Septic tank maintenance

May, 2012:

Dead grass over sand mound

It was never an unusual thing for you to pay extra care to your sand mound. Your septic professional broke the news to you that you had to have a sand mound for a septic system because the water table was very high. The sand mound was always considered as a more expensive and complicated sand mound septic system.

The way a sand mound works was still pretty much like an ordinary septic system with a few exceptions. It also has a tank for collecting the wastewater that your household produced. In the tank, anaerobic bacteria still breaks down the solid waste materials that settles at its bottom, allowing the clear effluent to be dispersed into the sand filter and into the bio-mat for further purification before heading out into the drain field. This is done before the treated wastewater gets absorbed in to the soil absorption system and into the water table to be used again in the surrounding environment. It has similar components as a conventional septic system but are all modified. As you can see, it was a system that is meant to be raised above the surface, hence the mound structure. Because it is a mound structure to begin with, the sand mound system has been always known to be a wastewater treatment system that is exposed to the various changes in the environment, particularly to the changes in the weather. The sand mound should be well-protected from the elements, especially from the cold weather. Usually, it is mandatory for a construction fabric to be installed before placing the top soil layer of the sand mound. This keeps the entire sand mound system warm and running even in freezing weather.

You were always very vigilant in taking good care of your sand mound and your yard. It was a new thing for you to see dead grass over the sand mound. You didn’t have that several months after the installation of your sand mound system. The septic expert told you that they only placed a thin layer of soil over your sand mound. This didn’t retain that much water as the rest or the soil in your yard because the aerobic bacteria were prioritized in this area. The aerobic bacteria need a high level of oxygen in the soil. If the soil is soggy, there is less oxygen and this would deplete the amount of aerobic bacteria that will purify the pre-treated effluent in the soil absorption system. The purification process should always be maintained in your sand mound system so that contamination would not happen. If the effluent still has the pathogens and pollutants when it gets distributed back into the environment, you could expect harmful effects to the surrounding water systems in your area.

Your septic expert instructed you not to water the dead grass over your sand mound because this will make it had for the soil absorption system to take in the pre-treated wastewater. It will then back up into your home and onto your yard. The soil on the sand mound should not be made any thicker so that the effluent could easily evaporate and not be retained in the soil enough to lower the oxygen level. Both anaerobic bacteria and aerobic bacteria should be well cared for to make sure that the entire sand mound system runs efficiently from beginning to end.

Dead grass over the sand mound is a good thing because it is a sign that your sand mound system is functioning very well. It tells you that there are no leaks or slow drains. So even if dead grass could really put you off as a homeowner, you have to get used to this if it is on your sand mound. It would definitely be more of a compliment for you to have the dead grass because to the trained eye, it would always mean that you are very responsible in maintaining and caring for your sand mound system.

What are the best cesspool treatments?

Owning a house is one thing but having a cesspool is another. It is actually included in the package of owning a new home. When you moved in to your newly purchased house with your family, you’re already aware that you have a cesspool system and not the conventional septic system. Even so, it should still be maintained and cared for properly, much like a septic system is. When you do this, only then would you be able to maximize its use for decades to come. One of the things that you should do to maintain your cesspool is to apply cesspool treatments into it. These are several of the best cesspool treatments will be able to help you maintain a happy household:

1. Ecological Laboratories Microbe-Lift Septic and Cesspool Treatment
This cesspool treatment is for 750 – 1,000 gallon cesspool systems. It is to be used for six months. It has a naturally occurring anaerobic bacterium that reduces odors through the bacterial enzymes they produce.

2. BioMat-X
BioMat-X is a treatment product for cesspools and septic systems. It has at least fifteen trillion bacteria in each gallon that helps restore everything back to efficiency level. BioMat-X is known to be cost-effective and concentrated, which makes it very effective in correcting backed up and sluggish cesspools. If you use this product with Oxy-Cal, the solid wastes and contaminants will be degraded aerobically, thereby increasing the availability of oxygen. This accelerates the digestion of proteins, starches, cellulose, grease, oils, and fats in the cesspool or leach fields. BioMat-X is an aggressive and quick digester of bio-mat accumulation. Because it is a combination of bacteria and enzymes, it is an easy and safe method to use in digesting solid wastes.

