All Clear Septic

Septic System Basics

A septic system can be a huge financial investment, however if it is properly designed, installed and maintained, it will provide you with years of low-cost and reliable service. A system that is not well-built or maintained can end up costing property owners thousands of dollars to repair or replace when it ultimately fails. By understanding how septic systems work and what is required to properly care for them, homeowners can increase their longevity.

Primary Components

While there are different types of septic systems used throughout the country based upon soil types, site conditions and usage requirements, the gravity fed system is the most common and is considered to be the industry standard. This section will feature information on the basic components included in a standard gravity fed system and what you can expect to find.

  The Septic Tank – Made from fiberglass, concrete or polyethylene, most septic tanks are quite large and are made in either a cylinder or rectangular shape. Buried underground, the purpose of the septic tank is to separate solid waste from wastewater. It then stores and decomposes the solid material before allowing the wastewater to flow into the drainfield. Approximately 50% of solid waste products remain in the tank and must be pumped according to the size of the tank, the number of people using the property’s facilities and overall daily water flow, which is usually about every 3 years on average.

To improve accessibility and the ability for pumping, cleaning and repairs, your septic tank should have a cover that is accessible for inspection and evaluation. Septic services used to have to spend time digging down to the access covers to complete their work, however most septic systems today are supported by secure risers, making it easier to get the job done.

The Drainfield – Once the septic tank does its job by separating the solid waste from the wastewater, the liquid makes its way to the drainfield, which is essentially a network of pipes that are laid in beds of gravel. The pipes are perforated to allow the wastewater to flow through them and down into the soils underneath the drainfield, which is also sometimes called an absorption field or leachfield. How septic systems work is to allow the wastewater to flow first through a distribution box before moving to the drainfield. This helps to more equally disburse the liquid wastewater, which is known as effluent, among the gravel beds where the final steps of sewage treatment take place.

Once the wastewater makes its way through the perforated pipes, down through the gravel layer and down into the soil, it is passed through tiny pore spaces where it is treated by soil microbes before entering the groundwater. This part of the process takes place several feet below the drainfield itself and should be dry, full of oxygen and permeable. Your drainfield should be located on the back side of your property and the size of it depends upon the volume of wastewater flow and the conditions relevant to your local soil.

The Soil – Believe it or not, the soil that is located below the drainfield is where the real filtering magic happens. It provides the final treatment and disposal process for the wastewater that came from your home through your septic tank. Naturally-occurring organisms in the soil treat the liquid wastewater as it passes through, percolating downward and outward before it reaches surface or groundwater.

Obviously the type of soil used here will greatly influence the effect of the drainfield in this process and it must be chosen carefully. Soils that are clay-based are often too dense and tight to allow for proper passage of wastewater, while soil that contains too much gravel might be too coarse to allow for proper filtering and treatment.

Basic Maintenance

The best way to ensure that your septic system is working properly is to contact a local septic service, such as All-Clear Septic & Wastewater located in Acushnet, Massachusetts. They service residential and commercial customers in New Bedford, Fairhaven, Dartmouth, Westport, Fall River, Mattapoisett and all throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. You can ask for a Confidential Voluntary Assessment of your septic system to properly evaluate your equipment and determine the viability of your system, or you can start on a Preventative Maintenance Program that will keep your system working properly through regular monitoring, cleaning and pumping.

Knowing the do’s and don’ts of septic system ownership with regard to biodegradable items that are OK to flush or put down the drains versus non-biodegradable items that can be dangerous for your system is very important. Water conservation, knowledge about garbage disposals, water softeners, cleaning fluids, chemicals and other things that can affect the balance of your septic system is also beneficial. Call All-Clear at 508-763-4431 for information on what you can do to help keep your septic system running clean and clear.

septic inspections

Water is the Key to Protecting Your Investment

Water is one of the most important things to us here on Planet Earth. Not only does it support life in many forms, but it is also instrumental to our environment in a number of distinct ways. However, when it comes to the proper care of your septic system, water can quickly become the enemy if you don’t understand the role it plays in proper sewage treatment. Excessive water can cause your septic system to fail.

How It Works

A typical septic system has three primary parts, which include the septic tank, the drainfield and the soil. The purpose of the tank is to separate the solid waste from the wastewater, store that waste and then partially decompose it as much as possible. The liquid wastewater, which comes from your laundry, kitchen, bath and toilet, flows into the tank and can stay there for as long as 24-hours before passing on into the drainfield.

This 24-hour time period, which is known as “retention” time, is necessary to allow the solids to properly separate from the liquids in a “sludge” layer and allow lighter particles to float to the top in a “scum” layer. This process works to prevent the drainfield from becoming clogged.

However, if too much water flows into the system from excessive use, the soil under the septic system will not be able absorb all of the water that is used in the home and the rush of wastewater won’t provide enough retention time for the sludge and scum layers to separate. Water conservation is key to prevent the risk of this type of system failure.

Septic System Water Conservation

Getting your family to reduce the amount of water used might sound like a daunting task, but with a little bit of education, preventative maintenance, the installation of a few basic tools and determination on your part, it will all soon become second nature.

Step One – Fix ALL leaks in your home immediately: a slow-dripping faucet can waste as much as 70 gallons of water per year.

Tip: Check for a toilet leak by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. Watch to see if the color appears in the bowl. Leaky toilets can waste over 50 gallons of water a day!

Step Two – Install water-saving shower heads, taps and toilets, which can save as much as 12 gallons, 5 gallons and up to 25 gallons respectively, per person each day.

Tip: If you can’t afford to replace your toilets, add a displacement device to your tank, which can save you between 3-25 gallons per person each day.

Step Three – Change the way you do laundry: only do a full load, which will save 20 gallons of water per load, and never use your washing machine and dishwasher at the same time.

Tip: Instead of washing 4 loads of laundry on a Saturday, try spreading out your laundry over a 2-3 day period, only doing 1 or 2 loads each day.

Step Four – Plan ahead: if you are having a party or expecting guests, reduce your water usage a few days before they arrive for adequate septic system water conservation.

Tip: Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator to save water wasted by letting the tap run while waiting for the water to get cold.

Step Five – Divert other waste water from your septic system, such as roof drains, as well as water from hot tubs and water softeners.

Tip: Speak to your All-Clear technician about creating a drywell for your water softener system, which is required by Massachusetts law.

When Should I Call a Professional?

Odors, wet spots, standing liquid and even sewage could surface or appear in the area of your drainfield. Fixtures will drain slowly, you might hear gurgling sounds in your pipes and your plumbing could backup. If any of these conditions occur, you should call a professional septic service to address these issues before they worsen.

Professional Consultations

Call All-Clear Septic & Wastewater for a professional consultation and evaluation of your current septic system. Additional features and upgrades can be added, such as effluent filters and drywells, which can enhance the performance of your septic system and keep it running effectively and efficiently. Contact us at 508-763-4431 and make sure to ask about our Preventative Maintenance Program, which is available for all types of septic systems.We are also available 24/7 in the event of emergency septic system services.