Septic tank maintenance

October, 2011:

How Septic Additives Help Septic Systems?

Houses, particularly in the rural areas have septic tanks where the water from the sinks and toilets gets collected. The natural bacteria present in the tank are responsible for breaking down a huge amount of solid material into gas or liquid. However, the bacteria are unable to break down certain types of solids such as plastic and other similar materials. These solids settle down at the bottom of the septic tank and form sludge. The solids, which are lightweight float on the surface. Septic tank additives work towards breaking down such types of solids. 

Septic additives are of two types biological and chemical. In fact, chemical additives are responsible for breaking up oil and grease. Some chemical additives contain sulfuric acid as the prime ingredient. Although, the acid is highly capable of breaking down heavy solids, it also causes a physical damage to the septic tank. Therefore, additives containing sulfuric acid are no more in production. 

Unlike the chemical additives, biological additives contain bacteria, enzymes or yeast. In new septic systems, these additives act as starter agents.  Flushing these additives down the toilet on a weekly or a monthly basis will keep your septic system in a good shape. Numerous studies have proved that biological additives cause no harm to the environment. 

For almost more than four decades now, the effectiveness of septic tank additives have been a huge point of debate among researchers and the companies manufacturing septic additives. Some of the researchers are of the opinion that the anaerobic decomposition process is rarely of any use to the septic systems. However, experiments and researches carried on the recent past tell a different story. 

Septic tank additives are easily available in the supermarkets and hardware stores nearby. You must have come across several septic additives commercials on the television as well as Internet. All of these claim to be the best. However, blindly falling for such claims will not really help. It is important that you choose an additive only after you have carried out a good amount of research. Before buying one, check out its ingredients. 

Some chemical additives when flushed down the toilet or the sink may kill the bacteria present in the tank. Therefore, most of the experts suggest homeowners to go for organic septic additives. The best thing about these additives is that they, in most of the cases, eliminate the foul odor caused due to the over-filled septic tanks. 

With some products the quality of bacteria in a biological additive is too small as compared to the quality already present in the tank; commercial grade additives with high count bacteria colonies will make a huge amount of difference. Most of the people are unable to differentiate between a biological and chemical additive and therefore, believe that additives kill all the good bacteria present in the septic tank. You need to know that the ones that kill bacteria are chemical additives and not the biological ones. 

Even though there are various other ways that can help you in taking good care of your septic system, septic additive turns out to be one of the most effective ways. To get the most desirable results, it is important that you choose the right additives.

What Causes Septic Tank Systems to Back Up?

A septic tank is one of the prime components of a sewage treatment system known as a septic system. These tanks are common in areas not connected with the sewage pipelines set up by the government or other private organizations. A septic tank forms the major drainage system of many rural areas across the globe. It is a perfect substitute for city’s sewer systems. Improper maintenance of these tanks can lead to backup and therefore, it is very important to check if the tanks are operating efficiently on a periodic basis.

Block lines are one of the major factors responsible for causing a septic tank system to back up. The blockage in lines can occur due to a number of reasons. For instance, flushing down waste materials like tampons, garbage and diapers can cause the tank to back up. Therefore, flush only those materials into the toilet that can pass through the drain without choking the line.

Not many people are aware of the fact that waste produced in the kitchen too is highly responsible for causing the septic tank systems to back up. When you pour a greasy substance down the drain, it hardens and gets accumulated in the septic plumbing and covers the inner surface of the drain. Due to the blockage caused by the hardened greasy material, the other waste that you pour out is not able to pass through very easily.

It is not just the blocked lines causing the septic tank system to back up, as back up can also cause due to some fault in the tank itself. A periodic septic pumping is very important to prevent the tank from backing up. The tank should also contain sufficient number of septic tank bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for breaking down the waste matter present in tank. If your tank does not have a high level of bacteria, the solid waste transforms into sludge and blocks the pipeline.

Septic tank systems back up also occur due to a damage caused in the underground lines that connect to the tank. The damage may be a result of a slight shift in the earth for instance, during an earthquake. You may yourself unintentionally damage the lines if you drive your vehicle across the areas where the tank is buried. 

What should you do when you realize that your septic tank system is backing up? This is the question asked by many people. You first need to check if the problem lies in the lines connecting to the tank or the tank itself. Use a drain rooter and bacterial treatment to solve the problems. If the problems still exists, the fault is not with the lines, but with the tank. In such a case, you will need to seek assistance of a qualified and a professional technician. To keep the septic tank in good shape, it is important to take the necessary measures. Do not overload the septic system. Also, make sure that you do not pour any toxic chemicals into your kitchen sink, as this can kill the bacteria in the tank. Check your toilets and sinks for leaks and drips periodically.

Winter Care for Septic Tanks

The owning of a septic tank is a serious issue and its maintenance cannot be taken lightly. There are a dozen or more items that can go wrong with a septic system and a good portion of these can occur in the winter months. It is due to this that the time is now for inspecting and maintaining the system to the standards that will allow it to flow freely and trouble free this winter. There are around three to four areas that can cause some serious concern for a person that owns one of these systems. Let’s look at them now. 

The first area of inspection should be that of the cover. There is a lot that can happen with a cover that can actually cause it to be damaged a great deal. If you are unable to inspect the cover due to being buried low into the ground, and then make sure that, you have it inspected the next time that the system is given overall maintenance. If this cover is not intact, it can allow contents to seep out or rain water to seep in. This brings up to the actual contents of the septic tank. 

The amount of sludge that is in the tank at any given time, will greatly affect the performance of the tank. It is often advised that you have the tank pumped out before winter weather hits. This is especially true if you have a lot of material that goes in and it has been a while since the last pumping. In winter a tank has a tendency to not perform as well as it should, so make its job easier by not allowing it to build up too much content. 

One fear is that if you do not place anything in the tank that it will freeze. There are two reasons why this is not the case. The first is the fact that many of the pipes are buried low into the ground. This helps them to not be affected by the cold weather. Another reason for this is due to the large amount of wastewater that is flushed through the system on a regular basis. This also helps to make sure that the water in the system does not freeze and cause any serious issues.

In areas that a person experiences a lot of snow, there is the problem of running a snow plow over the drain field and damaging several of the pipes that are associated with the operation of the system. A snowplow is one of the more destructive things to a septic system for a person that has issues with it in the winter months. If you have a lot of snow and clearing the drain field is essential consider a small hand snow mover to use in this area. 

These are all but a few of the many things that can be done in helping to make sure that a person has the care that they need for their septic system in the middle of winter. The cost of repair or even replacement can be through the roof anytime but having to have it done in the winter months can almost double the overall cost.