Septic maintenance

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  #1  
Old 08-14-18, 04:32 PM
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Septic maintenance

For those of you who have septic systems, how often do you clean them out ? And how do you know it is time ? About 10 months ago we dumped in a gallon or so of enzymes to help things along. What do you use ? I was reading this morning that Clorox toilet cleaner w/ bleach is septic safe. What do you use ? Thanks.
 
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Old 08-14-18, 04:46 PM
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There are many things that are called "septic safe". They can be septic safe if used in very small quantities. I've never considered bleach as septic friendly as it kills off enzymes.

I no longer have a septic so I'm sure others will chime in here.
 
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Old 08-14-18, 04:58 PM
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We have had two separate septic systems since 1988. First one used a bacteria stick, an oxygen pump and bamboo in the leach field. Worked great....but that is the exception.

We got here in 2006 and house was built in 1993. 1000 gallon tank, conventional system. We are a family of two and it is generally thought to have a pumper in every 5 years. We have done this 3 times in 12 years. Pumpers say we are doing well as the scum on top is pink and filters are not clogged.

We add in a monthly dose of bacteria/enzymes (maybe $2 a month)....as bleach in washing machine plus other dishwasher/toilet chemicals would tend to hurt digesting bacteria.

I think a monthly dose of tequila would be helpful for your system...
 
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Old 08-14-18, 05:15 PM
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There is no scheduled maintenance required.

In the bathrooms nothing but pee, poop and white toilet paper.

In the kitchen, no grease, fat or meat.

A grinder is acceptable as long as it's used in moderation, dont put down 10 pounds of watermelon rinds.

No additives, no enzymes and pump out based on your septic haulers recommendations based on the number of people in the house!

Simple!!

I think a monthly dose of tequila would be helpful for your system
I cant disagree but think a weekly dose does me better!!!!
 
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Old 08-14-18, 05:26 PM
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I might throw in some cheap jug wine, but not any decent tequila :-)

We also are a family of two (well and 5 indoor cats).

About two years ago we dug up 3/4 of our septic system when we were getting odors in the house. Turns out there was a run of perhaps 60 ft or so of crappy 4" PVC which had collapsed over the years. It took maybe a week to actually locate the tube as it bore no resemblance to the blueprints we were given when we bought the house,

That 4" tube led to two daisy chained plastic tanks (perhaps 1100 liters). The first tank was filled with solid material (actually it may have been mud). And the second tank was virtually empty since the PVC tube connecting the two tanks was no longer connecting the two tanks. So I'm guessing one tank was for collecting waste and the other for fermentation of some sort ?

From the second tank there was a concrete tube which led to an underground chamber about 15' square and about 15' deep. (I'm guessing that is our leach field) and that was bone dry. Which kind of makes sense - IF (as they blue prints suggest) we have 'black' water and 'white' water lines leaving the house. It would seem that our 'white' water waste does not go into the 'leach field'.
 
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Old 08-15-18, 03:03 AM
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Originally Posted by lhpdiver
For those of you who have septic systems, how often do you clean them out ? And how do you know it is time ? About 10 months ago we dumped in a gallon or so of enzymes to help things along. What do you use ? I was reading this morning that Clorox toilet cleaner w/ bleach is septic safe. What do you use ? Thanks.

Eh, (speaking as a long time Realtor who once had a septic installer certification); here are the best analogies:

A) the septic tank is your compost pile, the leachfield is your flower garden.
Don't put anything into the septic tank that you wouldn't put into a compost bin,
that means no grease, no harsh chemicals. Most chemicals are "used up" in the cleaning process, and so are no longer "harsh" but they should still be diluted.

B) the septic tank is basically a goldfish bowl. You have to clean it out every now and then. Don't pour anything down the drain that you wouldn't pour into a fishtank.

C) "Enzyme" mixes are usually just bulk baker's yeast sold at a 1,000% markup.
https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/...-additives.pdf
If you have a seasonal hunting cabin where the septic tank is unused for 6 months, they may help to get the bacterial culture going after it has died. Otherwise, adding "enzyme mix" to a septic tank is like buying "special $1 camping matches" and tossing them into a roaring campfire "to keep the fire going".
 
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Old 08-15-18, 03:28 AM
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My grandfather always poured a packet of yeast into his septic system each month. I do the same although I forget about half the time. IMO the main thing is to limit the amount of detergents that enter the system and personally I wouldn't have a garbage disposal on a septic system.

Here if you have a gray water system it bypasses the main tank and usually has it's own drain field.
 
