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  • Writer's pictureLisa Bea Smith

Septic Systems Can Scare the Crap Out of You!

Inspecting the Septic System!!!

Septic systems are inherently basically gross. They are, after all, very large containers of human waste. Many things can go wrong if they're not properly and regularly maintained.

Here are some of the horrible things occasionally seen. There are things that you can do to prevent them from happening to you!

1. Build-up of human waste

Assuming that “treatment chemicals” will keep the septic system clean and allowing sludge (solids…raw garbage & human waste) to build up – not keeping pumped, as needed (typically every five years or so, depending on system size and household size)

Sludge nearly up to the top of the tank!

(Note: Most systems today operate as anaerobic systems and there must be space for the “clean water” at the top.)

Lesson learned: Treatment solutions are great for ongoing maintenance of your system, but servicing of the system is still necessary.

2. Garbage, Garbage, Garbage……

Heavy garbage disposal system usage!

Garbage disposals load a septic system with raw foods and oils that can prevent anaerobic action and the septic system is unable to function, as designed.

Usage of a garbage disposal with a septic system will increase the frequency need of pumping the system.

Lesson learned: Be sparing about what you put down your garbage disposal, as well as your toilets. (Single-ply toilet paper is best for a septic system, NOT the soft thick fluffy type!)

In other words: Your septic system is a delicate system. Don’t overload it!

3. Wastewater flood

Typically, a septic tank should have a 10-inch air gap. A big green and black puddle at the end of the drain line or in the drain field (or even around the tank lid!) indicates wastewater surfacing

Lesson learned: If you notice standing water around your septic tank or drain line(s), your septic system’s not working like it should. Call a professional septic system contractor immediately.

4. DIY installations

Sometimes, homeowners will try to install their own septic systems to save money. Proper installation isn't as easy as it looks. The lateral lines must be sloped at the proper angle. Too little slope and drainage will not occur. Too much slope and the heavier components get left behind!

Lesson learned: If you have any doubts about your ability to DIY a septic system installation, call in a professional septic system contractor

5. A sinking drain field (not applicable to air pump systems)

The drain field is a critical part of the septic system, made up of "field lines," which allow wastewater to filter from the tank to a large area.

“Out of sight…out of mind”….People drive over drain field, graze horses, setup an above ground swimming pool, plant a pecan orchard....and more!

Lesson learned: Know where the drain field is and don’t drive over it, plant trees nearby, or damage it’s ability to function as intended.

6. Tank lids collapsing

Tank is not buried deep enough. Stepping on lid, there is movement.

Lesson learned: Consult a professional!

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