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Septic Systems 101-Beginner Here.
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S.H.    Posted 07-31-2002 at 16:10:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hi, We are moving into a house with our first ever septic system. We'd like to know all the "do's -n- don'ts" -- heard that you don't want to use antibacterial soaps & detergents, but what about using bleach to clean? We also heard to keep as much hair from going down the drain as we can. What else?? Should we use that "Rid-X" once a month? Much appreciate it.-SH

Tom A    Posted 08-01-2002 at 03:19:08       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Be reasonable. No big amounts of bleach, but normal household use is ok. Fact of the matter is that very little microbial breakdown occurs in the septic tank itself, but rather it is almost all in the drainfield...the tank is all anaerobic, which is limited in its ability to break down solids. I don't use the 'additives' as research I've seen has shown pretty clearly that they are ineffective at best, and damaging at worst.

Water softeners do tend to ruin drainfields fairly quick, so I'd give a second thought to using one...I disconnected the one in my house after moving in. The previous owner ruined the drainfield in 18 months with it and it cost him a fortune to re-do they system.

Don't be a water hog, but you don't have to worry about every toilet flush either. A septic system just isn't all that sensitive...most of this is common sense.

The most important maintenance item is 'regular' pumping out of the tank. There is a chart on- line somewhere (if you search for septic system), developed by NY state, recommending how often to pump out a tank based on size of tank and number of folks using the system and it runs from about every 18 months to about 5 or 6 years for a big system with just 1 or 2 users. Most professionals recommend every 3-4 years as a rule of thumb. What you want is all the solids out, as that is what eventually flows out and 'kills' the drainfield. Make sure they 'stir up' the sludge as they pump so they don't just suck the liquid but rather the solid stuff. If you don't know for sure when it was last pumped, it is probably worth the cost of having it done now just for piece of mind.

Don't plant trees near your tank or in your drainfield.

Good luck,

ger    Posted 07-31-2002 at 21:34:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
the other thing i was told was to use white toilet paper not colored an again no bleach hope this helps later ger

PumpBiz Charlie    Posted 07-31-2002 at 19:41:59       [Reply]  [Send Email]
A lot of people with septic do not want to send their washing machine and laundry tub water into the septic. They buy our laundry tub / grey water pump system. This nice small package is completely self contained, ready for your plug and play enjoyment.

They include pump, tank, float switch, fittings.

Glen SW wi    Posted 07-31-2002 at 19:31:55       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Septic tanks aren't too delicate other than throwing an antibacterial substance down the drain. Have never used any special tp. and have had no problems. Your probably talking about a 1000+ tank that would take a lifetime to fill up with cigs.. The filters are the only part that is not biodegradable. Have seen systems that haven't been pumped for years and still worked fine. The tree huggers and the DNR and the pumpers are the ones that require the tanks to be pumped every three years. A lot depends on how many people are feeding the tank.

Don't be afraid of your septic. Just pump it when needed and forget the addatives until you have it pumped. No need for a monthly addative.

Dennis    Posted 07-31-2002 at 19:20:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
Don't let the water run as you are shaving, brushing your teeth, doing dishes, getting cold water in the summer(Keep a Bottle in the frig) etc. try to limit flushing. If possible have the Clothes washer or dish washer outflow line separate from the septic system altogether

Get special toilet paper and don't, don't throw T****X in the toilet or cig butts either.

Good luck

Ludwig    Posted 08-01-2002 at 07:44:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well heck thats alot of work...
Don't use special toilet paper, its just more expensive, and I think it smells funny.
Don't worry about WATER going in, as long as your leech field works right, after all thats what its there for.
Clothes washing water, well Dennis is right there you can run that into a drywell and you'll have the nicest grass growing right around it that you've ever seen.

I also wouldn't worry about bleach too much, of course it all depends on how big your tank is, but the amount of bleach you're going to put in is miniscule to the total of the tank, and bleach is light so it should float off into the leech field where again its so minimal it shouldn't matter.
A properly sized tank shouldn't have to be pumped for a LONG time. That said very few tanks are big enough. My parents is sized so with 2 people in the house it needs pumping ever 2 years.
A friend of mine sold his house a couple years ago, they hadn't had the tank pumped in 20 years and had it pumped to pass inspection, the pumper said it was just the right time as the solids had built up to the point that they'd start having troubles soon if they hadn't pumped.

So heres how a septic tank works, theres a big watertight tank that all the "stuff" goes into. The solids settle and the bacteria start eating them. The stuff the bacteria gives of as waste part gas and part is lighter than water and floats . That and the water go out a pipe fairly high in the tank into the leech field which is basicly a perf pipe in your lawn. You can probably tell where it is because the grass is better, or if it isn't set up right, theres puddles.

The problems that sometimes come up are when you don't pump and you needed to. Some of the solids can float and enter the leech field. Then you're in trouble because you've got to dig it up and remove the blockage, yuck!

So, how do you know when to pump? At my parent's house if you flush the upstairs toilet and the downstairs toilet "burps" you need to pump. If in the basment you get an ever so faint odor of sewage, you need to pump. If you look in the tank and the "floaters" are up to the leech pipe, you need to pump. Different houses will tell you "its time" in different ways.

Now I'll grant you, I've only been at this for 23 years (I'm 26, my folks have been in their house for 23 years) but my dad is a Civil Engineer and I've been with him on countless house sites where they were putting in tanks, and I've had numerous friends who've had troubles. I like to think I know how to listen and pay attention.

Oh, one last thing, all of the above is true for New England and atlantic Canada only. I know nothing of anywhere else, other places probably do things differently, although I doubt its all that different.

Good luck!

ger    Posted 07-31-2002 at 16:14:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
i was always told never to use bleach as it kills the bacteria in the tank so i never did ,don,t know if its true or not but its been working fine for years an i pump it out about every 3 yrs but that will depend how many people in the house i guess.good luck ger

Jerry S    Posted 08-01-2002 at 09:45:09       [Reply]  [No Email]
On bleach, just like anything, too much is not good. Bleach does kill bacteria but also, when you use it for a washing machine and use it correctly, the chlorine ties up with the organics, soil, bacteria, and the soap, and then it is not going to kill bacteria after that because it is chemically bonded. One thing that hasn't been said but needs to is that liquid plubmer and other drain cleaners with lye in them will screw up the bacteria far faster than you can imagine. Same would be true of using too much acid like concentrated vinegar.

Hogman    Posted 07-31-2002 at 18:25:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
Right on Ger, bleach is a NO NO. I guess as to how often tha tank should be pumped depends on size,quantity of useage, health of tha bacteria farm etc and mabe some things as yet unknown ta mankind.

We removed tha top of a sess pool up in Montana that had been in use for decades, thing was almost dry and empty,just some humos in tha bottom. Thing is, in most areas a contraption like that would never have worked for more'un a few weeks.Sides, they would be illegal as all getout in most areas.

Bob /Ont.    Posted 07-31-2002 at 20:18:19       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hogman the best solution is in The Specialist By CHARLES CHICK SALES, an 8 family 3 hole'r, can't beatem. Lem Putt can't be wrong, smart a fellow as Will Rodgers I'd say.
Later Bob

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