Young Septic Systems Fail, Too
Anyone who has a septic system has heard more than once what not to flush. We have been instructed on what we should use for laundry detergent and household cleaning needs, as well. However, we shop and examine packaging, searching for the words “flushable” or “septic system safe”. The packaging says it. It must be true. Let me put things in perspective for you…. “Septic safe” is relative to what is normal.
- It is normal to replace your septic system on a national average of 20 years.
- It is normal for “anaerobic” septic systems to fail. Therefore, if your goal is to meet, and not exceed a 20 year life span for your septic system, go ahead. Flush disposable wipes and other substances that do not belong in the septic system.
Flush-able? Take a second look at that first word in this paragraph. It is “able” to be flushed through the trap of a toilet. “Abel” is relative to what you want to accomplish. If you flush wipes and other “bio-degradable” materials that do not break down quickly, your septic tank will fill up with these solids. These materials may even make their way to the distribution box. This will kill a drain field. Septic system safe? Depends on how often you dispose of it and how often your tank is pumped. Your septic system is capable of lasting the life of the house. You just have to know how to get it there. That would be with proper care and aerobic bacterial generation.
The photo above was taken after a 13 year old septic tank was pumped down and a period of one week’s time had elapsed. At the taking of this photo, the center cover to the septic tank was unearthed for the first time since it was placed on the tank, 13 years earlier. The septic system was not able to be properly maintained according to traditional anaerobic septic system needs because the tank had only been pumped out via the outlet side of the tank. The center of the tank is where a pumping company will have the best reach to the tank. However, entire tank had never been completely accessible and was not accessible during pumping. This means, solids have been forming a scum and sludge layer, taking up space in the tank and overwhelming the anaerobic septic system’s (poor) ability to break down solids, even more so than it would if the tank had been pumped on a regular basis.
What you see in the photo above is a solid scum layer about 4″-5″ thick. The black discoloration of the scum is characteristic of a septic tank that is overtaken by bio-mat.
After the riser had been installed, it was necessary to break up the scum layer in order to lower the Piranha P-60 into the tank. Looking closely, you can see flushable wipes, imbedded in the scum layer. When the P-60 has had time to digest the scum, the tank will need to be pumped, once again to clean it from all of the wipes and indigestible solids that have been imbedded in the scum. Notice how the dirt remains dry and afloat on top of the scum.
The home owner had access to the outlet side of the tank. Since the top of the tank is four feet in the ground, the tank was difficult to pump from just the outlet side. Also, there was no real indication of how bad years of wipes being flushed into the tank was making the performance of the septic system due to the baffles holding the wipes back, until the leach field failed.
What Not to Put in Your Septic System.
- Do not flush anything that will not break apart in the turbulence of flushing a toilet.
- Do not allow vinegar to be poured down a drain.
- Do not use chlorine or bleach products.
- Do not use anything with Oxy Clean (Aerobic systems are exempt from this rule)
- Do not use hand sanitizing soaps.
- Do your best to limit grease and oils from entering the septic tank. (There is no Environmental Protection Agency approved method of removing grease from a leach field once it has settled there).
What is Safe to Allow in Your Septic System.
- Clorox Green is made of coco-nut oil, specifically formulated for septic systems. (Most products which are labeled as organic, eco friendly or environmentally safe can be introduced into your septic system, keeping in mind, you must count counter balance your septic systems’s bacteria with what is opposite of how your system functions. ) If your septic system is anaerobic, do not introduce products which will promote the presence of oxygen.
- Borax laundry detergent is a natural mineral that will not harm the bacteria in a septic tank.
- Soft-Soap should replace any alcohol based, anti-bacterial soaps.
- Scotts Toilet Tissue breaks apart pretty quickly in the flushing action of a toilet.
- Promote bacterial growth by aerating the septic system and adding aerobes.
- Place your laundry drain line on a separate septic system or dry well.
Anchor Sewer and Drain Cleaning will consult with you over the phone. If in S.E. Massachusetts or Rhode Island, we will do a site visit and give you a free estimate for converting your septic system from anaerobic to aerobic bacteria.