Concrete Septic Tank Question(s)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
We have a cement or concrete septic holding tank underground and have received a few hints on what and what not to allow in it. Some have said never flush vinegar...others have said it's a good cleanser...others have said never flush salt. Grease I under- stand. I'm a born and raised city slicker new to the wonderful countryside. We have soooooo much to learn. Please give us some advise. Last week we were both sprayed head to toe...soaked... when we were checking things out. We don't want a repeat of that any time soon. Y'all have a good laugh now...We sure did... Thanks for any suggestions. Ann
-- Ann Berg (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 24, 2000
About once every 2 months, mix up 3 oz of dry yeast with warm water and a teaspoon of sugar. When it starts working good , flush it through. It helps keep the tank churning and extends period before required honey pumping. They sell products to do this, but they cost more and the active ingreident is yeast. Also, it is advised not to plant trees or food crops over the field lines used to drain the sewage flow from the tank and be sure you know the location of the tank so that you don't drive over it and go through the lid. I drove my pickup over ours when I was 17 and learned what it meant to literally be in a world of crap. :)
-- Jay Blair (email@example.com), November 24, 2000.
I have been on a septic system all my life until 2 months ago when I moved to Missouri and now I'm on a lagoon. The most important thing with a septic system is to make sure you have plenty of field line and to keep tree roots away from the field lines. Don't flush 'sanitary' products. The yeast is a good idea....don't put grease down the drain (which I wouldn't do anyway). The only time we ever had problems was when grannys zeal for planting trees got the best of her and she planted some too near the lines and the roots cause problems. If you are having the tank pumped more often than say every 3-5 years you need more field line. In 20 years my granny only had her tank pumped once. As far as vinegar being bad for them the way I cleaned my sink was baking soda and vinegar(kids love to watch it foam). I think harsh chemicals are much worse. Good luck.
-- Amanda in Mo (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 24, 2000.
As a general rule, nothing should go into a septic system which hasn't passed through the human body first. If you flush toilet paper choose a brand which readily dissolves. To test this, put some in a glass jar, add water and shake. If it disintergrates into fibers it will be OK. White preferred over colored.
The biggest cause of having to have tanks pumped are garbage disposals and washing machines. People tend to put things down a disposal they shouldn't, like chicken bones and coffee grounds, which just settle to the bottom of the tank. Each load of laundry adds dirt, which also settles, and about half the time bleach.
I'm neutral on enhancers. I suspect they cause a bacterial bloom, which cannot be sustained. The bacteria in the tank will find their own maintenance level.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (email@example.com), November 25, 2000.
In addition to the other good advice above I would add: run your clothes washer outlet into a separate wash line if your local authority permits it. Vinegar as dilute as it would be in your drains won't hurt a thing, but a big slug of hot Chlorox and detergent every day or so will do a NUMBER on a septic system. Also go light on the Comet bathtub and sink cleaner. Some folks use so much of these products they suppress the digestive action of the septic system's bacteria. All things being equal, well water is usually better than chlorinated city water for septic systems as well.
What the people mean when they say don't flush salt probably means don't wash large pool filter or desalinator cartridge backflush down the drain. Ordinary amounts of ordinary cooking salt won't hurt anything.
-- Rags (RaggedReb@aol.com), November 25, 2000.
Ann - I pumped septic tanks for a living for about six months. One thing I can say is don't neglect to pump it!! If you neglect pumping, the whole thing will clog and need to be replaced at a cost of several thousand dollars. How often should you pump? Ask locals and your septic cleaning company. It depends on several factors: size of tank, length of lines, type of soil, whether system was designed properly or not, whether it has been previously maintained or not, and the number of people in the house.
If your system is small and your family grows, or you have frequent guests (e.g., start running a bed and breakfast out of your home) then you may have to pump more frequently, expand the system, or add a compposting toilet to reduce strain on it. If your system is due to be pumped, do it BEFORE you invite 100 people over for a christmas party. Emergency calls can be very expensive.
Also, note that when the ground is saturated from rainfall, there is nowhere for the water to discharge. Normally not a problem, but backup during saturation could indicate your system is marginal or needs pumping, or you could get along just fine if you don't put a lot of water down it when the ground is saturated. Respect your systems limits. If you do nine loads of laundry and have 20 people over and the system backs up, it doesn't mean it's failing, just that you've put too great a demand on it; it can't discharge that quickly. Good Luck!
-- Bob Blessum (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 28, 2000.
We flush yogurt that has gone bad, has lots of active culture in it. We have five in our family (three teens who think they need to shower twice a day each), and have lived here three years. We have yet to have a problem. I do a great amount of laundry. I try to do the bleach stuff all in one day and then that night and the next am flush some yogurt. I have used RIDX too but it is expensive.
-- Margie Bromen (email@example.com), December 01, 2000.
Boy it sure took me a long time to find this posting. I want to thank you all for your responses. It is very much appreciated.
-- Ann (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 06, 2000.
After alot of research, I determined the only way to know when to have your septic tack pumped is to check it. There is a product called the SludgeJudge, which is a 5' clear plastic tube with a simple stop mechanism on the bottom. You drop the the tube in the tank, the stop catches, and you pull the thing out. This gives a core sample of what the tank looks like. Once the tank is about 3/4 full of sludge I have it pumped. I do use RidX after any heavy use of bleach
-- Tim Martis (email@example.com), May 31, 2001.