3. NT-Max Cesspool treatment
NT-Max Cesspool treatments are cesspool treatments and septic tank additives that are designed to digest solid bio-mat waste and build up that can accumulate in cesspool tanks and septic system restricting the leaching process and the digestion of the organic solids in the system. The all natural beneficial bacterial additive is capable of digesting build up and restoring clogged cesspools and drain fields.

4. AeroClear
AeroClear is a treatment system that can be easily installed in cesspools, grease traps, and septic tanks. Its process of aeration involves using blowers to provide more oxygen into your raw sewage. The facultative or aerobic bacteria then take action by digesting the solid wastes that enter the system. It is very effective in the removal of TSS (total suspended solids) and BOD (biological oxygen demand) from the wastewater

5. BioWorld
This treatment breaks down the cleaning products, sludge, papers, oils, solid wastes, fats, and grease. This enables you to pump less often, eliminate odors, restore leach fields, and make your cesspool last longer.

For years, the use of bacterial treatments used to treat cesspools has long been debated. Most of the cesspool treatments in today’s market promise quick and astounding end results. This leaves you with a very confusing set of choices. The real deal about cesspool treatments is to find out what benefits you, your system, and the environment. As you know, there are inorganic, organic, and biological treatments that you could choose from. When you talk about the organic and inorganic, you usually play with chemical compounds that leave adverse effects in the system or the environment. If you are not careful in handling them, you could even suffer from injuries especially in using strong acids and bases.

Among all these, the biological treatments (those that involve enzymes and bacteria) are the most recommended ones to be used in cesspools and septic systems. With biological treatments, you can be sure that no harsh chemicals are used. This also means that the household and the environment are safe from contamination and toxicity. Enzymes are derived from either plants or animals. You may already be familiar with the fact that enzymes are catalysts in the process of digestion. When enzymes are used in the cesspool, the breakdown of solid wastes is accelerated. But enzymes do not produce bacteria. They only stimulate and enhance the digestive activity in the cesspool. When you pertain to the using bacterial treatments in the cesspool, this means that you will get to increase the number of bacteria in there already.

Remember that even if you chance upon what seems to be the best cesspool treatment, you still have to get your tank pumped out and cleaned if you are experiencing difficulty.

How to aerate a lateral line?

Visiting your sister was a tradition that you had imprinted in your life since she moved to another state after high school. She wanted to start a life of her own and she believed that doing it far from where she was born and raised was the best thing to do. She was younger than you but she had more courage in doing the things that she wanted. She had a very firm belief that if you wanted to make something out of your life, you just had to pick up your things and do it even if other people kept on telling you that it would be impossible for you to accomplish anything. Well, apparently in her case, it was true. In just two years, she was able to land a stable job in the magazine business and was already able to start payments on a house. When you visited her that day, she was in the process of having her septic tank lateral line aerated.

Your sister welcomed you with a huge hug and a peck on the cheek. She asked how things were back home and you told her that your parents were out of town on business and asked if you were available for a family vacation the coming month. She just smiled and told you that she had to check with her bosses. There were septic tank and drain field experts working on your sister’s leach field. You asked your sister about it and she said that she just wanted to make sure that her septic systems lateral lines won’t give her trouble in the future. There have been a number of horror stories in her work place that she really didn’t want to experience so it was her mission to make sure that she did everything to make the leach field efficient.

