Septic tank maintenance

June, 2012:

Costs to Replace a Sand Mound

Sometimes you just can’t help it. Trouble brews in paradise. There are days when you think you have it all together. Then suddenly, out of the blue, your dog comes in, smelly and wet from walking on the yard. Your daughter comes to you complaining about the gross dark water coming from the toilet, sinks, and drains. The house suddenly smells like sewer. When those days come to your life, you have no choice but to pick up the phone and call your septic expert. You and your local septic professional can better discuss sand mound repair cost and the possibility of replacing the sand mound.

Years back, you had been surprised by the fact that you actually had a sand mound system. You were surprised because of the soil’s poor percolation rate and high water table. It wasn’t a system that you were prepared for but it certainly worked. You just had to give several explanations to your daughter every time she asked you why you’re septic were above the ground cluttering up the yard.

Sand mound repair costs were never part of the budget. Your daughter just started school and your cat just had her first litter. When your septic expert arrived, he made a thorough inspection of the property and said that there were some minor sand mound repairs that had to be done. Sand mound malfunction could be caused by a lot of things –

Grease and non-biodegradable materials that cannot be broken down by resident bacteria. Corrosive chemicals and antibacterial solutions that kill bacteria and destroy the structural parts of the system. Hardwood plants over and around the sand mound. Not pumping the tank regularly. Too much water load from the dishwasher and the washing machine. High water load brought in by heavy rains because the rain gutter drains it over the sand mound. Vehicles and structures over the sand mound that cause soil compaction. This crushes the sand mound components. Deteriorated construction fabric, resulted to the sand mound’s freezing over during winter. You were guilty of using many of the products known to disrupt the natural bacterial count. You just didn’t have the time to think about your sand mound and the potential cost associated with sand mound repairs. Your septic expert gave you the sand mound repair costs list wherein estimations of some of the required repairs are indicated –

shut-off valve installations –  between 25  and  50 USD
drain field repairs –  between 1,200  and  2,500 USD
extra sand mound system –  between 8,000  and 15,000 USD
replacement of main waste pipe –  between 25  and  75 USD
replacement with copper supply pipes –  between 10  and  15 USD
sand mound tank replacement –  between 1,800  and  2,500 USD
supply piping insulations –  between 1  and  3 USD
replacement – outside hose bib –  –  between 75  and  150 USD
replacement  – supply pipes –  –  between 5  and  10 USD
repairs  – trap or drain –  –  between 75  and  200 USD
pvc replacement of waste pipes –  between 5  and  10 USD
waste pipe replacement  – cast iron –  –  between 10  and  15 USD
repairs  – ordinary leaks –  –  between 75  and  125 USD

The sand mound system is just like any other septic system. It just had to be maintained and cared for with a bit more attention. It can easily incur damage because it’s essentially exposed to the elements and to the rest of the household. If you have pets, they might be attracted by the smells and try to dig out what’s under the sand mound. It’s advisable to have it securely fenced in to make sure that your pets stay away from it.

Pumping out your sand mound is essential. It is the only staple maintenance that you have to do to keep the system flowing. To have a regular schedule for pumping out your system, you have to let the septic expert know about the living situation in your home. In your case, since it’s only and your daughter, you have to pump out your sand mound system every three years. Pumping out a septic system regularly can reduce sand mound repair costs and extent the natural life of your septic system.

Septic system restoration products

There may have been one dreaded episode in your life as a homeowner wherein you have decided to inspect your septic system drain field and discover that the tank is full and practically at exploding point with wastewater. Maybe you became so alarmed that you immediately called the experts to have them assess and inspect what could be possibly done to remedy what just happened to your septic system.

