septic_safety

Septic Field Safety in Your Yard

DOs

Do: Put grass seed or wildflowers on the septic field mound. Even weeds are better than leaving the ground above the septic field bare.

-These plantings will prevent the sun from beating down onto your septic drain field.

-All flowers must be shallow rooted, as the field itself can be as little 4 inches from the surface.

-Grasses and flowers stabilize the soils in the area.

-Not only do plants prevent erosion, but they will also use the extra moisture from the drain field. For shady areas Creeping Charlie which is ivy, can be used as it will multiply and cover the area. That said it is often hard to limit its growth to just the portion of lawn you want it be it.

-You want plants that require little digging or maintenance.

DO: Plant shallow rooted trees/shrubs like Azalea shrubs, Dogwood, Crabapple and Cherry trees, Holly and Boxwood shrubs near the septic drain field.

-Ornamental grasses can also be planted not on top of but near the septic field.

-Their shallow root systems are less likely to invade the underground system and cause it damage.

-You don’t want to add soil to the septic drain field, mulching too much or having to water anything frequently.

-How far away trees need to be from a septic system depends on their mature height. A mature tree which will be 30 feet high will need to be 30 feet away.You can also install root barriers to prevent roots spreading to the septic drain field.

DO NOT: Plant a garden any nearer than 10 feet away. Further away would be much better, particularly if it is a vegetable and fruit garden.

DO NOT: Plant willows including pussy willow shrubs anywhere near your septic or septic drain field. Other trees include: Aspen, Birch, Beech, Elm, Ash, Tulip or American Sweetgum trees.

-These trees have deep reaching root systems, which not only go deep but also spread out.

DO NOT: Park a car or ANY heavy machinery on top of the septic drain field. Avoid anything that could do damage to underground pipe system.

DO NOT: Allow children to play on the septic drain field.

-Everything that is flushed or tossed down a drain winds up in the drain field, some of which is toxic. The depth of your field can vary from inches to feet. If there has been a lot of rain or your system is old, hazards can and do exist. Excess water will slow down wastewater treatment.

DONT'Ts

IF you see bright grass growing on your septic drain field call a septic professional, this is a sign of a system failure or leak.

5 worst things for septic pipes

The Five Worst Things for Your Septic Pipes

New-House-Plumbing

Looking at the sink or toilet thinking can this dyer sheet or grease go down that...if you are thinking it, the answer is usually NO. Remember the pipe leading into your septic system is only 3 inches wide. The only things that should be flushed into your septic are items that are dissolvable. Your septic system is an expensive, finely tuned machine with moving parts that operates in water and sludge to dissolve waste from your home, Treat it with respect and it will last for years.

Dryer Sheets - Dryer sheets are coated with a waxy film that allows your clothes to come out of the dryer static free. However, some of that waxy residue remains and when tossed down a toilet can create clogs in your pipes as these do not dissolve.
Cat Litter - Yes, the box will state it is okay in septic systems, it is not. Cat litter by the time you toss it down your toilet already has been used by your cat. It clumps and does not dissolve. Cat waste itself can contain a nasty parasite called Toxoplasma which can cause some serious health problems to humans. Please toss in the trash.
Hazardous Chemicals - Harsh chemicals like bleach, motor oil, poisonous chemicals are big no-go’s for your septic tank. Tossing of them down the drain will kill off the good bacteria that helps to break down waste that keeps your system running the way it should. These chemicals can contaminate your soil which is another long-lasting hazard. Dispose of these chemicals properly.
Grease - Grease and oil doesn’t break down and will coat your pipes to the point that nothing will be able to get through. Clogged pipes lead will to your septic system backing up and this can cause serious damage to your septic system. Pour grease in a can and throw away. Wipe pans clean with a paper towel prior to washing.
Medicines - Having leftover medications, it can be tempting to just flush them. DON’T. Medicines can destroy the bacterial balance in your septic system, causing septic failure. Flushed medications also will contaminate groundwater, endangering the environment and, closer to home, your own drinking water. Many pharmacies will take and dispose of medications properly.

Keeping your septic system flowing and running is best not only for the longevity of your septic system as well as your family, but the environment as well. By avoiding putting items into your system that can harm your system you will save both time and money.

drainfield
septic pump

Does Your Home Need a Septic Pump?

What is a Septic Tank Pump - and Do You Need One?

Most septic tanks do not require a septic tank pump. (Not to be confused with septic tank pumping, which is the process by which your tank is emptied by a Septic Company. All septic tanks need to be pumped, in that sense.) A septic tank pump, on the other hand, is piece of equipment placed inside of a septic tank to help disperse water above the percolation area to the drainae field. 

A septic tank pump is necessary when the leach field or drainage field that the waste water seeps into is at a higher point than the septic tank, eliminating gravity as an option for flow dispersal. 

If I Need a Septic Tank Pump, Do I Need to Replace My Entire Septic Tank?

Unless there are other major problems with your septic tank, you will not require a septic tank replacement to install the pump. If your septic tank has multiple chambers, your pump can be intalled in your existing septic tank in the final chamber of the tank. 

If you have a single chamber septic tank, you do not want to place the pump directly in the tank as it will pump settled solids into your leach field. If your leach field becomes saturated or compacted, it will result in improper drainage and without leach field rejuvenation, can potentially damage your entire septic system. 

If your septic is a single chamber system, then a pump station can be installed near your septic tank to house the pump. There are filters than can be installed on your pump station to keep larger debris and effluent out of the pump. These filters should be removed and cleaned every 2-3 years, which is the same recommended schedule for septic pumping services

Septic Tank Pump Alarms and Controls

Septic Tank Pump alarms can be installed to give warning in the event of a pump failure or clog. These alarms are activated by a loat switch that is wiered into an alarm panel and can give you much needed notice that maintenance and repairs are required. If you have a septic tank pump alarm and it goes off, please call Tri-County Septic right way before it results in greater damage. 