The leach field is the last phase of the wastewater treatment system. It is where the pre-treated effluent undergoes purification that rids it of contaminants and disease-causing microorganisms so that it would be safe to disperse into the surrounding environment. The septic expert suggested that aerating the leach field was needed to make sure that it wouldn’t have any clogs or blockages that could cause septic system failure. Your sister showed you a brochure of how the process went on:

How the Aeration Of A Leach Field Takes Place

1. The sludge in the septic tank is pumped out and subjected to treatment.

2. The ATU (aerobic treatment unit) is installed and then connected to an electrical source.

3. Wastewater from the household is passed into an aeration chamber where oxygen is pumped into it. This process is further enhanced by a rotor to efficiently incorporate oxygen into the wastewater.

4. The effluent is passed into the settling chamber where the undigested solidified materials settle. The solid particles separate from the effluent in this chamber.

5. The resulting clear effluent is returned to the aeration chamber to be purified more before it is returned to the surrounding environment.

Homeowners have always been asked to take care of their leach fields and aeration was definitely one of the most effective methods to do so. But after the ATU installation, your sister was aware of what she should do: maintain the flow of electricity into the ATU; lessen the water load that goes into the septic system; not dumping garbage, grease, and fats into the system; not using toxic or strong cleaning products because they kill off the decomposing bacteria in the system; and making sure that the septic system is frequently used to keep the bacteria digesting or breaking down their needed food.

Having an installed ATU can indeed help your lateral lines because it lengthens the life expectance of the leach field; it is a more efficient wastewater treatment than a conventional septic system; and it lessens the amount of ammonia that is dispersed into the surrounding waters table. But it is more expensive; has mechanical parts that can deteriorate; needs electricity; needs more maintenance; and could possibly discharge more nitrates into the groundwater. But it is a better way of ensuring that your leach field maintains its efficiency. Your sister has once again made a right move. Aerating a leach field can greatly extend the life of a septic system and the lateral lines.

What Causes Cesspools to Fail?

Cesspools are closed unit reservoirs of wastewater under your home. The construction of the system should be followed according to the sanitary guidelines in your area so as to prevent much larger concerns in the future. Since this system does not have an outlet pipe that would help it empty itself from time to time, the homeowners should be the ones who should have it cleaned and emptied out every 3 to 4 years. This is to make sure that the cesspool works efficiently and doesn’t cause any unnecessary backups.

If you are one of those vigilant cesspool owners, then you should know the signs of a failing cesspool system. You know that your cesspool is failing when sewage is already backing up into your house. The smell will be horrid and this is really unacceptable. Another sign is that you already pump more than a few years, which is taxing and not financially practical. Then there is the constant wetness of your cesspool even if it hasn’t rained, your drains are clogged when the ground is very moist or when it is constantly raining, and the drains empty very slowly. This is a red flag considering the toxicity that is contained in your cesspool. If the sewage in your home is not emptied or treated properly, then there is a very high possibility that the surrounding surface waters will be contaminated.

There are a few reasons why cesspools fail:

1. Excessive water use
This is a very obvious cause of a cesspool failure. If the cesspool is overloaded with more water than it could actually handle, the water backs up to the surrounding surfaces of your home such as in your house or yard. It is included in the design that only a specified amount of water should be used. So expect a smelly flooding when your cesspool fails because of this. Excessive water flow may come from additional people in your home who use water or a leaking faucet.

2. Maintenance is poor
As with anything else in this world, poor care and maintenance is a major cause of cesspool failure. It is understood already that when you install a cesspool, regular pumping and checkups should be done. It is advisable that the pumping should be done every one to three years. This also depends on the number of people in your home and the quantity of waste that goes out of your house into the cesspool. If your sink has a garbage disposal unite installed, then the cesspool should be emptied extra frequently. Part of cesspool maintenance is to avoid flushing non-biodegradable and chemical based materials such as sanitary napkins, tampons, diapers, plastics, cigarette butts, and medications among others. These substances kill the bacteria needed in the cesspool to breakdown the wastes/bio-solids/scum. These synthetic materials will also clog the baffles.

