Drainage systems make wastewater disappear whenever toilets are flushed or hands are washed in buildings and residential properties. But for all the functions that drainage helps make possible—dishes, laundry, showers—few people stop and think about the mechanisms that go into the process.
If you have recently moved from a home on a sewer system to a home with a septic system, there are a few key differences that you need to be aware of. While your plumbing may look the same on the outside, there are some key differences internally when you compare a septic system to a sewer system.
The sewer system consists of a series of pipes underground that transfer the wastewater from a property to a water treatment facility in the area.
On the other hand, septic tanks act as smaller private sewer systems. Instead of the wastewater being transported directly to the water treatment facility, it is held in the ground in a tank underneath the property. Over time, the water is filtered out of the septic tank system and goes into a drain field area.
Septic Tank Cleaning
Septic tank cleaning should not be confused with septic tank pumping. Septic tank cleaning is done as a more comprehensive maintenance strategy in which wastewater and sludge (including those floating and those found at the bottom of your septic tank) are removed or evacuated. Once this process has been successfully carried out, it takes a longer time before it will need to be cleaned again. As such, this process is considered more efficient and cost-saving over the long term.
Septic Tank Pumping
Regularly pumping your septic tank is a necessity you absolutely cannot forgo if you want to retain its function and lifespan. Septic pumping involves removing the wastes that cannot dissolve in the tank. This solid layer of scum and sludge builds up over time and will lead to a septic failure and backup if ignored. The frequency of pumpings will depend on the size of your tank, number of occupants in your household and details of your water usage. Typically, septic tanks are pumped every 3 to 5 years.
Septic Tank Inspection
A septic tank inspection also needs to happen on a routine basis as part of your septic services. Inspecting your septic tank using video camera equipment is a best way to identify leaks, clogs or other types of damage to your system. At West Coast Sanitation, we use the latest technology to keep your septic tank system properly maintained and we will always work our hardest to provide you with the highest quality services.
Smart Septic Practices
It is critical that your entire household understands the rules for flushing and draining when you are on a septic tank. Nothing besides “septic-safe” toilet paper and wastes should be flushed down your toilets. It is also important that harsh chemicals are not put into your drains, as this can disrupt the healthy pH balance in your septic tank and threaten its ability to do its job. Always consult a septic professional when questioning a certain product you want to flush or drain.
Here are some things you should never put “down the drain” because they will mess up your septic system:
- Cooking Grease or Oil
- Egg Shells or Other Cooking Waste
- Coffee Grounds
- Paper Towels
- Baby Wipes (Even if Marked “Flushable”)
- Cigarette Butts
- Dental Floss
- Cotton Balls or Q-Tips
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Cat Litter
- Household Chemicals (Gasoline, Motor Oil, Pesticides, Antifreeze, Paint, etc)
Use Water Efficiently
The average indoor water use in a typical single-family home is nearly 70 gallons per individual, per day. Just a single leaky or running toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day.
All of the water a household sends down its pipes winds up in its septic system. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system. Efficient water use improves the operation of a septic system and reduces the risk of failure.
EPA’s WaterSense program has many simple ways to save water and water-efficient products.
- High-Efficiency Toilets
Toilet use accounts for 25 to 30 percent of household water use. Many older homes have toilets with 3.5- to 5-gallon reservoirs, while newer, high-efficiency toilets use 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush. Replacing existing toilets with high-efficiency models is an easy way to reduce the amount of household water entering your septic system.
- Faucet Aerators and High-Efficiency Showerheads
Faucet aerators, high-efficiency showerheads, and shower flow restrictors help reduce water use and the volume of water entering your septic system.
- Washing Machines
Washing small loads of laundry on your washing machine’s large-load cycle wastes water and energy. By selecting the proper load size, you will reduce water waste. If you are unable to select a load size, run only full loads of laundry.
Try to spread washing machine use throughout the week. Doing all household laundry in one day might seem like a time-saver; but it can harm your septic system, not allow your septic tank enough time to treat waste, and could flood your drainfield
Clothes washers that bear the ENERGY STAR label use 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than standard models. Other Energy Star appliances provide significant energy and water savings.
Maintain Your Drainfield
Your drainfield—a component of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank—is an important part of your septic system. Here are a few things you should do to maintain it:
- Parking: Never park or drive on your drainfield.
- Planting: Plant trees the appropriate distance from your drainfield to keep roots from growing into your septic system. A septic service professional can advise you of the proper distance, depending on your septic tank and landscape.
- Placing: Keep roof drains, sump pumps, and other rainwater drainage systems away from your drainfield area. Excess water slows down or stops the wastewater treatment process.
How to Find Your Septic Tank
If you are the owner of your house, you should know the location of the septic tank in your property. But if for some reason you do not know, there are several easy ways to find the septic tank in your property.
To find the septic tank, first check the septic tank map of your property which will have a diagram, with the location of the tank. You can also use a metal detector to detect the metallic rods of the septic tank, or look for visual signs in the yard, ask the neighbors where their tanks are located or follow the septic pipes as they exit from your home as they will eventually end in the septic tank.
With the passage of time, septic tanks have grass grown on them and it gets tough to find the exact location of the septic tank as they get hidden below the grass and shrubs. However, if this happens, it does not mean that you will not be able to find it. When you are inspecting the yard, there are a few places, where you do not have to search for your septic tank.
These places are:
- Under any paved surface or the driveway
- Beside the well, in case there is a well in the compound
- Not around big trees or wall
- Not very close to the house. The septic tank will be located at a distance of minimum five feet.
Clues to Find Your Septic Tank:
- Look for an unusual mound of earth or a hill which indicated the presence of a septic tank around the property.
- Look for unusual greenery in any area. If you find that there is a section of the yard where grass grows oddly fast, the septic tank might be present there.
- If you see a bald patch in the yard, it might be due to the septic tank. The tank might not be properly and the grass couldn’t grow there naturally.
Call West Coast Sanitation Today!
Like everything else, your septic system requires regular maintenance. Have it inspected by a septic company near you at least once every year. During a maintenance session, your contractor will pump your septic system, conduct a drain test, and look for & rectify issues.
At West Coast Sanitation, we know that you don’t have time to deal with septic problems. If you think that your system has reached capacity, please give us a call right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions and get your system working properly again.