Four Small Items That Damage the Septic System

septic system damageTrash like diapers and tampons clearly don’t belong in the septic system. However, some homeowners don’t understand that small items can damage the septic system as well. These items seem benign but can wreak havoc on the system.

1. Dental Floss

People tend to toss dental floss down the drain or toilet. After all, it’s just a feather-light piece of string. In reality, dental floss is made from tough nylon and Teflon, neither of which are biodegradable. These materials take an estimated 50 to 80 years to completely decompose. Putting floss into the system unnecessarily increases pumping frequency.

2. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are biodegradable but take time for full breakdown to occur. This is especially the case for non-organic coffee, because it contains chemicals. You can, however, use grounds for compost. They also make great mulch due to their neutral pH balance. Continue Reading →

Septic System Health Risks: Can the System Make You Ill?

septic system health risk, septic healthA septic system failure can lead to plumbing backups and an overflooded drain field. That’s not all, though; it can also make home occupants physically ill. Septic system health risks are especially serious if the household contains children and seniors.

How Could Your Septic System Make You Sick?

When a septic system starts to backup, it releases various gasses. One such fume is methane, which is not only flammable but also toxic. Another is sulfide, which can cause migraines, nausea, delirium, and convulsions in severe instances. Fumes may also carry airborne bacteria and allergens. These gasses may enter the home through drains or through leaks in the sewer piping or the toilet seal. Other possible entry points are the air ducts and HVAC system.

A backed up septic system can also force wastewater back into the house. That’s grey and blackwater teeming with harmful pathogens. This is all the more reason to schedule regular septic pumping. The health risks associated with septic systems are mostly avoidable. Continue Reading →

Can Soap Harm Your Septic System?

septic system soapLaundry wastewater goes through the septic system. Sure, the graywater might be a bit dirty, but the septic tank can handle it. What it might not be able to handle, though, is the detergent. What is the relationship between the septic system and soap?

How does Soap Harm a Septic System?

Some people believe soap residue is a good thing because detergent cleans dirty clothing. Unfortunately, the opposite is often the case. Some detergents contain ingredients that disrupt the septic system’s good bacteria that break down solid waste. This may shorten the tank’s lifespan, leading to the need for more frequent septic system inspections.

Be Aware of Powdered Detergents

Not all laundry detergents are equal. Powdered detergents may actually cause more harm than liquid soaps. The problem lies in the additives, which usually include sodium and composites that don’t completely break down in the water. These leave behind small clumps that settle inside septic pipes. Over time, this can clog the openings, much the same way as sludge and effluent. For the homeowner, this means more frequent pumping intervals. Continue Reading →

How Do Storms Affect Septic Systems?

storms septic systemsMonsoons aren’t exactly commonplace in the King County area. However, rough storms do occur every now and then. What is the impact of storms on septic systems? What can you do to keep the system from flooding?

Storms and Septic Systems: What’s the Connection?

Storms mean heavy rainfall, which can flood the soil absorption area that comprises the drain field. Once this area is saturated, the wastewater from the septic system has nowhere to go. The effluent then travels back into the plumbing system, backing up the sinks, drains, and toilets.

Prevention Before the Storm

Check the weather forecast. If you anticipate heavy rainfall, take the following measures:

  • Schedule a septic system inspection. A system already near its breaking point will have a harder time dealing with a flooded drain field. We recommend an inspection even for relatively new septic system installations.
  • Direct all gutters and spouts away from the drain field.
  • Keep vehicles and heavy equipment off the drain field. Excess weight causes soil compaction and reduces the soil’s ability to eliminate effluent.

Continue Reading →

Septic Systems and Medications: What’s the Correlation?

septic systems medicationsOn the surface, septic systems and medications don’t appear to be connected in anyway whatsoever. However, the correlation is actually very strong. We’ll explain why you need to be mindful of your septic system if you, or another household member, take medication.

How are Septic Systems and Medication Related?

When we mention medication, we’re not talking about over-the-counter drugs like Aspirin. For the most part, OTC pills are harmless. We are talking about prescription drugs, such as antibiotics or chemotherapy medications.

Why are these a problem? These drugs contain strong chemical compositions that can kill the good bacteria inside the septic tank. The septic system bacteria are vital for breaking down solid matter. The chemicals of prescription medicines remain active even in fecal matter.

