As a general rule of thumb, septic tanks and systems should be pumped every 3-5 years. The proper time period will depend greatly on many factors such as the age of your system, when it was last checked/pumped, whether you’ve purchased a new property with a pre-existing home/septic system, size of family etc.
Here are some basic tips to make sure that you’re taking the best care of your septic tank in between regular servicing.
- Remove your septic tank lid and D-Box (distribution box) and call Request Holdings once a year for a quick check. Many expensive problems such as cracks in tanks that allow leaking into the septic field, or crushed pipes can be spotted by regular checks once a year.
- Learn to dip the tank.Although it sounds easy to do, there are a variety of factors that need to be looked for to do a proper assessment on the tank; it’s not a matter of simply seeing how full the tank is or how high on the stick the waste is. Call Request Holdings Ltd., for a visual inspection of your tank and Mike will show you how to check for:
- sludge thickness (heavy stuff that goes to bottom)& level
- crust level (lighter stuff forms on top of sludge in tank)
- liquid level (goes through center & out into the field)
- How frequently you should test to see how thick the sludge and crust levels are and make sure that the liquid can continue to flow through the center, ensuring an even balance between all components.
Tanks are always full if the tank is sound, usually around 4 inches from top of the lid, so just lifting the lids and checking to see if the tank is full is not enough.
- Schedule annual visual inspections on the septic tank and D-Box (distribution box)
Dipping the tank and performing visual inspections are more than simply shoving the stick into the tank. It’s understanding the different levels of the various contents in each tank, what certain thicknesses mean based on the type of materials checked, size of septic tank & whether it’s got a baffle or not, as well as having an experienced eye that knows where the most common weaknesses of each tank tend to show up, allowing them to spot issues that are about to occur before they actually happen. Take a proactive, rather than a reactive (and very expensive) approach when it’s too late.
- Learn to spot the signs of deterioration of septic tanks and fields.Spotting the warning signs is really easy and can mean the difference between the costs of replacing a septic tank, vs. replacing an entire septic field, which often costs well over $10,000.00.
- Look for extremely green areas (called runs) on your lawn / septic field
- Look for unusually wet spots on your lawn and/or septic field that is inconsistent with the state of the rest of the lawn.
- Pay attention to the odour. Quite often when there are issues with the septic system the smell from the sewage will drift back up the pipes when you flush the toilet, or you’ll smell it wafting into your house through windows & doors.
- When buying or selling property, make sure you have an assessment completed on your septic system. This can profoundly affect the price of the sale/purchase and your projected budget for repairs. A really good realtor will suggest this, but don’t wait for them to do so.
- Have a flow test done on the pipe lines leading from the D-Box (distribution box) to the tank. Although a flow test does not need to be done as frequently as a visual assessment it is recommended to have one done at least every other year along with the visual assessment simply to make sure that none of the pipes are clogged or crushed somewhere that is not easily visible/accessible; and to verify that all of the material pouring through the pipes is flowing evenly. Flow tests do not take long; simply make sure the distribution box is readily available and a flow test can be done in approximately 20 minutes.
- If you’re going to put additives into your septic system, make sure they’re safe! Don’t use additives such as Draino or bleach that will kill the bacteria in your system. Bacteria are a necessary aspect of the biodegrading process that breaks down the sludge and materials contained in the septic system & help to maintain an even & consistent flow through the pipes. Draino and bleach may be effective short term solutions but in the end they will compromise your entire septic tank system and cause the very issues you’re trying to avoid. There are additives like Septonic that are safe to put into your system and are better for the water tables & environment than bleach. If you’re not sure, simply call us and we’d be happy to provide the names of 2 or 3 items you can easily purchase in any grocery store.
- Don’t put unnatural items that don’t go through your body in the toilet. Cigarette butts, feminine hygiene products like tampons, or condoms other flushable items are not really flushable, or bio degradable. Flushing these types of items will block the flow & speed up how frequently and often you will need to attend to septic issues, as well as adversely affecting the environment by leaking into surrounding water tables.
- When in doubt about what to do contact Request Holdings and ask. We are always happy to answer any questions that are not covered here, set up appointments to do visual checks on your septic tank and distribution box system.