3. Poor installation and design
Another cause of cesspool failure is the inadequate design. You have to have the right kind of soil and the right amount of space in the proper design and installation of your cesspool system. The space required depends on the drain field’s condition and the amount of sewage that flows into the system. The soil should be able to handle the flow rate of the waste water so as to avoid problems.

If ever you do encounter any cesspool system problems, report it immediately to your local health department so that you may be guided as to what the real problem is. Making sure that you immediately have the problem fixed will prolong the life of your cesspool system and save you a lot of money if complications and replacements come about.

Yellow grass over drain field?

You have always been a hands-on parent and every time your family enters the discussion, nothing else seemed to matter. When you all moved into you’re newly bought home, it was your priority to make sure that every component was running smoothly—from the smallest blade of grass to the home air conditioning unit. This was not an easy job to do. This needed attention and time, which you didn’t always have. Nevertheless, you did it and there you were.

The biggest source of pride in your property is your lawn. From the moment you moved in, you have always noticed how green the grass was and how colorful the plants were. It was indeed a perfect yard to have parties and maybe even a pool someday. You will do absolutely everything just to make sure that you and your family are well-taken care of in every aspect, especially when you are all in your home together. Since you have a yard, you absolutely encourage your children to play there with your dogs. They have already gotten used to the idea after a few weeks. One weekend, you decided to join them and just lounge around in your yard and forget about surfing the Internet all day or just staying in the living room watching DVD reruns. As you sat there, your legs outstretched while sipping your iced tea, you noticed something out of context. At first, you thought that it was just the glare from the sun but when you approached it, you just couldn’t believe it. There was yellow grass over your drain field.

There was a gardener that came to your place every other day to tend the garden and the entire yard so you called him and asked him if he could drop by your house. He agreed and when he arrived, you showed him your concern. He said that he never neglected watering the entire lawn. He even sprayed fertilizer and eco-friendly pesticides to care for each blade of grass. The gardener told you that it would be better to ask the septic professional that could further explain to you what really happened to your patch of yellow grass. So you immediately called the septic expert and in just a few minutes, he arrived beaming at you.

He was calm in saying that your lawn grass was absolutely perfect. He reminded you that the yellow patch of grass was planted over the drain field of your septic system. The yellow coloration was actually a good thing. The dryness of the soil on top of your drain field was a sign that your septic system was in good shape. It was doing its job properly and was experiencing no problems at all. When the top soil is wet and soggy, it would be a sign that your septic system is failing. The yellow grass, although not easy on the eyes, is indicative of an efficient septic system. The septic experts told you not to water the yellow grass or add more soil to the top soil. Watering the yellow grass will make it difficult for the drain field to absorb the wastewater. This would make the wastewater back up onto your yard and into your home. Additional soil will make it difficult for the effluent to evaporate, leaving the soil wet and soggy. This will make the oxygen level f the soil lower. As you know the aerobic bacteria work in your drain field. No oxygen, no bacteria, no purification.

When both men left, you returned to you spot in the yard and enjoyed the rest of your day. As you took a bit of your brownie, you realized that you’d make sure that the yellow grass is kept yellow at all times from then on. In all your years, you never thought that dead, yellow grass would be the best thing that would ever happen to you and to your family.

What causes sewer odors in my home?

Waking up to septic system odors would resemble a nightmare. It is not a normal thing for you to be breathing in hazardous sewer odors straight from your very own sewer system. You know that there has to be something wrong already and that something has to be done about this.

Sewer odors are not very welcoming especially when you have parties or sudden guests. It is something that your entire household tends to suffer from—health-wise—most especially. You may wonder why the sewer odors waft through your house just like that. Well, this could very well be a warning sign that your septic system needs attention already. Anytime there are sewer odors in a home, immediate action should follow.

One of the causes of septic odors is the backing up of the wastewater into your yard or sinks and drains of the home. This is caused by the clogging of the drain field and too much accumulation of sludge buildup in the septic tank. The clogging of the drain field is caused by this gunk that you were not able to pump out of your septic tank on its normal schedule. The solid wastes material makes its way out to the drain field and hinders its ability to absorb the effluent that should be treated at its final stage in the soil.

