time will vary and depend mostly on the age, location and accessibility of your septic tank system.

Benefits
When solid waste contaminates the leach field, it is only a matter of time before your septic tank system will fail. Solid waste will wreak havoc on your leach field by reducing its ability to absorb the wastewater from your septic tank. As time passes, the solid material will build up until your leach field becomes totally clogged, rendering your septic tank system useless and sending your home’s sewage system as well as your daily lifestyle into a tailspin. An effluent filter improves the filtration process, helps your septic tank to function much more smoothly and helps to protect your leach field from drainage issues caused by larger solids. In addition, by protecting your leach field with a professionally installed effluent filter, you reduce the chances of costly repairs should your drain field become clogged.

Installation
A licensed and certified plumbing contractor should only perform the installation of a septic tank filter. While the installation itself is not that time consuming it, however, does require opening the septic tank where dangerous gasses as well as hazardous materials could exist. In addition, older septic tank systems might require installation from inside the septic tank, a task best left to trained plumbing contractors with the necessary experience and knowledge for a safe installation. In these instances, the septic tank must be pumped before most technicians will enter it.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Consequences of a Neglected Septic Tank

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Your home’s septic system is a vital part of its everyday operation. A neglected septic tank can fail, leading to costly repairs. The efficient system is responsible for treating wastewater from your home. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to realize the importance of regular septic tank maintenance until its too late and costly repairs are necessary. This post will cover the basic operation of a septic tank system, how to maintain it and the negative impacts of a neglected septic tank.

How it Works
Standard septic tank systems are designed to treat the effluent or wastewater from your home. Wastewater enters the tank through the inlet pipe and baffle. After entering the tank, bacteria and microorganisms consume some of the solid material with the remainder settling to the bottom. As new wastewater enters the tank, it pushes the treated wastewater out, through a baffle or effluent filters where it is dispersed in the drain or leach field.

When to Pump
As time passes, the solid materials, those not consumed by the microorganisms, build up on the bottom of the tank forming the sludge layer. Once the sludge layer reaches thirty percent of the tanks capacity, pumping or cleaning is necessary. For example, if your tank is 60-inches deep, it should be pumped when the sludge layer becomes approximately 20-inches thick. How often you pump your septic tank depends on several factors and is debatable among many sources. Households with many residents might need to pump their system more frequently while those with fewer inhabitants can stretch the time between cleanings.

Neglecting your Septic System
A neglected system or one that is not pumped regularly will eventually fail which leads to costly septic and home repairs. As the sludge layer grows, the tanks capacity to hold wastewater shrinks. This leads to premature evacuation of wastewater into the drainfield, which will contain higher concentrations of organic solids. Too many solids entering your drainfield reduce its absorption capabilities and slow or stop the flow of the septic system. If this happens, drainfield failure is imminent and you will be faced with a major, septic system repair.

Suggested Solution: Inspect your System Regularly
Septic systems are designed to last for twenty years or more with proper care and maintenance. You can avoid the costly septic repairs and potential home damage by scheduling an annual septic tank inspection with your local plumbing contractor. In addition, practicing strong record keeping that states the time between cleanings will provide you with a reasonable timetable for future cleanouts. Since septic tank systems contain toxic and deadly gases, only licensed and certified plumbing contractors should ever access your system.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

How Landscaping can Damage your Plumbing

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

During the spring and summer months, many homeowners install new or replace existing landscaping to beautify the exterior of their home. It might be as simple as planting new plants and shrubbery to spruce up outdoor barbeque areas or larger projects such as removing the hedging that has gotten out of hand. Regardless of the task, before embarking on a landscaping project, you should consider the ramifications it could have on your plumbing system.

Locate the Lines
Before you make the first plunge with a shovel, you must verify there are no plumbing lines in the area. It takes just one strike from a shovel or other garden tool to rupture an existing water line. Aside form the initial shock you will experience as you are showered with water, you will face the added costs of repairing the applicable water line. Main water lines most often take a straight path from the water meter or pump to the house and should be easy to locate. Irrigation lines can encompass many areas of the yard and are more difficult to track down. Sewage lines, usually head to the street or septic tank system. Most have an exposed clean out that can help you identify their path.

Stay Clear of Sewer Lines
Never plant anything near your plumbing lines with deep root systems. As the foliage matures, their roots can become entangled in or even penetrate some sewer lines. This is especially true of older sewage lines — Orangeburg, clay or cast iron — that are very susceptible to tree roots. When shrub or tree roots penetrate a sewer line, rest assured it will just be a matter of time before you experience a major blockage that could cause sewage to back up into your home. This will require you to hire a plumber to snake the line and remove the blockage. In addition, once tree roots penetrate a sewer line, they most likely will return time and again, even after snaking.

