Septic Systems and Cleaning Products

houseProperty owners who have septic systems have plenty of reason to be wary about dumping any chemicals into the system. While septic systems are designed to accommodate laundry products and many cleaning products when used as directed, it’s important for homeowners to understand exactly what chemicals can do to harm your septic system and what types of chemicals are, indeed, safe to use. Your septic system is a major investment, so it’s essential to understand its maintenance needs to protect it and ward off costly repairs.


Disinfectants are common household agents use to clean many areas of the home including bathrooms and toilets. These agents are formulated to kill germs and often include pine cleaners, derivatives of pine oil. Disinfectants are generally considered safe for your septic system; however, they must be carefully used in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Because only small amounts of these products are needed to clean household areas and are further diluted in water, they shouldn’t pose a threat to your system. However, you should certainly not dump a bottle of these cleaners into your system where they could destroy a significant portion of your septic systems important bacteria that are needed to break down waste.

Laundry Detergents

Laundry detergents and household cleaning products that contain surfactants are usually considered safe for septic systems. These agents degrade naturally once they get into your leach field and do not pose a threat to the environment or ground water. They may also sink to the bottom of your septic tank and will need to be clean with the other sludge that isn’t released into the drain field. It’s important, though, to have your tank cleaned routinely every two or three years in order to prevent build ups that could lead to blockages.

Drain Cleaners

Most septic tank experts will encourage homeowners to avoid these products if you have drain clog. While these products may unclog pipes within the home, you don’t want to chance too much of the cleaner getting into your system where it may continue to act. Mostly, these products will be diluted enough and not cause a problem, but using them often could lead to a buildup in your septic system and that is not safe for it. Instead, try to clear household drains using augers instead of these drain cleaners just to be safe.


Solvents should not be introduced to your septic system. Solvents and solvent-based products include items like degreasers, paint thinners, and even nail polish remover. These items are not safe for the environment and do not mix with water. In short, they are not material that your septic system can treat, so they should never be introduced to your system.

When you use chemicals and cleaners, be sure you understand which ones are safe to use with your septic system. If you aren’t sure, you should call your septic system service provider for advice. You don’t want to risk harming this valuable home system or your environment.

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Septic System 101: Potential Problems

Familiar OutdoorsA septic system is a basic system for waste removal in the home, but its simplicity doesn’t mean there is an easy fix when problems occur. In fact, if you are a homeowner with a septic system, you’ll want to use exceptional care to avoid the following potential problems associated with septic systems. By keeping some useful tips in mind, you can extend the longevity of your system and help ward away major problems with expensive price tags.


You should avoid flushing various chemicals down your toilet that can harm the anaerobic environment in your septic tank. These bacteria are essential for breaking down waste into liquid that can then be drained from the tank. When chemicals reduce these good bacteria, you wind up with sludge that can fill your tank and possibly drain into your leach field where it can clog pipes its pipes. Silver nitrate, for example, can kill the whole bacteria colony. Products with bleach or lye and also significantly reduce the good bacteria in the tank.

Cooking Oils

Grease and cooking oils should not be introduced to the septic system. These liquids may block up the systems inlet drains. Moreover, they do not easily degrade and can make the periodic draining of the septic tank difficult.

Non-Biodegradable Materials

It’s important to avoid dumping anything down the toilet that is not biodegradable. Items like cigarette butts, baby wipes, cotton balls, or sanitary napkins will cause clogs in your system. Problems like this can be expensive to fix. Be sure each member of the household understands the importance of respecting the septic system’s maintenance needs and requirements.

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs can wreak havoc with any sewage system. The roots of these plants seek out water sources. For this reason, it’s best to avoid planting trees or shrubs anywhere near your leach field where the roots could cause problems for the buried pipes.

Garbage Disposal

If you use a garbage disposal in association with your septic system, you may definitely have to have your tank maintained more frequently or the food could cause clogs and drainage problems that will lead to costly repairs. In fact, you might be reducing the longevity of your drainage system by using a garbage disposal. Consider composting food items for the garden and landscape instead.

Too Much Water

Introducing too much water into the septic system can be harmful for the system and lead to problems. For instance, if you do multiple loads of wash in one day, you could overwhelm the tank. The tank could release effluent that is not adequately decomposed. This matter could then clog the pipes of the leach field. It’s best not to make a practice of doing all your wash in a single day or using the washing machine and dishwasher at the same time.

Keep these potential problems in mind so you can more effectively ward them away. If you do experience a problem, be sure to contact your professional septic system service provider to apply the fix you need.

