FAQ’S & GENERAL QUESTIONS
A properly maintained septic system poses no threat to ground water. However, a failing system can be harmful as wastewater can include many types of contaminants.
There are regulations that require the septic system to be certain distances from water wells, streams, lakes, and houses. These are horizontal separation distances.
In order to remove contaminants effectively, the absorption field must also be adequately separated from the ground water. This is the vertical distance.
Both distances are specified by local regulations, visit the Central District Health Departments information links below:
- Home owners can call Central District Health for Ada, Boise, Elmore or Valley County or Southwest District Health for Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette or Washington County to locate records concerning the septic system on their property. They can give directions for location and often can provide a map of the location as well.
- Generally there is a cleanout pipe coming from the house to the septic tank. If this pipe can be located, the septic tank is usually located about 10 feet straight out from where the pipe exits the house.
- The lid to the septic tank is usually 6-12 inches below the ground, but can be as deep as 3 feet. The lid needed for septic pumping is about the size of a trash can lid. The smaller lid cannot be effectively used to pump the tank and do a proper inspection.
The rule of thumb is that a tree’s roots are as wide as the tree’s canopy (branch spread). But this doesn’t account for all species of trees, or the depth of the roots. When it comes to a septic system, it is best to only have grass planted above and around the system. Shallow rooted plants, small shrubs and flowers usually can be safely planted near and above the system.
Trees really should be avoided. A weeping willow tree, or other species that really have a massive root system should NEVER be planted ANYWHERE near a septic system!
- Conserve water and fix leaks and drips.
- If you replace old fixtures install new “low flow” types.
- Do not overload the system; this is the primary cause of system failures.
- Early morning and bedtime are peak water use times in the bathroom. Run dishwashers and washing machines at other times of the day.
- Don’t do all the family laundry in one day.
- Do not use a garbage disposal or dump coffee grounds in the sink.
- Increasing the level of solids into the tank decreases the capacity and shortens the interval between pumping.
- Do not pour fats and oils down the drain which can clog your septic tank pipes.
- Put paper towels, tissue, cigarette butts, disposable diapers, feminine products and other material in a trash can; not in the toilet.
- Use moderate amounts of detergents, bleaches, drain cleaners, household cleaners and other products.
- Avoid dumping solvents like dry cleaning fluid, pesticides, photographic chemicals, and paint thinner or auto products down the drain.
Have your septic tank pumped out every 3-5 years (depending on the number of people in the household) or when the total depth of sludge and scum exceeds one-third of the liquid depth of the tank. As depth of sludge and scum might be hard for most homeowners to assess, a general rule of thumb recommended by EPA is that homeowners have their septic system inspected by a qualified professional at least every three years along with pumping a 1000 gallon septic tank once every 3.7 years in a household of 3 people and once every 1.5 years in a household of 6 people. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components need to be inspected more often, generally once a year.
For more detailed information concerning special conditions in your area, contact your local health department.
Protect yourself, your family, your neighborhood and your investment by finding out answers before it becomes an emergency. Contact us today to have us service your septic system.
Copper sulfate can be used to kill the tree roots, but there is nothing that will remove them from the septic tank other than manual removal. This usually requires uncovering the whole tank, removing the top, and digging them out with a backhoe. If you think you have a tree root problem call ABC Pumping Services at (208) 954-5339.
There are many different types of septic systems that fit a wide range of soil and site conditions. The following will help you understand the main components to keep it operating safely:
A standard septic tank system has four main parts:
- The Pipe coming from the home which connects to the septic tank.
- The Septic Tank — A septic tank’s purpose is to separate solids from the wastewater, store and partially decompose as much solid material as possible, while allowing the liquid (or effluent) to go to the drain field. Septic tanks are made of concrete, fiberglass or plastic. They are usually buried and watertight and are designed to hold a minimum of 750-1500 gallons of sewage. Their purpose is to temporarily hold the waste water as solids and liquids separate.
- The Drain field — After solids settle in the septic tank, the liquid wastewater (or effluent) is discharged to the drain field, also known as an absorption or leach field.
- The Soil — The soil below the drain field provides the final treatment and disposal of the septic tank effluent. After the wastewater has passed into the soil, organisms in the soil treat the effluent before it percolates downward and outward, eventually entering ground or surface water. The type of soil also impacts the effectiveness of the drain field; for instance, clay soils may be too tight to allow much wastewater to pass through and gravelly soil may be too coarse to provide much treatment.
The most obvious septic system failures are easy to spot.
- Check for pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement.