After five meetings with five different septic professionals, you were just upset and disgusted with the prospect of having to replace the septic system and drain field. This thought just flashed roughly a total of $23,000.00 in your head for the replacement. This included the removal of the tree over your drain field, demolition of the partial driveway over your drain field, and the restoration of your landscape after a new septic system and drain field was to be installed. This can be classified as a financial nightmare even for a homeowner such as yourself. Most do spend even more than this much money when it comes to their septic system mainly because they were not well oriented with the proper care of their septic system. Some of them may have been told that their system didn’t need any maintenance at all. There may have been practices of just placing yeast or dead chickens in the septic tank to increase beneficial bacterial count so that the entire septic system will last for the longest time.

As you know, the septic system typically is comprised of both a biological and a mechanical system. Biological septic systems can easily be affected by the overloaded by a lack of maintenance, the usage of various chemicals such as anti-bacterial soaps, bleach, paint, and dumping of non-biodegradable wastes such as cigarette butts and diapers can also reduce the effectiveness of a septic systems ability to digest solid waste generated by a home. The mechanical aspect of a septic system is comprised of the materials such as PVC, asphaltic pipe, concrete, cast iron, and fired clay.

You should be very aware that septic systems and drain field problems and what could happen at the least expected moment. Most of the time, a failed septic system could result in personal and financial strains. Septic system and drain field restoration experts that you call for help may not even have an idea of what your septic system really needs but they will still try and sell their services to you. To prevent a large hole in your pocket, why not search online for the septic restoration products that are very effective in getting back your septic system into the groove. These products help you restore your septic system without having to excavate your yard or replace it. One of them is by Aero Stream that involves aeration or aerobic bio-remediation. Septic system restoration digests the bio-mat converting it into water and carbon dioxide. This results to the clearing of the restoration of the septic system and a rejuvenated drain field. It is filled with even more aerobic bacteria that eat whatever bio-mat is left. Compared to the total replacement of your system, beneficial bacteria used as a restoration is about ninety three percent cheaper compared to the cost of replacing a septic system.

There are myriads of septic restoration products on the market today, take a few minutes to research them out. This way, you can be sure that your septic system will be up and about in time without you, spending money that is supposed to be for your child’s education or the family’s medical insurance.

Sand mound not draining properly?

Deciding which type of septic system led you and your to partner to months of debate and deliberation. Finally, both of you have decided to go with the sand mound system. Sand mound systems are said to be a fuss-free and easy to maintain system. So, since both of you are busy with work and house chores, you wanted that sand mound to take care of your household wastes water. It is a bit off in combination with your landscaping design but you might as well stick with it to take advantage of its convenience.

When you studied about the features of the sand mound system, you found out that it has six components: septic tank with outlet baffle filter; pump tank with alarm system, controls, and pump; sand filter; pump from the sand filter to the mound; the mound; and the reserve area. But even if you already have become well-versed with each of them, you were not able to fulfill your duty in making sure that your raised mound system is kept running good. As a result, there came a point when your sand mound didn’t drain properly anymore.

First, a look at the final components like the sand filter would be a nice start. This is the watertight layer that is made up of plastic or concrete that contains a filler of sand and gravel. This gravel layer supports the perforated pipes where the wastewater flows slowly onto the sand. The effluent is treated once it is exposed to air. The purified effluent then goes farther down onto the under drain. Here, the effluent goes to the mound where its final treatment is made before it is disposed into the surrounding soil. In the mound, a material for sand fill is present on top of the surface of the soil. This is where the treated effluent is pumped and distributed uniformly throughout the surrounding soil. This is to finalize the purification treatment of the effluent before it mixes with the groundwater.

The sand mound doesn’t drain properly because of the problem that starts in the most obvious place—the tank. If the bacterial population in this area is not enough to digest the solid waste materials that go in, gunk and sludge will form and this will flow into through the filters of the raised mound. Another reason is excessive water use in the household that retards the bacterial decomposition and carries the solid wastes right up to the filters. Leaks and damage to pipes somewhere in the raised mound system is another point to consider. If unnecessary substances go into the pipes, the filtering and absorption processes will not go very well. In case the mound fails because of severs clogging, you could replace it immediately. That is what the reserve area is for. It is a place designated to become a new mound installation. You should take good care of the reserve area by refraining from any excavation, grading, paving, compaction or construction in that particular area. If the reserve area is gone, then the possibility of having a new mound for your household is diminished.