Avoid Septic System Areas
In addition to sewer lines, you should also avoid planting anything near your septic tank and adjoining drain/leach field. Root systems will quickly penetrate a drain field seeking the rich, nutrient filled waste water dispersed from your septic tank. The roots will entangle, choke and damage the drain field and prevent adequate drainage. All septic tank systems require efficient drain fields necessary to disperse household waste water into the ground. Since drain field replacement can cost several thousand dollars or more, you would be wise to avoid any landscaping activities near their location.

If you think these are issues you might run into as you embark on your landscaping projects this year, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Home Plumbing: How You May Be Causing Damage

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Damage to your home plumbing system can often lead to unexpected repairs and/or inconveniences. Often, these unfortunate circumstances could have been avoided if the homeowner had just practiced some good plumbing sense. The information below will explain 1. What you can do to maintain your plumbing system and 2. Practices you should avoid (as they could lead to a plumbing contractor visit):

Ignoring the Signs

When there is trouble brewing within your home plumbing, there are often telltale signs of the pending failure. This is especially true when it comes to your sewer lines. Slow draining sinks and toilets that frequently clog are an indication of a pending blockage somewhere within your sewer line. Ignoring the symptoms will only allow the problem to grow worse over time. This can lead not only to additional damage in your plumbing system, but also major impairment to your home should the sewer lines backup and overflow.

Using Harsh Chemicals

Most homeowners have resorted to store bought chemicals that promise to clear away plumbing blockages. Although they are sometimes effective for clearing minor blockages, the corrosive chemicals present in the solutions can damage your pipes and can even cause bodily harm. Homeowners that own a house connected to a septic tank system would be wise to avoid using harsh chemicals as they can kill off or upset the natural balance of microorganisms crucial to the system.

Flushing No-no’s

A toilet is an ingenious device designed to rid our homes of organic waste. It was never intended to double as a garbage disposal. Flushing anything other than organic waste and bathroom tissue could damage the toilet, the sewer lines and septic tank systems. Feminine products, cosmetics, diapers, cigarette butts, paper towels and floor sweepings are harmful to your sewer lines and can lead to blockages.

Not Insulating

Many homes have exterior plumbing pipes subjected to outside weather conditions. Exterior plumbing pipes should always be insulated to prevent freezing. A frozen pipe can rupture, burst or leak causing untold damage to your home.

Failure to Drain Outdoor Plumbing and Fixtures

Exterior irrigation, fountains and their related pumps can freeze during the harsh winter months. Damage could include broken pipes, cracked foundations and shattered pump housings. These systems should be drained, insulated and protected before the onset of winter to avoid damage and repair costs come spring.

Protecting your home plumbing system is a sound investment that should never be ignored. For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Image Source: Flickr

Septic Tank Systems 101

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

If you want to avoid costly repairs, maintaining and caring for your septic tank system is crucial. Many homes in rural parts of the country where municipal sewer lines are not available depend on septic tank systems to dispose of and process household wastes. Without these efficient and cost effective systems, many people would rely on the traditional out house. Below you will find the basics of how a septic tank system works and what you can do to maintain its efficiency.

How It Works

A basic septic tank system is an on-site sewage treatment and disposal system most often buried beneath the ground. There are two main components of basic septic tank systems: 1. The holding tank and 2. The absorption field. Several things happen once household waste enters the tank:

  • Organic solids float to the surface forming the scum layer. There, the solids are digested by bacteria.
  • Inorganic/ inert solid materials and byproducts from bacterial digestions sink to the bottom forming the sludge layer.
  • Clear/gray water or effluent resides in the middle layer.

The Absorption Field

Often referred to as the drain field, the absorption field is a perforated circuit of pipes resting in a bed of gravel buried beneath the ground. The effluent/gray water in the septic holding tank flows into the pipes, drains into the gravel and is absorbed by the ground.

What to Avoid

Since septic systems rely on bacteria to break down and digest the organic material/solids, bacteria is vital to maintaining proper septic tank functionality and reduced pumping/cleaning. If bacteria die, your tank will quickly reach its capacity and will require frequent pumping to maintain any sort of function. Several household products can hurt or kill off the necessary bacteria in a septic tank.

  • Laundry detergents
  • Bleach and chlorine
  • Disinfectants
  • Acids
  • Petroleum products
  • Cleaning compounds
  • Toilet bowl cleaners
  • Drain openers

Aside from the aforementioned products, you should never allow the following items to enter your septic system.

  • Cigarette butts
  • Feminine products
  • Baby diapers
  • Pet waste
  • Kitty litter
  • Plastic/household trash

The bacteria present in your septic system are your friend. Without their diligent digesting of the scum layer, waste would quickly accumulate, overflow into the absorption field and prevent proper drainage rendering your system inoperable.