- Greener grass in the area of the septic system
- Sluggish drainage in the home
- Plumbing backups when you flush the toilet or do laundry
- Water coming up through the lower house level floor drains
- Gurgling sounds in the toilet or drains
- Odors – Outdoors or in the home
These problems are most noticeable when you use a lot of water, like on laundry day. That’s why it’s imperative that you space your laundry loads and conserve water! Short showers, never leaving water run down a drain while washing dishes, full wash loads only (or adjusting the water level for a small load), and never doing back to back loads of laundry will all help conserve water, and therefore the amount of wastewater going into the system. There are several sources of water going into the system.
A septic system is a small scale waste management system that is used in areas where there are no connections to main sewage pipes provided by local governments or private corporations. The system is built specifically for one house and uses bacteria in the soil to treat small waste water flows.
Most toilet papers on the market (if used in moderate amounts) can safely be used in a septic system. Toilet paper breaks down very easily and quickly, and that’s the important part. However, facial tissue (Kleenex) and paper towels DO NOT break down easily, and should never be flushed down a toilet.
Septic tank inspection may be required by lenders when you sell or refinance your home. The repair of a failing system is usually a cost to the seller and should not be ignored.
Contact us to purchase, install, pump, repair, maintain and replace your septic system.
Usually odor inside a house is caused from a dry drain. Each drain in your house has a trap associated with it. The trap is the U-shaped pipe you see under your kitchen sink. The purpose of this pipe is to keep the gases from your septic system from being able to come back inside the house. The trap works because water sits in that U-shaped section of pipe, and therefore the gases can’t get back up through the drain.
However, if the water in that trap should ever dry up, then the gases are able to escape. The water evaporates out of these traps if they aren’t used for a period of time. Usually it’s an unused guest bathroom, or basement shower stall, or some fixture that just isn’t used very regularly.
The solution, add water to the drain!
This odor emanates from the vent stack on the roof. Each drain in your house has a vent stack associated with it which is the small pipe(s) you see sticking out of your roof. These pipes are designed to vent the gases from the septic system out through the roof. They also help with the drainage of wastewater through the plumbing system, keeping air-locks from forming.
Depending on where the vent pipe comes out of the roof, the height of the pipe, the height and shape of the roof, and the direction and speed of wind, the gases could wind up back down on your patio due to a downdraft.
Odors could also be coming from the foundation vents for the crawl space if there is septic seepage from the sewer pipes before leaving the house to the septic tank.
The drain field is the last part of the mini wastewater treatment facility of your home. This is where the purification of the effluent takes place for it to be used again as it reaches the groundwater. So it is very important to have the drain field cleaned and cleared.
Drain fields are highly affected by too much accumulated solid waste materials in the tank. This happens when the sludge isn’t digested well because the bacterial population is depleted, the tank has not been pumped regularly or because too much water is loaded into the septic system stirring up solidified wastes and carrying them out into the drain field. If the fats, oils and grease reach the drain field, clogging will occur. In the septic tank, only about 50 percent of solids are broken down by bacteria, the rest accumulates in the bottom of the tank until it is pumped out. Over time the solids will build up. The time it takes for this to happen depends mostly on the household size, but also septic tank size. Having too many solids accumulated, and too much water entering the tank at once can cause the solids to be flushed out into the drain field where it can clog it.
Once this happens, if not remedied quickly, it is inevitable that the rest of the septic system will fail. You really have to pay attention to your drain field to ensure that you have a smooth flowing system and that the solids are properly digested before they head out to the drain field.
A properly designed septic system handles a specific amount of wastewater which is determined by how many people are living in the house. As a rule of thumb, the number of people per household is calculated by the number of bedrooms – figuring two people per bedroom. If a household overloads a system by using way too much water each day, the drain lines never have time to dry out.
When a drain field is constantly saturated, a bacterial mat called a “bio-mat” forms along the trench walls. This slimy mat doesn’t allow water to seep through it, and therefore the trenches no longer can handle the wastewater.
Simply pumping out the septic tank at this point will not restore the system. At this point it will require either one of the drain field repair services that we offer or a new drain field depending on the severity of the problem.
- Caustic soda for drain field repair
- Terralift for drain field repair and rejuvenation
We believe it is important to support organizations and companies working to make a positive impact in our industry and community. We pride ourselves on using the best products, from proven vendors, and reputable practices to grow as a business focused on providing premium service. The Honest and Ethical Service that we provide wouldn’t be possible without the Industry Partners and Client Relationships we’ve been fostering across Southern Idaho, since 1948.
Thank you for being a part of our growth and trusting ABC Septic with your pumping challenges.