Most people don’t want to know a lot about septic systems – what they are, what they do or how they work. Once its put in a sink, tub or toilet, most people generally prefer not to think about it at all. Unfortunately, if you have a residential or commercial septic system, the more you know about the ins and outs of septic system care, the better. In this case, knowledge really is empowering and it can help you save thousands of dollars in emergency repairs or replacements.
The 3 Layers
There are three layers within your septic tank that you need to know about to better understand how it all works. The first layer is known as the “scum” layer. This is the waste within your septic system that has a lighter density than water. The scum layer that forms is made primarily of waste that consists of oil and grease. Unfortunately, this type of waste cannot and will not decompose within the system. It must be emptied and removed by a professional septic service company.
The second layer is made up of wastewater. You will hear a lot about wastewater as you learn more about your septic system and how it works. The wastewater comes from the water in your home that goes down the drain when you take a shower, wash dishes, clean clothes or flush the toilet. The wastewater exits through the drainfield, minus any solid waste, and then soaks back into the flow of groundwater.
The third layer is known as the “sludge” layer. The sludge sinks to the bottom of the septic tank and is decomposed or “eaten” by the good bacteria that is in the tank. When your septic system fails, the first layer of scum and the third layer of sludge are typically what is seen coming up through drains in the home or overflows from the drainfield in your yard.
Proper Septic System Care
Residential and commercial septic system owners learn rather quickly all the rules about what is okay to put down the drain – and what isn’t. The basic “not okay” list includes fat or oils, which we now know create the “scum” layer, which is unable to breakdown and be removed from the system without professional septic service. These items clog the outlet pipe, which will eventually further damage the drainfield and entire septic system.
It is important to be aware of how much water you use. Your septic system is designed to accommodate one person for each room of your home plus one additional person, assuming a couple resides in the master bedroom. Each additional person living in your home beyond this rule of thumb, adds excess wastewater to the system, which can cause problems down the road.
Additional means of controling the amount of water used include checking for leaks on sinks and pipes, limiting the number of washloads per week and only running the dishwasher when it’s full. Try alternating days that you wash laundry versus washing dishes to prevent an overload of wastewater on the same day.
Refrain from using chemical cleaners that will make their way into your septic system. Anti-bacterial cleaners, for example, will also kill the good bacteria that gets rid of the sludge layer at the bottom of your septic tank. Diapers, feminine hygiene products, pesticides, paint and other harmful products should also be discarded elsewhere.
Making a Septic Plan
For residential and commercial owners who already have a septic system installed, it is important to work with a professional septic service provider to create a plan that will help ensure a long life for your on-site waste processing. For septic system servicing in Greenville, Rhode Island or anywhere in eastern Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts or Cape Cod, contact All-Clear Septic & Wastewater Services for professional advice. They can help you set up a preventative septic system care program that includes regular inspections and check-ups, pumping and more to keep your system in tip top shape.
For residential and commercial owners who are replacing an old septic system or are putting in a brand new structure, it also pays to make a professional septic service plan. Choosing the right location for your septic tank and drainfield can make a huge difference in performance. By working with septic system servicing in Greenville, Rhode Island to create a unique set-up that addresses your specific needs, you could eliminate future costs for septic system care and repair.
Tips for a Healthy Septic System
Location is extremely important for a septic system. Check around your property to ensure that your current or future set-up will consider the following key points:
Keep all septic system components within a minimum of 20 feet from trees to prevent roots from puncturing or cracking the equipment. A professional septic service can help you find the best location for a new system and help you remove trees and other hazards from your current set-up.
Never place concrete or asphalt over top of your tank or drainfield. The weight could cause the tank to crack and nothing should ever be placed over your drainfield – even temporarily. The only thing that should grow over your drainfield is grass, which is recommended to prevent erosion of the soil, or other short-rooted vegetation. To make sure you choose plants that are drainfield approved, check with your professional septic service for advice.
Make sure that the hatch for your septic system is easy to access. This will aid in inspections, check-ups and occasions when the tank needs to be pumped and emptied. This is why it is important to consult with a professional at all stages of repair, installation and service. Never try to service your septic system on your own.
For more information about professional septic service, preventative maintenance programs and other septic related services, contact All-Clear Septic & Wastewater Services. Located in Acushnet, Massachusetts, All-Clear services customers in eastern Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts and on out to the Cape. All-Clear is licensed to perform inspections, including the Rhode Island town inspection and Massachusetts Title V inspection.