If you live in Jacksonville, St. Augustine area, you probably have a septic system. This is a large, underground container where all the waste water from the bathroom, toilet and laundry flows to. The heavy solids settle at the bottom where a bacteria breaks them down into gasses and sludge. The lighter solids such as grease form a scum layer at the top of the tank while the solids that cannot decompose are left in the tank. If these solids are not removed at least once in a while, they accumulate and may flow to the drain field causing damage.
When the septic system is not properly taken care of, it can become hazardous and expensive to repair when it fails. Taking care of the septic system does not have to be difficult. There following are effective tips that will help you take care of your septic tank, avoid clogs and other unnecessary repair.
• Inspect and Pump the tank Frequently
A septic system in an average home should be inspected at least once in 3-5 years by a professional. However, alternative systems with pumps, electrical float switches or mechanical components should be pumped more frequently, at least once every year. The factors that determine how frequent a septic tank should be pumped include:
- The household size
- The amount of wastewater generated
- Volume of solids in the wastewater
- The size of the septic tank
You should never be tempted to lift the lid of the septic tank on your own unless you are well trained and you have protective clothes. This is because the gasses can overcome you and the bacteria is very dangerous. Professional sewage workers are vaccinated regularly for Hepatitis, Diphtheria and Tetanus to protect them from the effects of the bacteria.
• Use water efficiently
The average water use in a single family home is almost 70 gallons per person daily. A running toilet or a leaky faucet can waste nearly 200 gallons of water daily. As stated above, all the water sent out from a home goes to the septic tank, the more the water a household is able to conserve, the less water enters the septic tank which in turn enhances the operation of the septic system and reduces its chances of failure. The following simple ways will help save water in a home thereby improving the operation of a septic system.
1. Use of High efficiency toilets
Toilet use accounts to more than 30 per cent of the water used in a household. The toilets in most old homes have 3.5-5 gallon reservoirs while the high efficiency toilets use 1.6 gallons. Therefore, replacing the old toilets with the more efficient ones will help reduce the amount of water that enters the septic system.
Also, you can consider fitting dual flush toilets using a Hippo or even convert the existing toilet to an eco-toilet with an interflush conversion that significantly reduces the amount of water needed to flush. The interflush is fitted on the top of the WC siphon and it connects to the flush handle. This toilet only flushes when the handle is held downwards, releasing it stops the flush. This means it only uses the required amount of water to clean the toilet which significantly reduces the amount of water used to flush the toilet.
2. Repair leaky toilets and taps to prevent water wastage. Dual flush toilets often leak at the valve after sometime and may need replacing. Also consider installing faucet aerators, shower flow restrictors and high efficiency showerheads to help reduce the volume of water entering the septic tank.
3. Washing machines
Washing small laundry loads on the large load cycle of your washing machine wastes both water and energy. You should select the right load size in order to reduce the water used. In case your washing machine does not have the option of selecting the load size, run it only if full laundry load.
Reduce water waste, you should not run a half-empty dishwasher. Always run with a full load.
Dispose waste properly
Whether you pour it down the sink, grind it in the garbage disposal or flush it down the toilet, everything you pour down the drain goes to the septic tank and what gets to the septic tanks affects the effectiveness of its operation. For this reason, you should not use your sink and toilet as a rubbish bin.
• Never flush disposable nappies, cat litter, paper towels, tampons, panty liners, cigarette, coffee ground or facial tissue down the toilet. They will clog the septic tank reducing its effectiveness.
• Do not install a waste disposal unit as it will double the amount of solids that get to the septic tank.
Be cautious with the disinfection and cleaning products that you pour down the sink.
• Do not overuse heavy, disinfectants and anti-bacterial cleaning products as they will kill the useful bacteria in the septic tank that digest the solids.
• Avoid using anti-bacterial hand wash products as they will poison the bacteria in the septic tank.
• Use paper towels to wipe grease off plates before washing as it clogs the drainfield making it impossible for the soil to absorb the liquids. If this happen, you will need to a new drainfield which is quite an expensive process.
• Paint thinners, varnish, spirit, petrol, motor oils and other chemicals will ruin the septic system and they are not broken down easily by the soil bacteria.
• Protect your drainfield
• You should not drive over the drainfield, cover it with tarmac or concrete or build any structure on it. You can place gravel but only for a foot bath.
• If possible plant grass on the area as it absorbs most of the water.
• Keep sump pumps, roof drains and other water drainage system away from the drainfield as excess water in the area will slow down or ultimately stop the treatment process.
• Do not plant trees anywhere near the septic system. The roots can easily damage the septic system, therefore plant them at least 30 metres away from the system. Trees with more aggressive roots like poplars and willows should be planted even further away from the system.
View this link for more information on caring for your septic, http://www.septicwizards.com