According to estimates, researchers also found that 80% of streams and rivers contain traces of pharmaceutical drugs. Continue Reading →

How a Leaky Toilet Affects the Septic System

leaky toilet septic system, hydraulic overloadingMost homeowners believe a leaky toilet is purely an indoor plumbing problem. They believe a call to a local plumber will fix the issue. Unfortunately, the ramifications may go beyond the indoor pipes. A leaky toilet affects the septic system as well.

The Truth About Toilets and Septic Systems

A leak from a toilet, or even the faucet, may not seem like a big deal. A few drips here and there may seem negligible. However, the drops do add up and can end up flooding the septic tank and drain field. In turn, the water can’t properly flow out of the septic system, ultimately causing premature failure. Septic system technicians refer to this as hydraulic overloading. We can tell you for a fact that hydraulic overloading is a primary cause of septic system repairs.

How Leaks Destroy Septic Systems

Every time you use water in the home, the H2O flows through the septic line and eventually into the drain field. Peak water use usually occurs in the evenings; this is also when the septic system works the hardest. It then receives a much-needed break during sleeping hours when water use diminishes. However, if a toilet is leaking, then the septic system is receiving and dumping water throughout the night. This eventually floods the drain field. Continue Reading →

Septic Tank Pumping for Large Households

septic tank pumping, large household septicHow big is your household? Do you have a spouse along with multiple children and additional relatives? Septic tank pumping for large households is especially important due to the frequent use of the toilet, showers, and laundry.

What Constitutes a Large Household?

This is subjective, but our definition of a large household is a family of five or more. More occupants under a single roof means heavier use of the dishwasher, the garden hose, etc. This is taxing on the septic system. Scheduling a regular septic tank pumping, therefore, becomes all the more necessary.

Pumping Frequency Intervals

These guidelines are just a rough estimate. Only a septic system inspection can determine an accurate interval. Nevertheless, we generally recommend the following: Continue Reading →

Do You Have a Plumbing or a Septic Problem?

septic problem, plumbing problemHomeowners tend to use the terms “plumbing” and “septic” interchangeably. They denote similar but not identical systems. Regardless, if you have a pipe issue, it could be a plumbing problem or a septic problem Can a plumber diagnose a septic problem and vice versa?

Plumbers Are not Septic System Technicians

Plumbing and septic are two separate industries and do not overlap. Plumbers are far more common and well known. This doesn’t mean, though, that you can phone a plumber for a septic inspection. Many of our clients initially phone a plumber, only to be redirected to us. Likewise, we’re not adept at installing a heater or repairing a dishwasher.

We have heard stories of plumbers attempting to fix a septic problem. More often than not, this results in a misdiagnosis or a cost estimate way off the mark. Continue Reading →

Grass and Septic Systems: What Your Grass Is Telling You About Your Septic

septic system grassYour septic system probably lies below your lawn, with the lawn acting as the drainfield. The grass and the septic system beneath it actually work hand-in-hand because the soil absorbs the effluent. The state of the grass may also be an indicator of the septic system’s health.

How Septic Systems Affect Grass

Is the grass above the septic lush and green? Yes, this is mostly a positive; however, this may also yield some insight into the state of your septic system. If the grass is particularly lush—more so when compared to adjacent areas—then this may be a sign of a leak. This may indicate excess effluent is reaching the soil instead of settling down through the system.

Of course, vibrant grass isn’t an automatic indicator of a problem. However, if you also notice other symptoms, such as odors, toilet backups, or gurgling drains, then it’s time for a septic inspection.

Have Brown Grass?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may notice brown grass. Obviously, the grass is not receiving enough water, but what does this say about your septic system? The soil directly over the drainfield is thinner, usually about six to 12-inches thick. This makes it more prone to drying out. The browning is actually a good sign that the septic system is functioning properly. Continue Reading →

Can You Grow Plants Over A Drain Field?

drain field plantsMost homeowners are aware that trees and shrubs are a no-no for a drain field. The roots can penetrate into the pipes and cause serious issues. However, this doesn’t mean you are limited to a barren landscape devoid of greenery other than plain grass. We’ll list some acceptable drain field plants.

Drain Field Plants: Safe for the Septic?

Upon septic installation, some technicians will warn the homeowner not to plant anything other than grass. This is by no means an ironclad rule. Installers say this just to err on the side of caution.

The truth is that you can grow drain field plants, as long as they have shallow root systems. In fact, not only is this allowed, but we actually encourage it. The right kind of drain field plants actually help the drain field by sucking up excess moisture and preventing erosion. Continue Reading →