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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.

How Annual Drain Cleaning helps to Avoid Sewer Line Repairs

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

With the arrival of spring, many homeowners get started on the lengthy to-do list they compiled over the winter months. While annual drain cleaning is not on the top of most lists, it should be to help avoid the inconvenience of lost service and the costs associated with unexpected sewer repairs. The following post will explain the benefits of maintaining your home’s sewage system, as well as a few other tips that can help you protect your home’s sewage lines.

Why Schedule Annual Sewer Cleaning

Drain cleaning is an important aspect of home plumbing maintenance. As time passes, food, grease, hair and scum can build up inside your drains, P-traps and sewer lines. All of these materials can cause an obstruction that can slow and eventually block the flow of effluent and waste from leaving your home. If that happens, you could face a nasty sewage or sewer gas back up, inside of your home.

In older homes where dated sewer lines may still be in use, drain cleaning carries even more significance. The reason is that sewage lines before the advent of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) were often made of Orangeburg (wood pulp and pitch), cast iron or even clay. While suitable for the period, these materials were notorious for cracking, splitting, corroding or separating at the joints as they aged, thus allowing easy access for tree roots to enter and feed off the nutrient-rich effluent. As time passes, the roots grow larger and act as a catchall, trapping debris and eventually creating an impassable blockage.

Scheduling annual drain cleaning with your local plumbing contractor is the best way to maintain your sewage lines and avoid the hassles associated with a slow or clogged drain. In addition, it also provides your plumber with an ideal opportunity to inspect the condition of your sewer lines and plumbing system to help identify problem areas and address them before they fail.

How You Can Help

The following tips can help you protect your sewage system and avoid unexpected repairs and breakdowns in the future.

  • Do not attempt repairs or drain cleaning on your own. Without the proper tools, knowledge and experience, you can cause more damage than good, violate local building codes and put your family at risk. Only licensed, insured and experienced plumbing contractors should work on your home’s plumbing system, as they hold the knowledge to safely repair and service your plumbing system.
  • Never park cars or heavy machinery on or near your sewer lines, septic tank and drainfield areas. Their weight can compact the drainfield soils necessary for drainage and damage sewage lines.
  • Think before you plant. Trees and shrubs should never be planted near your sewage lines, septic tank and drainfield.
  • Maintain your home’s plumbing systems by scheduling annual drain cleaning and inspection with your plumbing contractor.

For answers to your plumbing 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.

Septic Drain Field Protection

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Septic drain field protection should be a top priority as repair and/or replacement costs can add up to thousands of dollars. Many homeowners fail to realize the importance of regular septic tank maintenance until it is too late and the damage is done. A neglected septic tank can expose your drain or leach field to solid waste particles that will reduce its ability to absorb the effluent or grey wastewater produced by your home. This post will outline important septic system information every septic tank owner should know.

Pump Your Septic Tank Regularly
The industry debate rages on as to how often you should pump your septic tank. While most experts agree that you should pump your septic tank at least once every three years, the answer depends mostly on the size of your home, the number of bedrooms and the number of occupants as well as the condition of your septic tank and adjoining drain or leach field. Failure to pump your septic tank regularly can lead to disastrous consequences such as expensive damage to your drain or leach field and septic system failure. In addition, when your septic system fails, you expose your home to toilet, tub and sink backups or overflows that could cause significant and costly water damage to your home.

Don’t Flush Harmful Chemicals or Materials
Common household cleaners can upset the balance of the microorganisms within your septic system. The organisms are necessary to break down and consume the solid organic waste produced by your household. Heavy use of these cleaners—ammonia, bleach, laundry detergent and petroleum based products among others—can kill off the organisms. Should this happen, your septic tank system will eventually fail and require costly repairs.

Avoid Parking Cars or Heavy Machinery on your Drain field
Effluent or grey water from your home’s septic system travels to your drain or leach field where it is dispersed through a series of drainpipes into the ground. A lot of planning, preparation and labor goes into the construction of a septic drain or leaching field so the ground underneath can absorb the effluent efficiently. Cars or heavy machinery should never come near your drain field as their weight could compact your drain field and limit its ability to absorb the effluent efficiently. If this happens, you face costly drain field repairs and/or replacement as well as the possibility of sewage backing up into your home.

Additional Septic Tank Information

  • Never treat your toilet as a garbage can. Many things such as dental floss, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts etc. are not biodegradable and should never enter your septic system.
  • Do not landscape your septic drain field. Other than grass, you should never plant anything above your leach field.
  • Ask your plumbing contractor to install an effluent filter. The device is designed to prevent solid waste from entering your leach field.

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

Septic Tank Size: Things to consider during a replacement

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Replacing your septic system requires careful planning before starting the project. Many considerations such as septic tank size, type and size of leach or drain field as well as the tank’s composition must be made. While your plumbing contractor will play an important role in designing and sizing the new septic system, you will be faced with important decisions during the process.

Type of Septic Tank
The number one decision most homeowners face during a septic tank replacement is which type to purchase, concrete or plastic. Listed below are the Pros and Cons of both plastic and concrete septic tanks.

