If you have found your way to this page, odds are there is something wrong with your system.
Generally, people ignore their "septic" system. The adage out-of-sight, out-of-mind often holds true. Many people don't know how their system works and many, frankly, don't care. But knowing the basics can help avoid problems.
Problems most often crop up first in the disposal field. You might notice that it is wet, or maybe soggy - even if there hasn't been rain in awhile. What can cause this?
Problem: Soggy Disposal Fields
This can actually be caused by many things. But the main thing you know is that it appears there is too much water in the field. This could be due to too much hydraulic loading, which is the Engineer's way of saying you're putting too much water into the system, either through the appliances in the home, or you've got a leak in your piping and water is getting into the tank.
First, check to make sure you don't have a leaking toilet or faucet. If so, fix it quick, and the field might dry out.
Next, look at your tank to make sure this is no evidence of settling around it, which can crack pipes. Lacking that, dig up the inlet and outlet of the tank and make sure they are sealed.
Now we get into the hard part. Let's say you have no leaks in the system, and no unusual flows of water into the system. They're all supposed to work with anything, as long as you keep it below a certain number of gallons, right?
Wrong. If you biologically have overloaded your system, you can cause the system to fail. Your OSSF system is based on water flow and the amount of "food" you give it. The bacteria in the system can only digest so much food, so fast. If you "feed" it too much, the excess food will flow downstream in your system, and ultimately out into your disposal area. If you have a ground disposal system (pipes or tubing in the ground), this extra food will be pushed out the pipes into the soil or, worse, clog your delivery system.
When your system was designed, someone came out to the site to see what "kind" of dirt you had. Some dirts are more porous than others, and can pass water and air better. These soils have a greater ability to absorb a higher quantity of not only water, but a higher quantity of food (waste). However, if you "flood" the soil with too much water, the bacteria in the soil can't breathe, and the soil clogs up and the effluent bubbles up to the surface and makes wet spots. This will also happen if too much food keeps going to the field before it can digest. Same result.
So, it is important to "cut back" the "food" going through your system, known as the organic load. How is the easiest way to do this? Make sure you don't use a garbage disposal (compost, instead). Next, make sure you aren't putting any fats, oils, or greases down the drain. Make sure you aren't using any oil-based products like hand lotions, hand cleaners, etc.
Make sure you do not use anything harmfull to the bacteria in your system. This inludes drain products, harsh cleaners, wax strippers, etc. Do not dump any chemicals down your drain!!!! This includes old medicines, too.
Be sure not to use liquid fabric softener. There is no easy way for the process to digest it, and it simply moves through the system to the field, causing field clogging, either through the delivery system and/or the dirt itself. If the system can't recover due to damage, you may have to replace the field, which can be very expensive.
These are just a few guidelines.
If your system needs to be pumped out, you need to find out why you had to pump it. Systems do require periodic removal of solids, but they should otherwise work well. If they do not, you need to hire someone to come take a look as to what is wrong.
If you having a failing field, and it is wet, you're going to have to get it to dry out. This does not mean putting dirt on it. You have to find out the cause of the problem, then fix the problem.
For Aerobic Users
Aerobic systems have the primary biologic process occuring in the tank. If you have too high of peak flows, you will upset the process. This means don't do all of your laundry on one day, as you will overload the system. This also means trying to balance out your organic load.
Most houses use a "cookbook" design that only meets the State minimums. Unfortunately, many systems have the system overloaded by the Owner, often without realizing it. Many owners were never given operating guidelines of "do's" and "don'ts".
The same guidelines, above, also apply.
If you have an "alarm condition", be sure to contact your maintenance provider for the system, so you don't damage something.
Be sure to keep fire-ants away from the control panel and compressor.
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