Septic maintenance questions

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After living with city sewer systems for 75+ years we now are "proud owners" of a septic system and about to be two systems. New woodshop/garage will have half bath and sink for cleanup on a septic. Have read don'ts like using bleach down the sink that will kill off the critters that make septics work and some other tips but would really like to go to a comprehensive site for more info. Does one exist? Shortly after moving in a phone solicitor asserted we HAD TO use their product monthly or we'd ...! Our DIL uses something monthly but I question 3-5 ounces down the drain into a 1,000-1,500 gallon tank having a significant impact. Permit for new septic notes that 1,500 gallon system is required for disposal houses. Previous owner apparently had a disposal as a switch near the sink doesn't connect to anything and wires under the sink terminate in wire nuts. Our house septic is 1,000 gallons. Observations welcomed.
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One thing you don't really want to put down the drain is food scraps. The food will take a long time to breakdown in the tank. This will just fill up the tank and it will require it to be pumped out . Much of the solid waste will desolve and breakdown into a liquid form and go out the pipes to the ground.
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avoiding a disposal is right on advice for septic. the biggest mainanence item is to get it pumped regularily---2 to 5 years depending on how much use it gets. if you don't, the tank will fill up with solids, and then the solids start washing into the drainfield and plug it up. If you don't know when it's been pumped last, pump it now. i don't believe in the additives. just keep it pumped regularily.
Ralph Mowery wrote:

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marson wrote:

v> > > really like to go to a comprehensive site for more info. Does one

Using the garbage disposal to dispose of food waste will fill up the spetic tank faster (but........depending on where you live pumping more often might be less of a nusance than food waste in your trash

I have lived in a home with septic system AND a disposal & now live in an older style home on city sewer & no disposal.
I would prefer a disposal over no disposal (JMO) when the weather is really hot the flies can be a somewhat of a nusance but a liquid fly trap helps keep them under control.
per this link minimizing & "leveling" your water usage is the best way to treat your septic system
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/components/6583-04.html
http://www.a1cesspool.com /
These links give opposite opinions on additives....so I don't know what to say, my dad used them & they seem to make sense to me.
cheers Bob cheers
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Was the phone solicitor "Krane Products"? I have bought some of their stuff in the past, but have no idea if it realy does much or not. What I do know is the stuff is expensive, and if you ever buy anything from them, they will pester you to death from then on-- they will not take "no" for an answer. You have to actually hang up on them, and I even had them call back right after I hung up on them. Larry
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I agree, you certainly do not want a garbage disposal on your sink when it is going in to a septic system. The most important thing is to keep solids from getting into the field. Pump your tank at least every 2 years, or even every year if you are a freak/worry wort like me, and make sure they inspect the tank baffles when empty. The baffles help prevent the solids from the tank entering the field. Also, make sure you don't let weeds/vines/trees grow in your field. The roots wreck havoc on it. It's also a good idea to avoid driving over the field, at least with large trucks, especially during any mud seasons. I'd also be careful with solvents/chemicals going into the drains in the new woodshop/garage facility. There is a good book called "The Septic System Owner's Manual", I'm sure if you do a search for that title at your favorite book vendor you'll find it. Authors are Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen, & Julie Jones.
Here's some web resources for you:
http://www.montana.edu/wwwpb/pubs/mt9403.html
http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infsep/infsep.shtm
Hope this helps!
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jackson wrote:

The baffles are there primarily to prevent the floating scum from entering the leach field.
A septic tank separates the incoming sewage into three layers:
- scum (floating on top; consisting mainly of grease, soap, hair, and lint)
- sludge ("solids", on the bottom, mostly poop that hasn't decomposed completely yet)
- liquid (the middle layer)
When operating properly, only the liquid flows out the septic tank and into the leach field, where bacteria in the soil break down the pathogenic bateria in the liquid.
If the floating scum layer gets too deep, it will get past the baffles and enter the leach field. This is not good. It clogs things up.
If the sludge layer on the bottom gets too high, then sludge will exit the septic tank and get into the leach field. This is not good either.
Additives are useless. Some additives are even worse than useless: they have chemical properties that act to keep fine solids in suspension (instead of sinking to the bottom where they belong). These fine suspended solids are carried out the tank along with the liquid into the leach field, and they eventually clog up the leach field.
We have a family of 5 with a 1500 gallon septic tank. I had the tank pumped 5 years after purchasing the home. I watched the whole process and spoke with the guy. He said I could have gone another 5 years no problem. So it all depends on what you put down the drain. We have no garbage disposal; we use detergent instead of bar soap in the shower; we don't flush the "wet wipes", etc. We do use bleach in the laundry. The showers, the toilets, the sump pump, and all the sinks in the house go to the septic (we don't have a separate dry well for gray water).
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Ralph Mowery wrote:

Our rather modern septic system has a filter in the tank that ought to be taken out every 4 month or so, and sprayed clean with a water hose. Then reinstall it. It has to be lined up correctly to turn into the groove slots. - udarrell
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http://www.udarrell.com/airconditioning_eer_ratings_over_seer_ratings_central_systems.html
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udarrell wrote:

Right. How many homeowners do you think actually do THAT ?
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Ether Jones wrote:

All the homeowners that have such systems *and* happen to work for septic service companies so they actually understand them.
Pete C.
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snipped-for-privacy@vcoms.net wrote:

You know it would be nice if posters here at least gave the general area they are in as different climates affect some things in different ways and septic use is one of them. The no 1, dont do for any area is to not put grease on any kind in the system another is coffee grounds.How you use and where your at determines how long your system will operate. My wife and I lived in Duval county Florida and used a septic tank (550 gal) for 28 years before we had problem Then it was that the original field tiles were of cement (WWII available) and they finely deteriorated The tank itself was only about 1/2 of solids. Mind you that was in Florida and the septic there have a worm in them that eats most of the solids.So where you live makes a difference. At present I live in Tennessee alone and my septic of 550 gals has been going strong now for 13 years and never ben touched. So if your tank is constructed correctly you will know when it fills with solids before any go into your drain field.. Jack
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Jack wrote:

"only" 1/2 ?? If a tank is half full of solids, it is on the verge of failure.
The scum baffles go about halfway down into the tank. If it's half full of solids, the baffles go down into the solids and the liquid forces solids into the leach field.

a "worm" ??? what kind of worm?