Next is the clogging up of the pipes. This happens when you irresponsibly dump all sorts of chemicals and bits of solid waste into the drains or the toilet. This causes the backing up of the wastewater into your shower floor or sink. This even makes your toilet overflow when you flush it. Disgusting, isn’t it? If you are this unmindful of your septic system usage, then sewage odors will be part of your life forever.

When you dump chemicals such as detergents into your sink or drains, the sodium in them reacts with the clay in the drain field. This makes a hardened compound that clogs the drain field. As a result, the wastewater will back up into your yard or home, giving you your daily dose of sewer odors.

Another thing is the vent installation in your home. There are actually houses that did not have any septic vent installed. As a result, the gas pressure becomes too high that it already seeps through various areas of your home to be relieved. There are times when the contractors block an existing septic system vent to make a wall for a new room in the house. This will cause that room to be the source of sewer odors in your home.

The plumbing system in your house may also be a direct cause of the sewer odors that you have. There should be traps in the pipes that are installed in your sinks. These traps are literally traps for the odors that accumulate or come from the septic tank. These are important so that the hazardous, irritating odors will not enter your bathroom or kitchen areas. There are two types of common traps—the P trap and the S trap. You could consult with your plumber to change the pipes in your house if this is what causes the sewer odors that you have.

When the pipes have high pressure and they have no place to vent out of, the sewer gas will be forced straight out of the traps. There will most probably be bubbling and gurgling sounds with the sewer odors. If the pipes have low pressure and they cannot vent anywhere else, siphoning can happen in the pipe traps whenever you drain. When the traps are also dry, this can be a pathway for the sewer gas to enter your house.

You should also consider having all of your pipes and traps properly sealed because any leaks could be portals for sewer odors. Ask your handy plumber to help you check them regularly and apply a long-lasting water-proof sealant on them. Sewer odors in your home can be eliminated with periodic inspections.

The power of septic field enzymes

Your septic system is a miniature wastewater treatment plant that aims to help in converting the wastes of your household to usable water in the surrounding environment. As a homeowner, part of your responsibility is to make sure that your septic system works efficiently. Never use anti-bacterial products and never dump chemicals into your drains. This results to a beneficial bacteria deprived inefficient septic system that gives you headaches.

For years, septic system enzyme additives have been known to be effective in helping septic systems function better. Controversy has surrounded this concept and the effects of septic system enzyme additives in the industry. Enzyme septic system additives are still successfully used to stimulate and enhance the scum breakup, bio-mat solid digestion, the breakdown of sediments in septic systems and soil absorption rejuvenation.

Septic system enzyme additives are classified into chemical and biological. Chemical additives are the organic and the inorganic compounds and the biological additives are the enzymes, bacteria, and yeasts that you add into your septic system. As of now, there are about 1,200 varieties of additives that are being manufactured and sold by various companies. When purchasing a septic system enzyme additive, ensure that you are dealing with a reputable company.

Biological additives are beneficial to septic systems because they can reduce the solids, grease and the oil that is present in the septic tank and also lessen the amount of solids in the effluent. But when the scum is liquefied, this gives the solidified wastes the chance to be absorbed by the surrounding soil. This also brings about the formation of methane, which is a toxic and flammable septic system gas.

There are chemical additives such as sulfuric acid, hydrogen peroxide, alum, baking soda, and formaldehyde that are known to remove the clogs and restore the smooth flow of the septic system. But there were reports that implicate hydrogen peroxide in destroying the enzyme and bacterial structure of the surrounding soil. Sulfuric acid is a very corrosive acid that is known to burn skin when inappropriately handled. Those additives that control odors such as zinc sulfate, quarternary ammonium, paraformaldehyde, and formaldehyde are said to be biodegradable when diluted but biocidal when used purely on their own at maximum strength.