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Old 08-18-18, 03:25 PM
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What is the consensus on root killers? I am about to put in a new system and there are a fair amount of trees around my field.
 
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Old 08-19-18, 02:14 AM
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Best advice is keep the trees away!
 
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Old 08-19-18, 03:42 AM
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Ya, I'd be removing any trees that are expected to become an issue!
 
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Old 08-19-18, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by forgewelder
". . . there are a fair amount of trees around my field . . ."
I have well over an acre devoted to my absorption area; allowing a 50 to 75 foot buffer on each side, but a large White Pine (45" diameter) still aggressively sends out runners over 100' to try and infiltrate my drainage lines:
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I suppose it depends upon what a fair amount is and what species of trees they are and how close you mean when you say "around".
 
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Old 08-19-18, 07:40 AM
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I have Four old growth apple trees and 3 pear trees that would be in between the lines in the leach field. Like right in the middle of it. The septic contractor said they didn't need to come down. But that may have been more of a CAN stay, not a SHOULD stay. I sorta thought the tree might help me drink up all the moisture coming out of our septic. Through some root killer in the toilet once a month and happy living. Maybe that's a little far fetched.
 
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Old 08-19-18, 08:27 AM
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How about copper granules added thru a distribution box.....not thru a toilet or sink drain ?
 
  #14  
Old 08-19-18, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by forgewelder
What is the consensus on root killers? I am about to put in a new system and there are a fair amount of trees around my field.
That really depends on what type of soil you have, and how much water you need to get rid of. A good sized willow tree or cottonwood tree will evapotranspirate around 150-300-500 gallons of water per day out of the shallow groundwater.

Example, southeast Pennsylvania has a wide band of shale and mudstone, the soils often don't pass a perk test, so you see LOTS of sandmounds.

Years ago, as a Realtor, I had a Seller with a house that had a classic in ground sewer system in the lower-middle portion of the front yard. The lowest part of the front lawn was a thicket of weeping willows, that area would puddle when it rained, then dried out quickly.
And every couple of years the owner had to run a drain snake through to clear out the roots.

Septic system was inspected and passed easily.

New owner didn't like cleaning the willow roots out, cut down all the willows. The lowest part of the yard now puddled when it rained, and took a week to dry out, ended up with standing water and cattails. New owner "fixed" that problem with the lowest spot in the yard by trucking in dirt to create a landscaped berm with flowers.

After another year, the septic system failed and new Buyer had to put in a sand mound. He of course complained to us, we asked the septic installer, who said "well, you see, the problem is that the drain field is in the lowest spot in the yard. The easiest fix would be to remove the dirt berm and plant some willows or sycamores..."
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 08-19-18 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 08-19-18, 05:33 PM
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Yes, #14 has a good answer. Willows suck up and transpire water. We had bamboo in a leach field in CA 1988 to 2006. Worked great. Lines were shallow, about 1 foot deep. Dug down once every five years and cleaned out the roots. EZ job. BTW...when we moved in, original owner had planted a willow in 1970. It died for some reason...but bamboo was also planted in 1970.
 
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Old 08-19-18, 05:38 PM
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When you say "dug down every five years" do you mean dig down to the pipes and remove all the roots? Just asking? Also, haven't heard a yes/no on the effectiveness of down the drain root killers. Plus any Idea on the absorbancy of the fruit trees that I currently have? Apples and Pears? Also, would it adversely affect the fruit?
 
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Old 08-19-18, 05:49 PM
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Setting up a schedule for pumping the septic tank is trial and error. Start with pumping the septic tank when you move in and then two years later. Have the person who pumped it give an opinion of when to pump it next.

If conditions change, like having an additional person live in the house, shorten the time to the next pumping. Then ask the person who pumped the tank for another opinion for when the next pumping should be.

If there is a problem with the septic system, as the OP has, all bets are off. Get the system fixed, then two years later pump it and ask for the opinion.
 
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Old 08-19-18, 07:43 PM
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forgewelder....yes, only one foot deep in gravel.....and only 35 linear feet of 4 inch drain line. I have heard good and bad comments on "down the drain" root killers. Jury is out, as far as I am concerned. We have fruit trees close to.... and over our leach field. I don't have a junction box to add root killer. We used copper sulfate crystals for many years in CA....and that is why, I think, bamboo and willow roots did not cause us any problems.

IDK if OP has a problem. Our pumper said if there is a pink scum on surface, when lid is opened, and out flow filter is not clogged.....all is well.
 
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