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Promoting the Longevity of the Leach Field

The leach field is a vital part of your home’s septic system. This area is where the effluent that drains from your septic system is treated to final processing and released into the ground so that microbes in your soil can safely finish breaking it down. Your leach field should be able to repeat this process for decades, but there are some practices you can make to enhance the longevity of this aspect of your septic system.

Leach Field Overview

Septic systems provide on two components to process waste as it leaves the home. Waste travels to the septic tank where bacteria break it down for safe removal. Some of the waste remains as sludge that must be removed from your tank periodically, but most travels as liquid from the tank out into your leach field where the breaking down process is completed with the help of your soil’s microbes. Essentially a field of drains, the leach field contains perforated drains that release the treated effluent into the ground where it can safely join ground water. Gravel is usually embedded along the pipes to aid in the filtering process. The gravel and pipes then covered with soil, hiding the system from view and from prying animals.

Serious problems can occur with your septic system when there is a drain field clog, so homeowners must take care not to flush anything that shouldn’t be going out into the system. Most leach field systems will last between ten and twenty years, but with excellent care, some have lasted even longer.

Enhancing the Longevity of Your Leach Field

With effective care, you can support the longevity of your leach field. Septic tank experts suggest that you first respect the plumbing system by not flushing anything down the toilet that shouldn’t be introduced into the septic system. Paper towels, baby wipes, or even food can create serious clogs in the system that require expensive fixes and also reduce the life of your leach field.

You can also care for you septic system by spreading out water usage. For instance, try not to run your washing machine and dishwasher at the same time. Spread out your washes so that you’re not doing one after the other, which can overwhelm the system. For instance, your septic tank might not be able to contain the amount of water you release into it. This results in liquid entering the leach field before it has been adequately processed in the septic tank. This ineffectively treated effluent can cause problems for your leach field, particularly if you make a habit of overwhelming the system.

Finally, don’t forget to schedule routine maintenance of your septic system. Maintenance performed by septic system professionals will enhance the well-being of your entire system. You may be able to fix small issues before they can become serious problems. You definitely don’t want your leach field to cause environmental concerns or affect your well water. For this reason, it’s important to work with professionals who know how to keep your system operating safely.

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Tree Roots and Your Septic System: NOT a Match Made in Heaven

Trees, shrubs, and a dazzling landscape may be far, far prettier than your septic system, but combining these two elements can be a disaster. Septic system experts suggest that the best covering for your septic system is simply dirt and grass. Plants with more extensive root systems, especially trees, can pose massive problems for the longevity of your system and create more maintenance calls regarding than you’d care to experience.

The Problem with Trees

Trees can pose problems for all underground sewage systems. However, because you are responsible for a septic system, you have to shoulder the burden of dealing with a tree root problem on your property. Tree roots pose problem for septic systems because they seek out water as they grow and stretch out to locate sources beneath the ground. Cracks in your pipes or joints allow these roots to get into the pipes to get to the water within them. As the roots grow, they can block the drainage pipes, resulting in a large problem. Not only can the roots clog the pipes, they can actually bust them.

Slow drainage can be a sign that tree roots have gotten into your system. The sooner you call a professional septic system service provider to deal with this problem the better. As the clog worsens and sewage begins to back up, you can experience a complete system failure. This problem can further be complicated by sewage that leaks into the environment–particularly near your well. Not surprising, the cost to repair this mess can be very high. For this reason, you should never plant trees near your leach field.

Dealing with a Tree Root Problem

Some people may be inclined to dump chemicals down their toilets designed to kill tree roots. However, experts warn that this could damage your septic system by killing the bacteria inside it needed to break down the raw sewage. It is never advisable to introduce any chemicals into your septic system.

Instead, it’s important to ask a septic system expert to examine your problem. In most cases, the service technician will attempt to auger the pipes of your septic system and employ a cutter to pull out any tree roots that are causing the blockage. Frequently, there is more than one blockage to contend with when it comes to those persistent tree roots. Sometimes, it is necessary to replace pipes, particularly older ones that have cracks that allow the tree roots to get into your system.

Know Your Landscape

Homeowners should know where their drain field is in order to remove any trees or shrubs growing on or near it. Local records departments should have this information if you do not. If you have to remove trees, be sure to take out the stump and root system; even after cutting down the tree, the roots can continue to grow and cause problems for your system.

Again, make sure that the only thing growing near your septic system is grass. If you have any questions about the trees and shrubs on your property, consult your septic system technician for advice about how to deal with them.

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Does Your Septic System Need Rejuvenating?

flanigan-22315With today’s new technology, septic service providers have more means at their disposal to deal with a malfunctioning or clogged septic system. In many cases, even drain fields can be rejuvenated so homeowners don’t need to a complete replacement or a site for this essential aspect of their septic system. Rejuvenation can increase the longevity of your septic system and ensure that it operates just as you need it to.

