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Septic Tank Care

SamH

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Is there anything that should be periodically done to a septic tank besides emptying it? Ours was emptied recently and the people doing the job suggested a number of things (flushing it out, adding stuff -- I am not sure what -- to the tank). The cost was more than emptying the tank so I declined. I was just wondering if I should do domething and don't really know so I thought someone here might.

Thanks.

Sam
 

moonstone

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77,000 RCI points (Sunrise Ridge Resort, TN)
We have been using a septic system since we built a house in the country just over 20 years ago. When all our children (3) were living at home we got the septic pumped out every 5 yrs on the advise of the company that installed it. We will get it done at the 7 or 8 yr mark now that we are empty nesters. After the pump out we put a package of Septo Bac (purchased at my local Wal-Mart) into a toilet and flush 3 or 4 times in a row. The man that does the pump out says its not really necessary but it wont hurt (& its not very expensive). He also said most of the trouble he (& his company) see with septic systems is plugged weeping tiles from the 'solids' getting pushed out of the septic tank (from a lot of water put into the tank at once, ie; 4 or 5 loads of laundry in a top-loader in quick succession) and into the weeping tiles. That usually costs more than an initial installation to fix!
~Diane
 

Tom52

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My septic system was 22 years old and had never been pumped out when we did an addition to the house which required the installation of an additional septic tank in line with the existing tank. The contractor doing the work was amazed that the existing system had never been cleaned out, nor upon inspection did it need cleaned out.

The contractor said to me, "I bet you don't have a garbage disposer, that is the primary reason why septic tanks require periodic pumping." It has been 9 years since then, and still no garbage disposer and still no tank pumping.
 

barndweller

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A properly installed septic system shouldn't need to be "serviced." If you use biodegradable laundry soap (not detergent) and don't use a garbage disposal it should work for decades with no problems. Sometimes leach field lines can fill with tiny roots from nearby trees. To combat that you can put rocksalt into the lines (NOT into the tank) once in awhile. Those additives for the tank that can be purchased at the grocery store are just to promote the good bacteria that make the tank function properly. They can't hurt. Too much bacteria killing soap and food scraps is what causes problems in the tank.

Note: I am not an expert, just a long time septic tank owner.
 

JoAnn

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We've had our 6 1/2 yo system pumped out and the plumber suggested:
Do not use your garbage disposal.
Do not use Charmin' TP (we use 'septic safe' Scot)
And put Ridex OR a couple of packs of dry yeast (much cheaper) down the toilet about once a month (do it just before you leave the house for a few hours or more) to help the bacteria grow.

We had a neighbor whose system backed up and when they had it emptied they were told to NOT put paper towels down the toilet. Apparently the owners MIL would clean both bathrooms using paper towels and then throw them down the toilet! When we said 'NEVER do that' he wanted to know what to use. I said a rag that can be washed.
 

CalifasGirl

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toilet paper

I remember reading about septic-tank-safe toilet paper on another board. Someone said that Ralph's grocery brand toilet paper (Kroger's) was the best for septic tanks because it would biodegrade rapidly. The poster claimed to put several different brands of toilet paper into a glass of water to see which dissolved the fastest. Charmin is no good for the septic tank. Make sure you read the labels to see if it's septic safe.

As for additives, you want bacteria or yeast to break down the waste, so you can seed with various septic tank additives or just throw stuff down that has yeast or bacteria--yogurt, baking or brewer's yeast, soured milk, etc.

Although I have a sewage system at my house, my boyfriend's place has a septic system. He's NEVER had it pumped out because he doesn't like to use toilet paper that isn't safe for septic tanks. He also pumps his washing machine water into his garden. He doesn't use a garbage disposal since he composts his organic waste into mulch for his garden. He's very environmentally conscious, which is one reason why I love him so much. :D
 

camachinist

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I have two septic systems; one for our house and one for my shop. Neither has caused any issues in the 20+ years I've lived here. The guy who "certified" my system the last time I refinanced and needed a cert told me there were hardly any solids in the tank at all. I've used the garbage disposal since day one and don't do anything (other than abstaining from caustic cleaners and chlorine bleach in the toilets) that someone on a sewer wouldn't do.

The house system is a 1500 gallon 3 chambered tank and two 500 gallon vertical drain wells and is approximately 40 years old.

I have a RV dump on my shop system, which is about 1/3 the size of the house system, and no issues there either. Only one bath on that system, for the office, along with a couple sinks.

I guess someday they'll fail, maybe when I'm dead :D

Pat
 

northwoodsgal

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In Wisconsin we're required by law to have our septic tanks cleaned out at least once every three years. I always thought it HAD to be pumped every couple of years.

I've heard that doing a lot of laundry at a time isn't good for the septic so I try to do a load or two every day. I've also heard that dumping bleach down the drain isn't the best idea.
 

happybaby

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In 30 years we had ours pumped twice.

Use Ridex once a month and avoid powdered laundry detergents expecially Tide. Everyone has told me tide is tough on the systems both liquid and powder.

We have a garbage disposal ... no problem

I have heard to flush a cake of yeast with a can of coke. Works like the ridex and cheaper.

Get a reputable service person. The problem we had with one of our rentals after having it pumped was they knocked off a "baffle". That lets the water go out of the system into the leach bed. If those come loose then you start to have problems since the liquid can't drain properly.

Our ground is very clay-like so we dug some extra ditches for better drainage. (after inspection was passed) :eek:
Also we have the regular septic system and not the sand mound which they don't seem to work. Almost everybody in our area now is having to get the sand mounds.........much more expensive

When we built our DD place about 10 years ago the inspector kept denying our"test holes". After 3 different areas we told her keep digging , we have 20 acres. She finally approved the 4th hole :rolleyes: :wall: and she has not problems
 

PigsDad

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We had a septic system at our last house (12 years), and never had a problem. We had it pumped every 5 years, mostly as a precautionary measure. I figured the $120 it cost to pump out was cheap insurance. We did have a garbage disposal, but used it sparingly. We really didn't pay much attention to the brand of TP, but we did try to use RidX every so often.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned here yet is to not use those toilet bowl tablets you put in the tank. Those can kill off the good bacteria in your septic system.

Kurt
 

Jestjoan

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A gal I knew said they threw liver in their septic tank in a cabin in Canada!
 

Jestjoan

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Garbage disposal for septic tanks

When we had to replace our garbage disposal, we got a new type of one built for septic tanks. I think it chews the garbage finer and it does dispense some enzymes when it runs. It was expensive but has a 7 year warranty. I don't remember the details on the warranty. I'll ask DH when he returns.

What I can see underneath the sink says Septic Assist. I think it is the one below.

http://www.insinkerator.com/product/product.php?id=205&template=hhd
 
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