  • Plastic Septic Tanks
    • Pros
      • Highly crack resistant
    • Cons
      • Improper installation can cause the tank to pop or float to the surface
      • Are susceptible to damage during installation
      • Are not approved for use in some states
  • Concrete Septic Tanks
    • Pros
      • Maintain higher effluent levels versus plastic tanks
      • Due to their weight, popping or floating to the surface is eliminated
      • Concrete septic tanks are very durable and long-lasting
      • Concrete septic tanks are approved for use in all states
    • Cons
      • Concrete septic tanks are more expensive to manufacture and install
      • Because they lack flexibility, they can crack under extreme circumstances
      • Due to their weight, they are difficult to install and require heavy machinery
      • Are susceptible to leaks due to cracking

Size of Septic Tank
The size of your septic tank will depend on several circumstances including the state you reside as well as the number of occupants in the household. Most municipalities will require both a soil test and water percolation test to determine the size and location of the septic tank and adjoining drain field. Most regulatory agencies will require a licensed plumbing or septic contractor carry out the tests.

The number of household occupants also carries a lot of weight in the septic tank size equation. The number of bedrooms in the house usually determines the number of its occupants. Commonly, one to three-bedroom homes require at least a 1000-gallon septic tank. In most cases, a four or five bedroom home would require up to a 1500-gallon septic tank.

Replacing septic tank system is a major home improvement project. It is important to hire a professional plumbing or septic contractor who is carrying the experience required for the project as well as the knowledge to install it correctly and legally according to the codes and regulations in your area.

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

Purchasing a Home with a Septic Tank? Ask these important questions first

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Purchasing a home is a major decision requiring important considerations before signing on the dotted line. When you are purchasing a home with a septic tank, additional scrutiny is necessary to avoid unexpected septic repair costs, which could be significant. By asking some pointed questions beforehand, you can get a better idea of the condition of the system and if repairs will be needed. This will allow you to adjust your offer and avoid any surprises after the sale.

First, What is a Septic Tank?

A septic system is a private sewage treatment plant to handle solid waste and effluent from the residence. A septic system consists of a holding tank and drain or leach field. After solid waste and effluent from the home enter the tank, microorganisms breakdown the solids while the effluent travels to the leach field where it is absorbed into the surrounding soil.

Where is the Septic System?

First off, you should know where your septic tank and leach field are to avoid damaging them and where to direct the plumbers when they need to service it. Your tank and leach field area must be protected to maintain proper operation. Never park cars or heavy machinery on or near a septic tank or leach field. In addition, when landscaping, you would not want to plant trees, shrubs or plants in these areas.

How old is the Septic System?

Older septic systems sometimes require more service and maintenance. The reason is as time goes by; the leach field can deteriorate and lose its absorbing properties. This is usually a result of septic tank neglect — failure to pump — over the years.

When was it Last Serviced?

As mentioned above, failing to pump and service your septic tank can have lasting ramifications on the leach field. As the solid materials in the tank build, eventually, they will enter the drain field outlet and enter the leach field. When this happens, they diminish the absorption capabilities of the field, which will prevent effluent from draining properly. Ramifications of this lead to sewer back up and leach field replacement, which can be costly.

Why are these Questions Important?

The aforementioned questions are important to protect your interests when buying a house with a private septic system. A neglected septic system is a prime candidate for major repairs. Since these repairs are costly, it can significantly increase the overall purchase price of the home and require more out-of-pocket expense.

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

How Big of a Septic Tank Do I Need?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

The most common things to consider before installing a new septic system are the size and type of tank needed. Private sewage disposal is a growing trend within the United States — 33 percent of newly constructed homes are opting for onsite wastewater treatment. Septic tank systems combined with a soil absorption system, or a drain field, is the least expensive method available for treating residential wastewater. The size of the septic tank you will need depends mostly on the size of the house and the number of people who will reside there. Common residential septic tanks range in size from 750 gallons to 1,250 gallons.

Septic Tank Basics

A septic tank is a self-contained unit designed to hold residential wastewater. The system is comprised of two main components: the tank and the drain, or soil absorption field. After entering the tank, solid waste settles on the bottom of the tank creating what is referred to as the sludge layer. Oil, grease and soap residue create the scum layer at the top. The wastewater, or effluent, makes up the middle layer. As the tank fills, the effluent exits the tank and enters the drain field where it is absorbed into the ground.

Types of Septic Tanks

There are three common types of septic tanks used in residential construction.

· Concrete septic tanks

· Polyethylene/plastic septic tanks

· Fiberglass septic tanks

Concrete septic tanks are the most common, but because of their weight require heavy machinery to install. Polyethylene and fiberglass are much lighter, one-piece units. This makes them ideal for remote, hard to reach places. Before purchasing a septic tank system, check with your local building department for codes and regulations regarding onsite wastewater treatment.

Sizing Your Septic Tank

Several variables determine the size of septic system you will need to install. The homes square footage, the number of bedrooms and the number of people who will live there. The bulleted list below represents approximate septic tank sizes based on the number of bedrooms and home square footage.

· 750 gallon septic tank for one and two bedroom homes less than 1,500 square feet

· 1,000 gallon septic tank for three bedroom homes less than 2,500 square feet

· 1,250 gallon septic tank for four bedroom homes less than 3,500 square feet

The values above are an estimate. Local building codes can vary by region. Before purchasing a septic tank system, discuss the different septic tank options available with a professional plumbing contractor licensed in your area. For answers to your septic tank questions and concerns, contact the Pink Plumber today.

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