Guide to How Home Septic Systems Work
Washing our clothes, dishes, and even ourselves produces wastewater that has to go somewhere. Many of us don’t think about where that water is going. As long it’s flowing smoothly and draining just as well, we are happy. That mentality tends to be a bit different for septic tank owners. There isn’t the luxury of washing things away and not worrying about where they are going. With septic tanks, we have to be conscious of what goes down, how often, how much, and when a pumping might be needed. Septic tanks are a great invention due to the fact that they allow living facilities to be built in places that can’t reach the main city water lines. With various types of tanks that accommodate various types of regions, there are no limits to where a person can live, have fresh water and get rid of wastewater without concern.
Here at Speedy Rooter in Virginia, we know the importance of proper septic tank care. From installations and cleanings to pumpings and inspections, we offer all the services needed to keep your tanks safe, clean, and running smoothly. With proper maintenance and oversight, tanks are as safe and clean as any other wastewater option that exists. By making use of our professional services along with following the day-to-day dos and don’ts for septic tanks, your septic tank will live a great life and you’ll experience no differences in your lifestyle habits than anyone else with traditional sewer lines.
While the logistics of your tank are left to the professionals, it’s important to know enough about your tank to know what signs could point to problems, what options you have when an issue occurs, and what to expect when getting service.
What are the different types of septic tanks?
It’s important to recognize that while there are different types, certain areas have codes that may eliminate some of the options. But your experts will know that before your service request even begins, so you don’t have to concern yourself with choosing the tank that is right for your region or home.
A conventional septic system allows wastewater to begin the process of decomposition while still being in the tank. This is done by the waste and water separating into layers and the solids beginning to dissolve and turn into gases. Liquids that reach a certain level are then distributed through the drainage field. Gravity is used to distribute the effluent from the tank.
Soil conditions can require a different system to be used than the conventional one. In this case, a low-pressure dose system is often favored. This is beneficial if the drainfield is located uphill from the tank due to the natural positioning of the land. These systems pump waste into the drainfield where it has small pipes in shallow, gravel lined trenches.
Common Issues and Signs of Septic Tank Failure
How can you tell when your septic tank is full? The recommended average cleaning for a septic tank is every two to three years. This is dependent on various factors. One is how many people are using the tank and how often. If there are two people using a tank a few months a year, it won’t fill nearly as quickly as a household of five who live there year round. However, to avoid foul odors and harm being done to the tank for neglect, the average maximum between cleanings is three years regardless of the amount of use.
There are clear signs that many people don’t realize are warnings until it’s too late. An early sign of trouble is gurgling sounds during water draining or sometimes at random moments. This is caused by water struggling to drain and becoming stopped up in the line. Another early sign is a slow draining sink, shower, or tub. This could occur due to the tank being too full and water having a hard time entering the tank quickly and fluently. Foul smelling odors around the area of the tank or from the drains will tell you that your tanks needs to be emptied and cleaned. Layers of sludge and buildup will grow during the use of the tank and it’s important to have them cleaned regularly to avoid this issue. The toxins of the layers not only create an odor strong enough to seep into your home through the drains, but it also eats away at the inside of the tank, which could lead to decay, failure, and premature replacements.
Signs that things are getting bad quickly are water and sewage from toilets, drains, and sinks backing up into the home and not draining. This usually calls for an emergency call to a professional such as Speedy Rooter. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the ground around the tank. Knowing your tank’s location is critical to being able to notice if there may be an issue. If you notice soggy grounds even during a dry day, your septic tank may be overflowing into the surrounding soil. Therefore, that sogginess is due to wastewater and is toxic and should be avoided until a professional attends to the tank. Puddles of water are also a sure sign of a serious issue and could easily lead to an emergency phone call to a professional to evaluate the situation.
When a professional comes for an inspection, they will evaluate a few key things in the tank: the overall condition, any issues such as leaks or cracks, and the sludge layers in the tank at that time. Depending on the size of the tank, the inspector will advise you on whether it needs to be pumped or not and will also provide an estimate of how often you should have your tank pumped based on the results.