It is a big problem when the sand mound does not drain properly. If the draining problem is superficial, which is only caused by a clog in the drain somewhere in the house, and then it is good for you. You will save time and money in fixing what might have been a very large problem in your mound system. However, if it truly is within the depths of the sand mound, you have to make changes when the correction has been made.

One such change is to make sure that you conserve water to ensure the best performance of the digesters in the tank. Next is to eliminate all anti-bacterial soaps and solutions or refrain from dumping them into the drain to keep the bacterial population stable. Bacterial enzymes can be added in to your system as recommended by your septic professional. Also avoid placing solid wastes like napkins, diapers, cigarette butts, and soap goo into your drains to make sure that the flow is smooth and that no clogging will ensue.

Leach bed chemicals

Since the boom of the “green” campaign, everything just seemed to veer into the environment-friendly methods and products that use all natural ingredients or materials especially in septic tank leach bed treatments. These aim to significantly lessen the damage to the environment brought about by centuries of careless utilization and destruction of natural resources. Years have already passed and significant developments in transportation, health, beauty, and various industries have been made. There are already environment-friendly materials and ingredients that deliver the same wanted effects that bring less destruction to the surroundings and to your health as well.

One such development happened to the septic industry. It really made a huge difference for an industry based on wastewater to have treatments and additives that bring less harm to the environment and to your health. These days, leach bed chemicals that are organic and inorganic are no longer given that much attention when it comes to the maintenance and care of the septic system. Septic professionals are now more into biological additives and treatments than the usual inorganic and organic ones. Biological leach bed additives and treatments make use of bacteria in improving the performance of the residing bacteria in the septic system. As a result, the solid wastes in the wastewater are broken down much faster.

But it seems that the old habit of using conventional leach bed chemicals is very hard to break. For decades, you have been using inorganic chemicals in cleaning and treating your septic system. You have been a septic professional for years and you didn’t have any problems in using them. The lake beside you house didn’t exhibit any symptoms of being polluted at all. There have been several advertisements that emphasized the use of biological additives as a much safer option for your health and the environment. Although you didn’t see anything wrong with the leach bed chemicals that you used but you thought that it would be much better to use the biological additives. It was a decision that you made just in time because the lake didn’t give you as much fish as before. There were even plants surrounding the lake that already started to disappear. The lake was starting to be affected by the leach bed chemicals that you used.

When it was your leach bed’s schedules treatment, you opted to use the biological additives this time. You studied about the benefits of the non-pathogenic bacteria in the maintenance of the leach field and after administering the treatment, the results were far better. It was even more efficient that the usual leach bed chemicals that you used. It was even much safer for you to handle.

The biological leach bed additives that you used improved the decomposition process in the septic tank and in the leach field as well. In the septic tank, the existing bacteria are reinforced by the additional bacteria. It was like adding more soldiers to the existing war against the solid wastes that enter the septic system. More bacterial soldiers on your side meant that you would be able to purify the wastewater that enters it much faster. This would mean that the effluent would be returned to the surrounding environment in the best, most natural condition that it should have.

After years of using biological additives instead of leach field chemicals, you were able to improve the environmental conditions in the lake. There seemed to be more fishes and much greener banks. Your drains, sinks, and toilets seemed to work much better. It was indeed much better to use the biological additives in treating your leach bed.

You relaxed on your porch after you administered the treatment. It was a proper reward after working on your leach field. When you dozed off, your family arrived from their week’s mother-daughter retreat in another state. You were relieved and happy to finally see them but there was more relief in the thought that you and your family’s health will remain safe for years to come because of your biological treatments.

Natural raised mound cleaners

With your hands on your waist, you sweep a lingering gaze at your newly constructed lawn. It was just perfect. It mixed well with the raised mound that you had installed. At first, it wasn’t easy to accept the fact that your raised mound septic system was to be above the surface for everyone to see. It was a bit weird to explain to those who would ask what that mound was but thanks to your skilled landscape architect, you will no longer have that lengthy, awkward conversation with guests and neighbors.

