Protect your investment!
Follow these rules to get a long life out of your septic system. Your system may be somewhat different in design but the same rules apply.
The septic tank receives the sewage from the house sewer line.
The floatables and scum are trapped in the first compartment (primary tank) and the solids settle to the bottom.
Some preliminary breakdown of the sewage occurs in this chamber as anaerobic bacteria start digesting the solids and suspended solids. The effluent is then forced into the second (dose chamber) compartment by incoming sewage.
The treated effluent enters the dose chamber by gravity and is held here until the time dose control panel or the demand float turns the pump on. The dose chamber can behave as an equalization chamber by sending only the required amount of effluent to the treatment trenches while holding excess effluent for the next dose cycle.
The dose chamber contains the pump and effluent filter.
The effluent enters the treatment trenches via the effluent line attached to the pump in the dose chamber. It is then forced through the double H pattern to the two pairs of pvc lateral lines that have orifices placed in them. These are located in the top of the gravel layer. This ensures that the whole treatment trench receives equal amounts of the effluent to treat. This makes for a far superior treatment trench compared to gravity fed trenches or chambers.
The effluent drains down through the gravel layer to the underlying soils. The gravel layer is an oxygen rich environment. Over time good organisms buildup on the stones where they wait to digest the bad bacteria from the effluent flowing over them. The gravel also has room to store effluent if the underlying soils cannot accept it as fast as the effluent is sent to the trenches.
Under the gravel layer are the native soils. They provide the final polishing of the effluent to make sure nothing bad has escaped the rest of the treatment system. As the water runs through these soils it becomes safer to add back to the ground water.
The dose tank should be checked at a minimum of every spring. If there is more than 4” of sludge in the dose chamber that sludge should be removed. When checking the dose tank, the pump and floats should be checked for normal operation. The filter must be rinsed clean. This should be done over the primary tank side to reduce the risk of contamination.
The primary tank should be checked at this time. If there is heavy scum on the top of the working chamber, this is usually a sign of too much or the wrong type of laundry detergent. This should be removed by pump truck as required and steps taken to prevent the reoccurrence of the build up. We recommend that you do not use H.E. detergents even if you have a front load washing machine. Most clients get good results with limited amounts of regular detergents. If towels that have been washed still produce suds when rinsed again, there has been too much detergent used. If there is more than 18” of sludge at the bottom of the primary tank, it should be removed by pump truck.
When pumping the tanks it is not necessary to remove all the effluent. Make sure most of the sludge is removed and all the scum (floatables.) Leaving some product in the tank seeds the tank with good bacteria and it recovers from the pumping quicker. If needed, try to do the pumping in the spring when the warmer weather of summer will help in reestablishing the good bugs. Do not pump the tanks if the level of sludge does not warrant it. If you treat your system with respect, the tank should not need pumping.
Do not add activators or enzymes or any other products that claim to help the septic system. They are not needed and often do great harm. There are some bacteria type treatments coming on the market that may help a failing field.
The septic system is a complex biological system and as such can easily be destroyed. As a rule, nothing but human digestive byproducts and water should enter this sensitive environment. Limit detergents as much as possible. Do not use self-cleaning products in the showers or toilets even though the manufacture claims they are safe for septic systems. They are meant to sanitize the shower and the toilet and will most certainly kill the good bacteria in the tank and treatment trenches. That said, limit use of toilet bowl cleaners and if absolutely necessary, limited amounts of bleach may be used. The system will tolerate once weekly good cleanings better than daily use of small amounts.
If the house has a lot of laundry, please do some each day rather than a lot on one day. This helps equalize the flow to the treatment field.
Do not flush wipes of any kind other then normal toilet tissue down the toilet.
Do not flush dental floss, q-tips, diapers, diaper liners, fem hygiene products or prophylactics down the toilet.
Do not allow grease to enter the system. Pour off cooking greases into a separate container for disposal in a sanitary landfill or possibly as animal food. DO NOT pour it down the drain!!
Do not connect footing drains, downspout drains or water treatment systems to the sanitary system. Do not drain spas, hot tubs or swimming pools to the system.
Do not put any chemicals, wash water from painting (even latex), pharmaceuticals, tobacco products, grease or any similar type product into the system. If your body would not like it, chances are the septic system won’t like it either!
It is not unusual for a system that is treated with respect to NEVER need pumping and to last for three to six decades. You have invested a lot of money on this system and only you can control how long it will last.
The treatment field should only grow grass. No trees are permitted in the vicinity of the field or mound. Small shrubs and perennials may be planted near the treatment field. The SoP forbids the growth of edibles in the area of the treatment field due to the chance of contamination. Do not allow livestock on the treatment field. Nothing heavier then a riding mower should be on the treatment site!