Your Septic Tank: Flushing out the Best Maintenance Methods
A prototype of the modern septic tank was first designed in France, in 1860. Later, especially around the 1930’s to the 1940’s, people in the United States began to briskly build homes and farmhouses. Since these rural people often lived many miles apart, a shared or public sewer system wasn’t practical. So residents installed septic tanks on their properties and highly prized indoor bathrooms in their homes. They were certainly a major improvement over trudging through deep snow to visit a dark, frigid privy on a cold winter’s night!
Pointers: Septic System Savvy
Today, many people still have these private sewer systems commonly known as septic tanks. If you have one, it’s wise to care for it properly. Here are some tips: http://www.nesc.wvu.edu/pdf/ww/septic/pl_fall04.pdf
- Never drive or park a car over the location of the tank. Never place a heavy item such as a shed over the tank location, either. It could damage it.
- The root systems of trees, bushes and shrubs can become entangled in and around the pipes of the septic system, damaging and blocking them. Make sure these areas are kept clear of roots.
- Never dump chemicals down your toilets or drains. They can alter or destroy the balance of bacteria in your septic tank. These bacteria are crucial for the breakdown of solid waste products.
- Dispose of kitchen grease and similar items in the trash, not down the drain. Use an old coffee can to store old cooking oil and grease. When full, securely tape down the lid and place in trash.
- Your system can only absorb so much graywater, which is water from sources other than the toilet bowl, at a time. Be mindful of how much dishwasher water and washing machine water you are draining at a time. Do only full loads, and space out showers for larger families.
- Use your garbage disposal sparingly. Consider stopping its use altogether. Use the trash instead. Garbage disposals place a great strain on the septic system.
- Pump your system regularly as recommended by your service provider. This is one of the best ways to prevent problems.
- Flush nothing but septic tank-safe toilet paper. Remember, you have a closed system. Flushed solid items such as cigarette butts and tampons have nowhere to go and can cause blockages.
- Make sure the septic system filter is kept clean. Replace when necessary.
Use only those cleaners approved for your septic tank system. Never flush drugs down the toilet. Antibiotics, in particular, could destroy necessary system bacteria. Never use chemical tank cleaners containing corrosives such as sulfuric acid. These will damage your system. Learn about some septic do’s and don’ts to prevent toilet troubles!
There are biological products containing bacteria and enzymes that are inexpensive and easy to use. These products give a boost to the bacterial environment in the tank. In any case, there is NO product that will replace the need for regular, professional tank pumping. Remember to have your whole system inspected once a year. The inspector will measure scum and sludge levels, inspect the grease trap and perform other important tasks to prevent future problems. https://www.epa.gov/septic/how-care-your-septic-system.
We are EarthCare, and we are experts in the repair and maintenance of septic tank systems. You can reach us here: contact us. A trained, professional associate will be pleased to assist you. We look forward to serving you.
Avoid Clogs: Never Put These Items Down Your Drain!
Clogged drains are an annoying problem to deal with, especially if you have a septic system. However, if you’re careful of what you wash down your sink, tub or toilet, you can avoid clogs in the future.
The following are items that you should never put down your drain to avoid clogs:
- Hygiene products: Even if they say that they are “flushable”. Things like baby wipes, feminine care products, and similar items don’t disintegrate as fast as toilet paper does. Because these items don’t disintegrate quickly, they will fill up a septic tank faster, and can create blockages. Always throw these items in the trash instead.
- Chemicals and medicines: Harmful chemicals and medicines can potentially leach into groundwater, affecting plants and wildlife. In addition they can cause harm to septic systems, as septic systems rely on a delicate balance of bacteria to break down waste. Medicines and chemicals can harm or kill these good bacteria, leading to waste building up and clogging your drains instead of breaking down.
- Grease and other food waste: Oils and fats are not easily broken down. They can stick to pipes and become solid at certain temperatures. Dish soaps break down grease only temporarily, so washing a greasy pan in your kitchen sink can lead to unforeseen problems. It is never a good idea to wash grease or other food waste, like vegetable peels, down the drain.
If you have a clogged drain or septic system, or want more information on how to keep your septic system healthy all year round and avoid clogs, contact us.
What Potential New Home Owners Should Know About Septic Systems
New home owners and potential buyers need to know about septic systems on-site before they move forward with a purchase. The issue with septic tanks is that if there is some fault in the system you could potentially buy a home and then be stuck with a big repair bill that you weren’t even expecting. That is why it is important for new home owners and buyers alike to really look at the septic system before buying the property. Here’s what you should know.
What you need to know up-front is that no septic system inspection or test can give you a one hundred percent guarantee that there are no flaws or defects in the septic system. However, the right tests and a proper inspection can reduce your risk of having a very costly septic surprise, and give you confidence moving forward and completely a home purchase.
When visually inspecting a property with a septic system look for areas that are wet, smelly or odorous, rocky, or recently excavated. Determine where the septic system is and where the leaching field, where the run-off is distributed is. A simple thing to know is that if the leaching field is completely saturated and soaked and you smell a strong, heavy odor the septic system is not working properly.