Your children didn’t quite like the idea of having a raised mound septic system. It graphically grossed them out to be looking at a raised sand mound septic system in the back yard. But because the landscaping design subtly concealed the mound, they were convinced that the lawn was still a great place to hang out especially with the gazebo feature. The following week, you will be having a birthday barbeque for your youngest son. You told yourself that you had to make sure everything will be the very best that day, especially for your raised mound system. There should be no room for septic smells or raw sewage odors during the party. And you knew that you were going to be a big part of that. As the one who always coordinated with the septic professional in your area, you were the only one who knew a great deal about the care and maintenance of your raised mound. A huge part of this was to make sure that the raised mound was cleaned on schedule.

You were aware that there are existing manufacturers that manipulate homeowners like you into buying cheap raised mound cleaning products that promise you a cancellation of your pumping responsibilities. They tell consumers that when their products are used, backups will no longer be in existence. They promise you that you will have more money for your needs than for the repair or replacement of your raised mound. These were just formulated propagandas to make you purchase the said promising products. If you do try them, all they would result to would be system and environmental chaos. As the homeowner, you still have to stick to the cleaning and pumping out schedule of your raised mound. The sludge accumulates as wastewater continually fills your tank. Your septic professional told you that if you learned to manage your sludge, bacteria, and tank, you would never have a problem with your raised mound. Everything would follow once you do it right at the start.

During pumping out and cleaning, you have established the idea that your raised mound system and the environment would be better off with natural cleaners. This would help you maintain the bacterial population and help conserve the surrounding waters as well. Natural raised mound septic system cleaners concentrate on using non-pathogenic bacteria to increase the efficiency of the already existing bacteria in the tank. It is like having the cavalry arrive to help gain control against the enemies. The solid waste materials would then be degraded a lot faster, making the effluent get dispersed into the sand filter much faster. The bacteria present in the soil absorption system would then do their job of purifying the effluent much better, getting rid of the pathogens that’s detrimental to your household and the surrounding environment.

As the septic professional cleared your raised mound as pumped out and cleaned on schedule using the natural raised mound cleaners, you gave yourself a pat on the back. You were already sure that your son’s barbeque party will be filled with a cloud of delicious barbeque aroma and not septic smells. That afternoon, you and your wife decided to give the yard a test run before the actual party. Your wife made burger patties and marinated vegetables and fruits for a barbeque dinner. When she went out, she gave you your grill master apron as you took over. The kids and your faithful golden retriever sat in anticipation while they entertained themselves with a PS3 game. It will definitely be a barbeque party to remember.

Dead grass over drain field

Walking along your neighborhood is something that you do during your spare time. You even take your dachshund with you so that both of you would get fit.  That weekend, as you went on with your regular route, you noticed the yard of your neighbors. Most of them looked deep green, like the rain has just finished showering them. You looked up and just saw a clear blue sky with white clouds floating by. The sun was also shining brightly that day so you know that it didn’t rain. And besides, you always had a stomach ache whenever it was about to rain. You didn’t, so, it must’ve stayed this way all morning. The air was absolutely clear of the damp soil smell. Why were most of the yards that wet?

Your mind was still boggled by your neighbors’ yards. When you went to your yard after your shower, you decided to bring out your coffee and buttered toast as well. You stayed in the corner where the large maple tree towered over your lounge chair. Your dachshund played in the yard with his new toy while you enjoyed your breakfast and morning paper. When your dog barked, you looked up and saw him sniffing the dead grass on your yard. Your eyes widened. Why did you have dead grass on your yard? You always had them watered and fertilized. Then it hit you. The dead grass was directly on your drain field. This wasn’t explained by your septic expert yet. You were nervous about it because the grass might be dying because of the toxicity of the wastewater. Immediately, you dialed your septic professional’s number.

