What You Need to Know About Septic Systems…
What do you know about septic systems?
It’s a fact of rural life that without a municipal sewage system, country dwellers are on their own when it comes to storing and disposing of all kinds of wastes. You have a septic system to do this for you – so come on, let’s go get acquainted.
Your septic system is essentially a small-scale sewage treatment system. Generally – with some variation depending on jurisdiction – a septic system will include a tank, pumps, alarms, sand filters and drain fields. When everything is working properly, any sewage generated in your home is efficiently dealt with to ensure the good health of everyone in the house as well as the environment outside it.
Your septic tank is where a lot of the nitty gritty goes down. Literally. Solids will settle to the bottom of the tank where helpful bacteria will continue the process your gut started. A layer of scum – yes, that is the technical term – will form on the top of the tank and in the middle is a liquid that believe me, you don’t want to know better. These liquids will be filtered and then will be gradually dispersed through a drain bed where your grass can reap the rewards. That’s how it works in a nutshell.
Troubleshooting Septic Systems
Unfortunately, we can be our own worst enemies when it comes to the health of our septic systems. Homeowners can overload systems by flushing tampons, cotton swabs and inorganic debris like cigarette butts down the toilet. Oils and grease are tough to break down and can make for a smelly situation. There are a few things that should never – never never! – get sucked into your septic. They include:
• Even small amounts of silver nitrate, found in some medications, will kill an entire culture of septic bacteria
• Cat litter
• Coffee grounds
• Diapers, Kleenex, condoms etc.
And for homeowners who may be concerned about Spring flooding, here are a few pointers and guidelines provided by the provincial government. Be informed!
Proper Care for your Septic System
The first consideration when it comes to your septic is selecting the proper system for your home and needs. There are many different installers out there, make sure you call around to ensure that your getting accurate information and a fair quote. There are many factors to consider including the size of your home, the number of bums in it, the site the house will be built on and what, if any, water treatment you may want to incorporate into the system.
Secondly, you have to stay on top of the maintenance. Over time, that tank is going to fill up and the solids will need to be removed. This is NOT a job you can do yourself. NEVER open your septic tank. Over time, gases build in your septic tank and some of these are toxic and can kill. Professional septic companies have the skills and experience to empty tanks safely and efficiently. If you want some reputable names, get in touch and we’ll let you know.
Ensuring your Septic’s Good Health
Aside from taking care not to flush any of the no-nos mentioned above, you can also take some steps to help keep your septic system in tip-top condition. Things like:
• Consider installing low-flow toilets
• Make sure your laundry loads are appropriate to the volume of water being used
• Keep heavy items off the septic tank – no play structures!
• Don’t plant trees too close to septic tanks or lines – the roots wreak havoc. Don’t do it!
• Keep showers short and use a water-saving shower head
• Empty the tank! Anywhere between one and five years depending on the tank’s size and the number of people in the house.
• Think carefully before installing an under-sink garbage disposal. There are implications to how often you’ll need to empty that tank.
With the proper care and maintenance, your septic tank can last a long time. (CLICK HERE if you want to learn more about Septic Systems.) Water saving strategies are a big part of what we do at Instant Plumbing and we’d be happy to come out to your property and walk you through your options. Give us a call!