Potential new home owners should know to avoid the septic dye test. While it was once a reliable testing method when septic systems weren’t as deep or on as big of a grade, now these tests are flawed and barely detect any of the issues a septic system might have.
Please feel free to contact us to learn more about septic systems and what potential new home owners should look for.
EarthCare Spotlight: The Beacon Team
EarthCare provides a wide range of wastewater management solutions, serving 12 states and operating from more than ten service locations. EarthCare, part of the Wind River Group, covers the largest service territory in the industry. The company’s commitment to service and education allows them to maintain long-lasting, trustworthy relationships with customers.
The EarthCare Beacon Team has a strong commitment to customer education, believing that knowledge helps them maintain systems, avoid emergencies, and save money. EarthCare is also committed to ensuring they provide technicians that are fully qualified, each of them required to graduate from Wind River University, a proprietary program. EarthCare residential services include Septic Inspections, Septic Pumping, and Septic Installation and Repair.
Septic requirements vary from state to state, municipality to municipality, requiring a trained and accredited professional, to perform all septic system inspections. The Beacon Team Inspectors, across the entire service area, are all trained and certified by the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA).
Sludge accumulates and builds up in your septic system and, if not addressed, can lead to an unhealthy balance in your septic system and even too costly repairs. To maintain a healthy system, we recommend regular pumping, and that is why it the first step in our 3-Step Maintenance Program. The frequency of service requirements varies due to a range of factors, and the best way to determine your needs is by speaking with an EarthCare Technician.
Septic Installation and Repair
EarthCare can repair and service every aspect of your septic system, repairing or replacing septic covers, installing septic filters, repair or replacement of lines and distribution boxes, or installing a Build Up. EarthCare will inspect each component, checking the entire septic tank and system for cracks, leaks, and holes and can handle any repair your system needs.
To learn more about the Beacon Team, septic maintenance, and the services we offer contact us today.
Making Sure Your New Grease Trap is Up to Standards
If you own a food service establishment you are most likely already aware that you must have a new grease trap installed. However, knowing you need to have a trap installed and being qualified to install one are not the same things. Much like any other piece of specialized equipment in your commercial kitchen, your grease trap must be installed by a licensed service provider to ensure that it meets the standards required in your area.
Codes & Plumbing Standards
In most areas, grease traps and the standards that guide their installation, usage and maintenance are prescribed in the areas building & environmental codes. Failure to follow all applicable codes can result in heavy fines in some locations. Having an in-depth knowledge of all plumbing and associated codes will be required to determine appropriate units, location, and installation for your new grease trap.
There are many things to consider when installing a new grease trap including the size, location, and design that will be used. In many locations, the size and location of your trap will be determined for you based on local codes and the qualifications set forth by the city building inspector. A grease trap that is not correctly sized will fail to function correctly and will need to be replaced.
Regardless of what type of trap you have installed, you will need to obtain the proper permits before its installation. You will also need to ensure that your unit and its placement follow all applicable guidelines for your area, this may require upgrades to lines leading into and out of the trap, removal of prohibited or restricted features and meeting accessibility standards for maintenance and monitoring.
A grease trap is not a complicated piece of equipment, but installing it correctly requires specialized knowledge. You should never attempt to install your own grease trap. A licensed plumbing professional can help you get the right product installed in the right location, with the right conditions to keep you and your restaurant running. Contact EarthCare online or by phone at 800-428-6166 for more information about installing, maintaining, upgrading or repairing your commercial grease trap.
Baltimore “Fatberg” Causes Major Backup into Nearby Stream
Fats, oils and grease (FOG) are not to be taken lightly. You may think that a little grease here or a wet wipe there won’t hurt your drains, right? Recently in Baltimore, Maryland what has been referred to as a “fatberg” caused 1 million gallons of sewerage to leak into Jones Falls at the end of September. While investigating the leak, Baltimore authorities noted that about 85% of the pipe is blocked.
The overflows have since been redirected to storm drains, but this could have been prevented. Home owners and business owners a like should be wary of not disposing of FOGs down their drains and even though some of those wet wipes boast “flushable” they should still be disposed of in the trash. By following best practices such as installing a strainer on drains and sinks and disposing of grease properly this could have been an avoidable mess.
Taking Care of Septic Sludge Buildup
Water entering the septic tank is full of a myriad of solids and chemicals. Aerobic bacteria in the tank decompose as much of the solids as they can; the rest sink to the bottom forming a thick layer of septic sludge. Sludge buildup in the tank can lead to some serious problems.
The problem with too much sludge.
Septic sludge is normal for any septic tank. The aerobic bacteria aren’t able to decompose every solid waste that enters the system. This leads to layers of sludge on the tank floor. As time progresses, the sludge layer will continue to get deeper and deeper until it eventually overflows.
“If not removed, the sludge will accumulate until it eventually overflows, again clogging the soil absorption area.” ~Septic Online
Septic waste clogging the drain field prevents water from draining into the soil and filtering naturally. With nowhere to go, the water will continue to rise and flood the drainage area.
An ounce of maintenance is always best.