However, there are organic bacterial and enzyme additives that have been conscientiously reformulated so as to be safe and healthy for you and for the environment and also effective in the treatment of septic systems.

Septic system enzyme additives really have the power to either help the septic system or harm it. It could either aid you in ensuring that the septic system remains efficient or potentially harmful to humans when improperly used. That is how powerful septic system enzyme additives are. Because of this, many homeowners are asking how important are septic system additives and is it important to use additives in their septic system to ensure a health septic system. It is said that just by normal septic use a septic system will activate the natural bacterial decomposition process. This is a very natural and safe way for you to maintain your septic system.

The problem occurs when anti-bacterial additives are added to the septic environment through hand soaps and dish washing liquids. These additives kill of the healthy beneficial bacteria found in the septic environment reducing the digestion process. Beneficial bacteria and enzyme additives are required to keep a septic system operating at a level of peak performance.

It is always a good idea to consult with septic system professionals who know how to deal with septic system maintenance without harming the operation o the system. Make sure that you also consult your local environmental department on regulations and the effects of systems that are not well maintained. It is better to really see the bigger picture if you are considering the use of enzyme additives in maintaining your septic system. So check everything out and think twice before using enzyme additives.

Help with a Saturated Septic System

Because of what may seem to be a very hectic lifestyle, you often neglect maintaining your septic system. When this happens, it is only expected that your septic system will become saturated. This can be a real headache especially if your septic tanks design or local building code doesn’t allow you to repair the damage that the saturation has made. Getting the saturation fixed depends on the actual design and installation of your septic system. If the drain field is too overly clogged up already, then it might just be too late for any repairs to be performed on your system.

If you’re septic system can still be repaired, there are certain techniques that have allowed many people to avoid total replacement. This will usually cost the homeowner between $5,000 to $40,000 USD, which will really burn a large hole in any homeowner’s pocket. When the septic system becomes saturated, it is not the septic tank that goes wrong but the drain field. It is already clogged up with so much of the solid wastes that it doesn’t allow the liquid to seep through. The following are only some of the helpful techniques that can be done to fix your saturated septic system:

1. NT-MAX Septic Treatment
This is a all natural septic tank shock treatment product that is helpful in breaking the bonds between clay and sodium that forms when the household cleaning products accumulate in the drain field. It also loosens up the grease that adds to its clogged up condition. This is the most inexpensive method of fixing your saturated septic system.

2. Terralifting
This process works by inserting a tube into the soil. Then, 300 lbs or air is blasted through hollow tube, directly into the soil, thus creating fissures that allow drainage. The small fissures create an oxygenated environment for the aerobic bacteria to once again increase in population. Aerobic bacteria breakdown waste much faster than the anaerobic ones. In just hours, your septic system could be fixed this way without any damage or invasion in your yard.

3. Washing machine filter
As you know, most clothes are made up of non-biodegradable fibers like nylon and polyester. These leave lint in the washing machine and this clod up the drain field. Using an efficient washing machine filter will help you filter out the lint from going down the drain. If you collect the lint separately and dispose of it in the trash bin, then the septic tank will not be clogged up. You should definitely make use of washing machine filters because once the lint gets in the drain field, it cannot be removed anymore.

4. Watch the water usage
You should also watch your water consumption if you want to help ease the saturation of your septic system. Every system has a design that could only hold a specific amount of water. If you use water more than you should, then you will delay the draining time of the drain field, it can flood your home or yard because of the backing up due to the clog, and even stir up the sediments that have already settled at the bottom of the tank. Try dividing the usage of water in the household so that the septic system will not be so taxed.

You could also make sure that there are no solid wastes that enter the drain field. This could be done by regularly having your septic tank pumped out every one to three years. This way, you can be assured that there will be no buildup of particles to further clog the line and drainage areas. Also be mindful of the type of household cleaning products that you use. Most of them usually have sodium that combine with the clay in the drain field and this clogs it up even more.