A properly functioning septic system is crucial for any home or business that does not utilize a municipal sewer system. These on-site septic processing systems must treat all of the wastewater that comes from the home’s toilets, sinks, showers, and laundry.
However, maintaining the perfect balance in a septic system requires the home- or business owners to take certain steps to ensure that issues do not arise:
Septic Tank Pumping
Septic tank pumping is recommended every three to five years, depending on factors like the size of the home, the number of residents, and the size of the tank.
A drainfield inspection can be done at the time of a septic tank pumping to ensure that the leach field does not appear to have potential issues.
In addition to professional septic services, it is important to prevent future problems by taking proper care of this most important system. This means:
- Do not flush anything other than waste and toilet paper. This includes diapers, wipes, feminine hygiene products, condoms, and cigarette butts.
- Use the garbage disposal properly by not grinding fibrous materials or anything else that can lead to clogs.
- Dispose of prescription and over the counter medications elsewhere; do not flush them down the toilet or sink.
- Limit the use of antibacterial products that can kill the vital bacteria in the septic tank.
- Avoid flushing harsh household cleaning products or chemicals.
- Spread out the load on the system by doing laundry throughout the week rather than all at once.
- Do not park or drive on the drainfield, septic tank, or septic pipes.
- Grow only smaller plants near the septic tank and drainfield to avoid problems caused by roots.
When Your Septic System Needs Help
Even properly maintained septic systems sometimes develop problems. Given its importance in maintaining the health and safety of people and property, it is important to get any septic issues resolved quickly. Here are some signs of septic problems that need to be addressed:
- Gurgling pipes when you run water in sinks, tubs, or showers, or when you flush the toilet.
- Foul odors in the home or yard can indicate that raw sewage has seeped out of the tank or pipes.
- Water draining slowly in sinks, tubs, showers, or washing machines can be caused by clogs or a full septic tank.
- Wastewater backing up into the home could be a sign of clogged pipes or the first system of a drainfield that is failing.
- Standing water in the yard that is not the result of precipitation or irrigation might be caused by a septic tank that was unable to keep up with the demand.
- Lush growth above the septic tank suggests that excessive nutrients and water are leaking out of the system.
Drainfield issues can also be a cause for serious concern. These can be especially challenging to diagnose, so it is always recommended to have a certified septic system professional do an inspection to assess the issue and suggest a resolution.
One problem that drainfields sometimes have is called “grease capping.” This occurs when grease is introduced into the septic system. Because the grease is water soluble, it can move through the system into the drainfield, where it can ultimately build up and harden. This prevents oxygen from reaching the bio-mat, which is a permeable layer that forms around the trenches in the drainfield where the effluent gets discharged.
The bio-mat is also sometimes referred to as the “slime layer,” clogging mat, clogging zone, biocrust, or bioformat. It forms along the bottom and sidewalls of the drainfield, and reduces the infiltration of wastewater into the surrounding soils. Bio-Sol further notes that the biomat is important in preventing the pollution of groundwater and other nearby water sources with partially treated effluent.
Grease capping can be a serious issue, but a professional septic and drainfield contractor may be able to use septic system additives to resolve the issue. This septic additive would be a blend of grease-eating bacteria and enzymes that help restore the bio-mat to proper functioning.
A Note on Septic Tank Additives
A quick Internet search for “septic tank bacteria additive” will yield hundreds, if not thousands, of results. It is important to be aware that these additives are not the same as the septic system additives mentioned above that are used by septic system professionals.
Most septic additives that are commercially available advertise that they can help the septic tank bacteria to thrive, but a properly designed and functioning system does not need help. By design, the system should be able to handle all the wastewater without the need for outside assistance.
In fact, some septic tank additives can be harmful enough that they have caused septic system failures. Some states have even banned septic tank additives, and the US Department of Environmental Protection warns against the use of them in its informational brochure called, “Do your Part – Be SepticSmart!” The brochure notes that the microbes needed to break down the pollutants in wastewater are already present in septic tanks. Rather than septic tank additives that may not work and could cause harm, the EPA says that the only way to ensure that your septic system continues to work properly is periodic septic tank pumping.
Septic and Drainfield Service in and Near Lakeland, FL
For all your septic, drainfield, and lift station services in central Florida, contact Septic and Drainfield Depot. We are a licensed and fully insured septic contractor in the state of Florida, and our experienced professionals are up to date on the latest industry knowledge and techniques.
Recognizing that septic system work can be unexpected and costly, we offer septic system financing that allows you to break the cost of septic work into predictable and affordable monthly payments without tapping into your home’s equity.
Our services are available 24/7 in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Plant City, Polk City, and throughout central Florida. Contact us today for a free estimate.