Septic tank maintenance is critical to the health of your loved ones and anyone who works, plays, or comes into contact with the ground above the tank. Septic tanks have the dirty job of ridding us of our wastewater, so you can imagine how unsanitary it would be to come into contact with any of the toxic waste that lies within the tanks. Unfortunately, if tanks are not properly cared for and not cleaned in the recommended amount of time, overflow is very possible. If a tank overflows with waste, where does the waste go? Into the ground. If this happens once, it is less of an issue; however, when that continues to happen over and over, it will begin to seep through the topsoil and into the top layer of your grass above the tank. What may seem like a mushy ground from a rainfall could actually be wastewater. If a person comes into direct contact with wastewater, it can be detrimental to their health and a true hazard. A person can become severely ill from the toxins that are in wastewater. If you have any concerns that your tank is overflowing or malfunctioning, it’s important to call a professional immediately for the safety of your family and neighbors. Never try to evaluate it on your own. Leave that to the professionals who are equipped with the knowledge and tools to perform an evaluation safely.
Common Septic Tank Repairs
Repairs are cheaper than replacements, so we always perform a thorough evaluation to see the condition of the tank and to determine what the exact source of the problem is and whether it can be fixed without replacing the system.
Drainfield pipes are a fix that can easily be worked on. The pipes can be affected by the ground shifting over time, which cannot be prevented but can be fixed if it happens. This can also be caused by tree roots intruding into the pipes or even above-ground motions from construction, which is why it’s advised to stay away from drain pipe areas and areas above the tanks to avoid such damage.
Rusting baffles are also a common septic tank problem. These are blockers of the solid material escaping the tanks and seeping into the soil around it. Unfortunately, this is a sign of septic tank failure in some cases, but we will not jump to that conclusion without an in-depth evaluation and inspection.
Clogs are another huge culprit of septic tank trouble, just like in a traditional sewer line. These can come from paper products being stuck and tree roots intruding into the pipes. With proper cleaning and proper maintenance, these are less likely to happen. There are certain steps you can take to care for your tank and actions that you and your family members should keep in mind to keep your tank from overflowing and need maintenance sooner than later.
Septic Tank Care Options for Your Family
While you should always leave the maintenance and repair of your tank to your professionals, there are steps you can take to keep your tank in good shape and have it last for as long as it’s designed to.
Use water efficiently.
While this is a rule that we all should follow for the betterment of our environment, it is especially important for septic tank users. Every drop of water that you use is more water that is filling your tank. Be conscious of how much water your running when brushing your teeth. Be considerate when you’re taking that too-long shower. Be aware of washing smaller loads of laundry and make sure to get more into a load than just a few items at a time. All of these little steps will help your tank stay in good shape for the years between pumpings.
Put your trash in the trash.
Paper products such as toilet paper are going to be flushed, but what doesn’t belong in the toilet or down the drains needs to stay away from the toilets and drains. These items do not break down like waste does. For that reason, they will fill your tank and leave you with a fuller than usual waterline, causing overflows and early pumpings. Things such as diapers, cigarettes, paper towels, chemicals, fats, grease, fuels, food particles, and even clothes have been found in tanks. These are all major culprits of clogs and overflows.
Food processors are a no no.
Food processors seem like a great convenience, but when you’re working with a septic tank, they are your worst enemy. They will contribute to the buildup and grime in your tank. When inspectors account for the wastewater buildup over the years, they don’t account for food waste. That added disposal will put you in a situation to have to empty the tank much sooner than anticipated.
Avoid areas above your drain pipes and septic tank.
Common issues with broken pipes or septic tank damage stem from people doing work or activities on the ground above the pipes. Be conscious of construction areas if doing renovations to your home. Avoid any areas near the pipes or tank. Don’t place any heavy objects on the ground above the tank or pipes. While it might be at a standstill, the weight of the object over time will cause the ground to give and put pressure on the tank or pipes. And, in case of an overflow, it’s a good idea to avoid these areas as much as possible to avoid the toxins that are released.
Virginia’s trusted septic tank professionals.
Septic tanks are great to have and can easily be kept in great condition with proper care. Building a good working relationship with a trusted professional in the area will help in the process of keeping your tank up to date and fully functioning. If you need a repair, we can do it. If you need an inspection, we will provide it. We will even schedule your routine pumpings and send you reminders when it’s time so you don’t forget and lose track. Working together with a business that values their customers is critical to building a long-lasting relationship. With 24⁄7 services, we’re always on call to provide you with the best of the best at any hour of the night. If you’re in the state of Virginia and you’re in need of a new plumber or need a service performed immediately, call Speedy Rooter today.