17 chemicals

17 Chemicals You Shouldn’t Put Down Your Drains

There are two very important things to remember when you are going to pour something down your drain.

The first is that your septic system does allow fluids to drain out through a leach field which will in turn, enter the environment and make its way into the local ecosystem.

The second is that your septic system requires bacteria to break down solids and prevent damage to your system.

Any substance that could be toxic to the water supply - or kill off the necessary bacteria in your septic tank, should never be emptied into your system in large quantities.

For instance, rinsing off a paintbrush that was used for varnish is fine. Pouring the leftover varnish down the drain? You'd better not.

17 Chemicals that you should limit or avoid entirely:

1. Cooking Oils

Safe to eat does not equal safe to pour. Olive oil, canola oil, or any other vegetable oil, grease runoff from cooked meats, even salad dressings can all congeal and cause clogs throughout not only the pipes in your home, but throughout your entire septic system.

2. Motor Oil

For the exact same reasons as above, plus one, you should never dispose of motor oil down your drains, or even in your yard. Motor oil is harmful to the environment and dangerous for the water supply.

3. Paints

Many consider washing hands or brushes out in the sink to be acceptable, though we would never recommend that to our customers. Paints and paint additives often contain additives that are toxic. These toxins can leach into your water supply once poured down your drains. In addition to the toxins, the paint have a tendency to congeal and cause clogs. You should never put any paints or varnishes down the drain.

4. Furniture Polish

Furniture polish can be extremely toxic. Poisoning from furniture polish can cause a vast array of damage to multiple systems of the body. Read the labels of all cleaning products before disposing for proper disposal instructions, or call the manufacturer.

5. Lye/Sodium Hydroxide (NaOh)/Caustic Soda

Your septic system depends on bacteria to break down the organic matter in your septic system. Lye can kill these bacteria, causing your septic to sludge up much quicker than it would otherwise. Lye can be found in most cleaners, and in reasonable amounts, it will not cause a huge problem. As a base, it affects pH level of anything it is added to and can increase the pH of your water supply above what is safe for consumption.

6. Drain Cleaners

Drain Cleaners such as Drano are generally lye based and can kill of the necessary bacteria in your septic tank.

7. Oven Cleaners

These are also lye based products and should be disposed of per manufacturer recommendations.

8. Pesticides

It's important to remember that anything that goes down your drain will eventually end up in the water table. Pesticides can be toxic in large quantities, and certain pesticides contain bacteriocides, or antimicrobials that can kill the necessary bacteria in your septic tank.

9. Photo Chemicals

Kodak and other popular photography companies do not recommend pouring darkroom chemicals into a septic. These products can be high in metals that can affect your septic system, as well as have a toxic effect on the water table.

10. Paint Thinners

Paint thinner is an extremely volatile chemical solution. If it mixes with acids, it can have a very bad reaction. (pouring paint thinner down your drain an hour before your spouse pours out vinegar could be a huge problem.) It's highly toxic and should never be mixed with anything other than oil based paints or substances specifically recommended by the manufacturer.

11. Varnishes

Varnish is not only toxic and harmful to the water supply, but it is designed to harden, which can cause serious problems for your septic system.

12. Antibiotics

In normal quantities, such as flushing the occasional prescription down the toilet, antibiotics will not have a major effect on your septic system's necessary bacteria. However, if attached to a residence with a large number of individuals taking such medications, such as a nursing home, etc, antibiotics can cause a lot of damage to your septic system.

13. Cleaners High in Phosphates

Detergents and other cleaners with phosphates are harmful to the environment. It depletes the vital oxygen that fish and other aquatic organisms spent on and can cause significant algae problems in nearby lakes and streams. If you live in a lake community where septic systems are prominent, please educate your neighbors and encourage the use of phosphate free detergents. Phosphorus is harmful to the environment, as it can deplete oxygen which is vital to fish and other aquatic organisms. The use of phosphate-free detergents, also helps prevent algae problems in nearby lakes and streams.

14. Cleaners High in Surfactants

It is recommended to use laundry detergents that are low in surfactants. Visually, you can notice high levels of surfactants based on how foamy or sudsy the water becomes. Many surfactants have poor anaerobic degradability in the septic tank and may inhibit hydrolysis (the chemical breakdown of a compound due to reaction with water.) This impacts the ability of your septic to break down solids. Surfactants have also been shown to negatively affect aquatic life in high levels.

15. Illegal Drug Manufacturing Chemicals

True story: A household involved in the illegal manufacturing of drugs was pouring the chemical byproduct down the sink, which in turn poisoned the well and poisoning the people who were manufacturing the drugs.

16. High Quantities of Household Acids

The most common household acid is vinegar. Normal levels of vinegar are perfectly safe to put into your septic, but if you had a case of apple cider vinegar that just didn't taste right anymore (vinegar doesn't go BAD as it's self preserving as an acid) or large quantities of citric acid perhaps used in candle-making or some other hobby, the drain is not the place to dispose of these as you could have a negative effect on the pH of your water table. Please note though, that vinegar-based cleaners are much safer for your septic than phosphate or surfactant based cleaners.

17. High Quantities of Household Bases

Ammonia and bleach are the most common household bases. As a rule, ammonia is one of the safer base chemicals to pour down your septic. Bleach is also relatively safe. However, if your cleaning business closes down and you decide to pour out all of your bottles of cleaner at once, you can affect the pH level of your water table in a negative way. It's important to be mindful about disposing of high quantities of anything besides water and check manufacturer labels for suggested alternatives for disposal.

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