Exactly how will you know this, without opening the tank and inspecting it??
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snipped-for-privacy@vcoms.net wrote:

Bodily wastes will put out enough bacteria to digest things in your septic tank. Expensive additives are unnecessary. Thirty years and mine is functioning well. We pump settling tank out every three years. Only comment pumper had was he advised liquid detergents as there was some grease build-up. We use disposal sparingly and make sure we do not dump grease down it. Little bleach from wash will not hurt anything. Only paper that should be flushed is toilet paper as other disposable paper like facial tissues or napkins may not degrade as readily. Our original system did not perk well and we had to put in an alternate drain field and I sometimes switch back and forth to let one field rest and clean. Today in this area 2 fields must be put in. More people in house, more water in system, more possibility of drain field bubbling up.
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snipped-for-privacy@vcoms.net wrote in news:sblqg257cprmu6ohakvkc8i84jqs4ts1io@ 4ax.com:

Use common sense primarily. The thing is meant for crap, piss and water. Everything else is foreign.
Of course other stuff ends up there naturally and there's nothing you can do - dirt from laundry, toilet paper, dish soap, etc.
Concentrate on minimizing foreign stuff. If you have to use something like dishwashing detergent, use what will minimize impact.
Some things I can think of offhand:
Dishwasher soap: Use liquids. Some crystals end up in the tank.
Laundry detergent: Same as dishwasher
Use low phosphate detergents.
Toilet paper: Use plain white.
Grease: Absolutely none! Nil! It hardens into small and large white clumps. Even the little grease from browning ground meat. Toss it in a can and put in trash.
Chicken: I don't eat chicken. Chickens eat their own shit.
Household cleaners: If I had it in a bucket, I toss the bucket outside when done. If your scared it will screw up your lawn or driveway, think what it will do to the bio system in the septic. At least you don't need a backhoe to fix some bad grass spots.
Paint: Don't wash painting project tools in the house. Take it out in the yard and hit it wih the hose. It won't trash the grass. If it did, see household cleaners above.
Condoms: Though it may be cheaper to replace a septic system vs knocking up your wifes sister, not in the toilet with them.
Filtered cigarette butts: No no no! Go outside to smoke the "after" butt and toss the condom over the fence or something.
Leep in mind women use a lot more toilet paper than men. Well, I don't wipe my dink afterwards anyway. The more women in the household, the more paper in the tank. Keep that in mind when you decide on pumping frequency.
Cat litter: Don't be a jack ass.
Paper towels: No. Not made biodegradable like some toilet papers.
Tampons: I don;t care what the box says. Trash it.
Faucett/toilet drips: Fix em right away.. Even the smallest one. Something dripping a quart an hour will cycle an entire 1500 gal tank in 4 days.
There are many more. Use Google and find may sites with suggestions. You'll start noticing common no-nos. Some have better detailed stuff like http://alsnetbiz.com/homeimprovement/septic.html where washing machine lint stays suspended in water. A good percentage of it is synthetic and not biodegradable. Out to the drain field with you!
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Al Bundy wrote:

This must be the "new math". 4 days times 24 hours per day is 96 hours. At one quart per hour that's 96 quarts. A 1500 gallon tank is 6,000 quarts.
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wrote:

Could "4 days" really be "6 months"?
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98 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
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Mark Lloyd wrote:

More like 8 months. 1500gallons = 6000 quarts = 6000 hours = 250 days = 8+ months
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< snip >
Shit happens.
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Google septic pumping chart:
http://www.nowra.org/files/KnowYourSepticTank.pdf#search=%22septic%20pumping%20chart%22
1. Household chemicals like bleach don't hurt the septic system. Microbes are everywhere and re-establish themselves automatically and quickly. Even if you amazingly manage to sterilize the tank water, microbes are in your waste and in your tank and pipe walls.
2. Additives are a scam.
3. Garbage disposals are practically standard equipment for a modern kitchen and are very convenient. There's no need no deprive yourself of one. Just check the septic pumping charts and adust your pumping schedule accordingly. Pumping out a septic tank is CHEAP.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Is $140 cheap? That's the going rate around here, if the owner does the digging to expose the access cover. It's all relative I guess.
One other thing to consider. There IS a downside to pumping the tank. If there's a heavy rain when the tank is empty, and the soil gets saturated from the heavy rain, the tank can actually push its way up out of the ground, like a boat. Big time repair bill. Major $$$
An obvious way to prevent this is to run the water in the house to fill the tank with water after it's pumped out. But at 10 gallons a minute, it takes two and a half hours of constant running of your well pump to fill a 1500 gallon tank.
Another thing to consider is that some tanks are not well designed to keep scum out of the tank's exit pipe during the transition from empty to proper operating level. At proper operating level they do a great job, but during the transition they do not. Depending on the position and design of the exit baffle, a lot of scum can get into the exit pipe as the water level rises during use after pumping. Tanks with down-pipes and on the exit are MUCH less susceptible to this problem. So, if you are a frequent pumper, and you don't have a downpipe on the exit, ask to have one installed.
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