Why would the grass die on top of your drain field? The septic system collects wastewater from your household and collects it in the septic tank. Here, the solid wastes are degraded by the anaerobic bacteria so that the effluent may be rid of these as they get absorbed in the drain field.  The drain field is the final area where the wastewater will be treated. This is where the pre-treated effluent will be purified and be rid of the pathogens and contaminants before it is distributed into the surrounding environment. This task is performed by the aerobic bacteria. This second type of bacteria in your septic system needs oxygen to proliferate and function well.

The top of the drain field should only have a thin layer of soil so that the effluent will be able to evaporate easily as the sun hits the soil. When the topsoil is dry, there is more oxygen for the aerobic bacteria. This also means that the drain field is absorbing the effluent well and that there are no clogs in the system. If you see soggy grass over your drain field, this is a warning sign because this means that the drain field is not absorbing the effluent anymore. This results to wastewater back up into your home and onto your yard.

When you have dead grass over your drain field, you should not water the dead grass, hoping to revive it. Neither should you add more topsoil to retain more water for the grass. Watering the grass over the drain field will make it hard for the drain field to absorb the outgoing effluent, resulting to wastewater backup. The added soil will indeed retain more water, and therefore lessen the amount of oxygen in the soil for the aerobic bacteria. If you really want to maintain your drain field, just let the dead grass be dead. This would be a very organic sign for you to know if your septic system is still functioning ideally or not.

You should give your dachshund a treat for making you look at the dead grass on your drain field. From that day on, you won’t be boggled by the soggy grass that your neighbors’ yards. You already know which household is really responsible in taking good care of their septic systems. And yours is one of the role models.

Sand Mound Preventative Maintenance

For households that have a sand mound as their septic system, one should be aware that it needs to be cared for and maintained just like any other type of septic system out there. It is part of your home and it is responsible for the proper disposal of the wastes that you have every single day. The systems are usually stable and proficient but there is a fine balance that must exist between the bacteria life within the system and what fuels you feed the system daily.

If you do your part in the preventive maintenance of your sand mound, you can be sure that your will have a smooth operating system for years to come. Since sand mounds are finicky at times and are relatively expensive compared to common
drain field type systems, it is vital for you to have your sand mound inspected regularly to determine if and what might be needed to enhance system performance. Regular inspections will assist in detecting problems immediately before they even have the chance to really harm the system.

The sand mound system is complex and very prone to inadvertent abuse from its owner. When something goes wrong with the mound system, it will be very expensive to repair and many people are generally not prepared for the financial hit that a septic system can create. Six months after it is installed, the sand mound should be re-monitored and double checked to assure that proper settling has occurred and that there are no leaks or misalignments. The monitoring continues again after six months and then every year thereafter. Here are the particular points that should be considered when you perform preventive maintenance on your sand mound system.

1. Sludge inspection

Sludge inspection should be done on an annual basis. Gunk and sludge accumulate gradually. As they do, ample room for the wastewater becomes smaller and smaller. This allows the wastewater to pass through the tank at a much faster rate, which gives the bacteria not enough time to digest the solid wastes before they leave the tank. The tank lowers in its efficiency to protect the sand filter from blockages and contaminants.

2. Pump the tank

Watch the level of sludge in the tank. If it reaches a foot deep, the tank should already be pumped. This can be a very dirty job to do but you have to do it to make sure that your tank is in tip-top condition. If you are squeamish about it, you could just have the professionals do it for you. You should know the exact location of your pump tank and septic tank for easier maintenance.

3. Include pump tank

When you have the septic tank pumped, include its compartments and the pump tank as well. A report should be given after the pumping processes.

4. Tank baffles

Tank baffles are the ones that separate the solid from the liquid wastes. These devices make sure that the solids are able to settle at the bottom for digestion. They just permit clarified effluent to enter the sand filter. Make sure that you always check the filter baffles because if these clog up, there will be a backing up of wastewater and the drains will go slow. They should be checked and cleaned up on an annual basis. You can do this on your own. Just make sure that no one uses the water inside the household as you clean the filter baffles. Ding this regularly will make sure that sludge and scum do not get to the sand filter layer.