The sludge at the bottom of the tank will remain until pumped out and removed. How often should a tank be pumped to prevent dangerous sludge buildup? There are several ways to determine the frequency of maintenance: measuring the sludge depth with a do-it-yourself tool, estimate the depth based upon the number of people using the system, and ask the professionals. The easiest and most precise way is to have the tank pumped and ask the technician when it will need to be done next.
Keeping the sludge down with added bacteria.
The best way to keep septic sludge under control between cleanings is to use a bacterial additive in the tank. Bacterial additives give the tanks a healthy dose of extra aerobic bacteria that decompose solid wastes. The hard-working bacteria prevent sludge levels from rising too quickly and causing problems.
Contact us for more information about preventing sludge overflow and septic maintenance schedules.
Safe Disposal – Know How To Properly and Legally Dispose of Liquid Waste
Disposing of residential liquid waste safely and legally can be a challenge. Too many people attempt to deal with it themselves and end up contaminating their drinking water or poisoning their plants. If you are on the grid, then your sewer will take care of some – but not all – of your liquid waste. Here are some septic regulations to consider:
1. Never pour anything down storm sewers. Storm sewers are designed solely to carry away rainwater to prevent flooding. Nothing that goes down a storm sewer is treated for pollutants.
2. Never pour flammable liquid down the sink, toilet or drain. Believe it or not, this can cause a fire when the flammable liquid mingles with gases produced by solid sewer waste – including if you use a septic tank. You should always dispose of flammable liquid waste such as lubricants or paints by having it picked up by a disposal or recycling service. (Also, avoid using flammable liquids as much as possible).
3. Never pour oil (cooking or motor) or grease down the sink. It can block your plumbing – instead, it should be soaked up using paper towels or similar and put in the trash. Also, it will collect in your septic tank and make it need cleaning more often.
4. If you have a septic tank, then your liquid waste is separated from sludge and oil and ends up in a drain field. There should be no puddles of water in the drain field – if there are, call a professional.
If you have wastewater collected on your site, you should never try to dispose of it yourself. The temptation to leave it be or direct it into a storm drain is high. Instead, call a professional such as EarthCare to help you dispose of your liquid waste properly, safely, and legally by following septic regulations.
Avoid Winter Septic Disasters – Inspect Your Septic Tank now.
If you have a septic tank, then you know bad things can happen if it doesn’t get cared for properly. The EPA recommends that you have your septic system professionally inspected at least every three years, or every year if you have electrical float systems or pumps. You may also need to get your tank pumped. The frequency depends on your household size and how much waste you produce and can range from every year to every five years. It can also be influenced by climate – the further north you are, the more often your tank needs to be pumped.
You should get your tank inspected and any preventive maintenance done in the fall. Why? Because the last time you want to experience a septic tank emergency is in the middle of the winter when your tank is buried under 2-3 feet of snow and the ground is frozen. By checking your tank in the fall, you reduce the risk of winter septic disasters.
While you can inspect your septic tank yourself, this is not always the best idea. A professional will have a better idea of what might be going wrong, especially if your tank has complicated mechanical parts. What you should do yourself is keep an eye – or more often a nose – on your tank. Water backups and any kind of odor are an indication something is going on with your septic tank. A professional will also have the equipment needed to do a full inspection, including going into the septic tank to do an internal inspection (a task which requires breathing gear).
The inspector will check your tank for leaks, make sure it is not waterlogged, and check the condition of the tank after it has been pumped. A full professional inspection is necessary to make sure your septic tank is functioning at full capacity.
Earthcare offers residential and commercial septic tank pumping and inspection services. Contact us for more information about how we can help you avoid winter septic disasters, extend the life of your septic system, and ensure your safety.
My Grease Trap Needs Cleaning, Says the Law. How Often?
When you envisioned your business and all that it would bring to the world, you probably didn’t visualize your grease trap. It’s not the sexiest part of your business, but it’s a necessary component to keeping your establishment clean and running smoothly. And because your grease trap works hard, it needs cleaning. Regular cleaning not only prevents awful odors, damage, health hazards and rodents – it’s a public health requirement in most communities. Each community has its own standards and it’s important to know what they are. For example, if you are a restaurant owner in Ohio, you are likely required to clean at the 25% mark. Other places, such as Worcester County, MA, require cleaning at least monthly.
But is that enough? What does “the 25% mark” mean and how do you know if you’ve reached it? Local regulations will give guidelines as to how often your grease trap should be serviced, but it is your actual usage that will ultimately determine your trap cleaning needs. EarthCare can help you find out.
Not only will our highly trained technicians clean your grease interceptor, they will perform a thorough 14-point inspection with every cleaning and can help you determine your grease trap maintenance requirements. At EarthCare, our mission includes building long-term trust and satisfaction with our customers. Our technicians will take time to educate you about your grease trap so that you can save money and avoid emergencies. This will allow you to have a grease trap that performs better and lasts longer. Cleaning your grease trap has to be done. Why not choose a company with the highest standards? EarthCare team members are graduates of Wind River University – a proprietary program designed to extensively educate our team so that you get the very best in education, safety, quality, and customer service.
Maintenance is key to a successful business. Contact EarthCare to make the chore of cleaning your grease trap easier, while empowering you to keep things running clean and smooth.