Maintenance

Septic tank systems require little maintenance aside from periodic pumping. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection recommends a septic tank pumping once every three years. If your home utilizes a garbage disposal, your tank should be pumped annually.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Image Source: Flickr

Overflowing Septic Tank: Reducing the chances this happens to you

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

An overflowing septic tank can be a nightmare for most homeowners. Unfortunately, once your septic tank starts to overflow, calling a professional plumber is usually your only recourse. You can reduce the chances of septic tank problems with regular maintenance and knowing what not to flush into the septic system. By avoiding these common septic mistakes, you could save thousands in unnecessary septic tank repairs.

To Flush or Not to Flush

The most common practice leading to an overflowing septic tank is introducing materials that are detrimental to the septic system. Certain materials, when introduced into the septic system cause the microorganisms to die. The organisms are a key component to a septic system as they break down the solids flushed into the tank. Without them, your system will reach its capacity prematurely. The following list is just a sample of what should not go into the system:

  • Feminine products
  • Harsh household cleaners or chemicals
  • Diapers
  • Condoms
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dental floss
  • Plastic
  • Dryer sheets
  • Paper towels
  • Grease

To avoid contaminating your septic system follow this common rule of thumb. If it did not go in your mouth, do not flush it into the septic tank.

Maintain Landscaping

Tree roots are a major problem for septic tank systems. The roots can wreak havoc on the systems drain field, causing expensive damage and leading to an overflowing septic tank. Keep trees and deep-rooted landscaping at least thirty feet from your septic system.

No Parking

Never park cars on or near a septic tank and its adjoining drain field. The weight of the vehicles can compact the soil over and around the drain or leech field damaging the pipes and reducing drainage. Without adequate drainage, your system will overflow.

Schedule Regular Maintenance and Pumping

How regularly you should pump your septic tank varies between different plumbing contractors. The most common schedule is about every three years, but it really depends on a number of factors such as the number of people using it. Keep in mind that if your septic tank reaches its capacity, scum and solids will enter its drain field reducing or preventing proper drainage. This will lead to an overflowing septic tank and costly repairs.

Your septic system is a crucial part of your home’s plumbing system. When they fail not only do you have a stinky mess in your yard, but also in your home as your toilets will not flush. Maintaining your septic system properly can help to avoid this unfortunate circumstance.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

How Septic Tanks Work: The Ins and Outs of the Septic Tank System

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Understanding how septic tanks work is especially important when living in a home with a septic system. Whether the septic system is new or has been in use for a while, things can happen that cause the system to not work properly.

History of Septic Tanks

The design is credited to John Mouras in the mid 1800s with a patent issued for the system around 1881. The patented septic tank system was brought to the United States in the late 1800s. The basic principle of the septic system is much the same as when Mouras first built a prototype for his home.

How Septic Tanks Work

Although the septic tank system is simplistic in its design, it functions at a high level of efficiency. Any time the washing machine, shower, or bathtub is used, the kitchen or bathroom sinks drain, or the toilet is flushed, the water and the waste exit the house through piping.

With a septic tank, both water and waste are directed into the septic tank. If you could see inside the tank, it would show some of the waste sinking to the bottom of the tank while some would be floating.

The waste, which can be from the toilet, hair, soap, and shampoo gunk from the shower drain, and bits and pieces of food from the kitchen drain, can settle to the bottom and deteriorate into what is called “sludge.”

The water accumulating above the sludge is called “effluent.” As water from the home continues to make its way into the septic tank, an equal amount of effluent is directed out of the tank and into the drainfield where it runs through a series of perforated pipes and gravel layers eventually melding into the ground (drainfield.)

In an effort to help prevent the gunk and sludge resting on the bottom being stirred up by incoming water and making its way into the drainfield, a baffle was added to the design.

When incoming water from the home causes outgoing water to be flushed out, it goes into a baffle, or what looks like an additional holding tank. If any sludge from the main tank makes its way through the outlet, chances are, the majority of the gunk will remain inside the baffle versus going into the drainfield.

Things That Can Become an Issue

  • The number of people in the home and the amount of water usage can become problematic
  • Doing multiple loads of laundry can cause the system to back up
  • Excessive rain can flood the drainfield
  • Outlets in the tank are clogged or perforated pipes in the drainfield are collapsed or clogged
  • The soil in the drainfield needs replacing
  • In time, lint particles from the washing machine filter clog the drainfield
  • The septic tank is overdue for maintenance and needs pumping out

For answers to your questions, contact the Pink Plumber today.

Image source: www.flickr.com

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Photographer: eutrophication&hypoxia