5. Pump tank and controls

Between the tank and the sand filter of your sand mound is a pump that delivers the effluent. From the sand filter to the mound, another pump makes this happen for the effluent to be distributed to the surrounding soil. There are also control floats that regulate the amount of effluent that enters the sand filter. These components should also be maintained to ensure the proper conveying of effluent to the sand filter and mound.

6. Considerations

To make the job easier for your sand mound and to prevent any untoward malfunctions, consider making a compost out of the food scraps that you have instead of using the garbage disposal unit. This lessens the solid wastes that enter your tank. Divide your laundry tasks to prevent water overload into your sand mound system.

The sand mound is basically a leach field that is elevated due to whatever conditions lead to the requirement for such a system. Remember that all septic systems need to be looked at regularly and inspected at least once each year. If you do not use a regular maintenance additive then you most certainly will need frequent pump-outs to assure that the tank sludge never escapes out to the pump station that feeds your mound.

Let a septic remediation professional guide you through more of the needed information about your sand mound’s preventive maintenance. This will enable you to have a better and clearer grasp of your responsibilities as a sand mound owner.

Are the toilets backing up from your septic system?

Are the toilets in your home backing up? This would probably be the most disgusting and the most awful thing that you could ever experience from your own septic system. There is nothing more terrible than just doing your business in the toilet and then having it back up again when you flush. You can never forget that and you would probably be upset for an entire month or until everything is all right. One toilet is enough but when the other toilet in your house back up all t the same time, it can pretty much be classified as a dire emergency.

Your septic system is something to be regarded as a living organism. Just like you, when it is not taken care of, it gets sick. And when your toilets back up, it is a symptom that something should pay attention to. Your toilets are backing up because you may have blockages in your indoor drains and pipes or your septic system might be failing. What should you do then if you suspect that you have a septic crisis? Read the following:

1. If your toilet is backing up all of a sudden, you should check all the drains as well. Do this by running water down each drain. If the water is not running down or is running down slow, it is possible that you have a clog or a blockage. When you discover that all your drains have the same issue, then your septic tank is really backed up.

2. Go to the toilet in the basement or on the first floor of your house. If they back up as well. It is a sign that your system is backed up and worse, your septic system is really failing.

3. Make a visual inspection of your septic system but don’t just look at what is superficial. Check the pipelines, d-box, and drain field. Upon inspection of your drain field, try to look for wet, squishy, and black water areas that have a very foul smell.

4. Get a plumbing snake and run it down your toilet or drain to check for clogs. Solid wastes, a broken pipeline, or damage by tree roots may cause this. If the snake gets t clear the line, then your septic tank is definitely not backed up.

5. You could hire a septic professional to lift the lid of your septic tank and measure the height or thickness of the sludge or scum that has accumulated. It the measurement from the bottom of the tank yields less than a foot to a foot, you have to pump out your septic tank. Some septic tank covers do not have a riser. If your septic tank cover is like this, then just have one installed so that your tank will be easier to access next time.

Remember that water always gets its way. Your tank may already be overflowing or full and obviously, this doesn’t permit the wastewater to get in anymore. That’s why your toilets back up. Have you septic tank empties and pumped out. You should’ve done this on regular basis (every 3 or 4 years). You could also have the solidified soaps residues removed if you use the powdered kind. It is more ideal to use liquid detergents.

Another reason why your toilet is backing up is that your drain field might be failing. This is caused by the heavy sludge accumulation in your septic tank that has not been pumped out regularly. The sludge has been stirred up and dispersed into the drain field that caused it to be blocked and fail. If this is the case, you should seek the help of your septic professional and have your septic system assessed. If the drain field can still be saved, then you will have less expense. But if you’re septic system needs to be replaced, then you have to be ready for a large amount to be spent.