Septic System Rejuvenation

Many systems that have clogs or are failing in some way may be eligible for rejuvenation measures rather than system replacement. Your septic service provider can help you determine if your system can be rejuvenated in order to function again both safely and efficiently. Rejuvenation supports existing equipment so that you don’t have to replace it. In some cases, only some materials may need to be replaced. The treatment can add years to the life of your current septic system, allowing you much more time to save for an eventual replacement down the road.

During the rejuvenation process, your septic system technicians will remove elements from the drain field that allow effluence to degrade more quickly. Homeowners will notice more efficiency with their system as soon as rejuvenation is complete.

Rejuvenating the Leach Field

When your technician aerates your leach field, it literally extends its life. Waste can be more quickly purified and released into the field. With its proven technology, rejuvenation techniques can reverse what appears to be a failed system and extend its life for several years. This technique is used throughout North America to extend the life of leach fields and septic systems.

Rejuvenation measures are minimally invasive to the landscape, a concern for some property owners. The techniques used are designed to remove phosphorus, nitrogen, and other pathogens from the leach field that can hold up the process and time it takes for waste materials to degrade. In many cases, even a system that is seems utterly failed can be up and running again in days.

Improving Efficiency

Rejuvenating the leach field improves the overall efficiency of the septic system. In some cases, systems seem to function better than ever. Some home owners are actually able to set aside a portion of their leach field for later use because the rejuvenation has rendered it so efficient. Some systems may function as much as five times their old capacity after rejuvenation is performed. There are variables, however, such as the type of soil existing in your leach field. Your septic tank technician will be able to provide you with specific information about your particular system and how rejuvenation can improve its function.

In many cases, rejuvenation can save a failing or even a failed septic system. Your service provider can assess your septic system to determine if and how rejuvenation measures can add years onto the life of this important system of your home. Rejuvenation is an incredible cost savings and also adds extra value to your current septic system.

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Septic Tank Pumping Oakwood GA Flanigan Brothers Tells How to Choose a Septic Tank

medium_5471765303Septic tanks offer a convenient and cost-effective method of disposing of household wastewater in properties that do not have access to main sewage lines. Once installed, septic tanks need very little care and maintenance and only need to be emptied once every few years depending on the size of your household. Choosing the correct septic system for your home is essential to ensure the tank does not become backed up and cause bacteria to seep into the local groundwater. You may also need to comply with local regulations regarding the correct placement of your tank and the minimum size required for your home.

Choosing a Septic Tank

Septic tanks are made from three types of materials which are concrete, fibreglass or plastic. Concrete is by far the most popular choice with plastic and fibreglass usually reserved for homes in remote locations that are difficult to access. Choosing the correct size tank for your home is extremely important as a smaller tank will need emptying more often leading to added expense. On average, a household of five people will need a 1000 gallon tank that requires emptying every two to three years. A single person can make do with a 500 gallon tank that will need emptying every five years. Some states require all septic tanks to be a minimum size regardless of how many people will be using it, so always check with your local municipality.

Positioning Your Septic Tank

Installing a septic tank and drainage field is a relatively large job that requires prior knowledge of drainage systems. Seek the advice of a trained specialist before attempting the job yourself or hire a professional company to complete the installation for you. Septic tanks should be buried at least 100 feet from the main house, surrounding structures and any trees that may be on your property. Tree roots can damage pipe work and cause the entire system to fail. The size of the drainage field required will depend on the size of your tank and the volume of water used every day. Drainage fields are usually a mixture of gravel and soil and are responsible for removing bacteria and any remaining solids from wastewater. If your septic tank will be buried underground, then it is important to install risers onto the viewing ports. Risers allow a technician to inspect the inside of the tank and measure the sludge and scum levels. Never open the viewing ports yourself as dangerous gas builds up inside that could even prove fatal.

In order to keep your septic tank in perfect working order, be sure to have it inspected and serviced at regular intervals. An ideal time for inspection is during emptying when it will be much easier to access the tank. Try to cut down on the amount of water you consume in your home to prevent the tank from overflowing. As septic tanks rely on a delicate balance of bacteria to break down solid matter, never throw harsh chemicals such as chlorine or drain cleaner down your toilet.

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The Do’s & Don’ts Of Septic Repair From Septic Tank Pumping Lilburn GA Flanigan Brothers

Family Lying In Pile Up On Grass TogetherConventional septic tanks are wonderfully efficient designs that only need pumping once every four years or so. With good care, they last as long as 100 years. If you treat your septic tank as if it were a simple cesspool, and dump every type of waste that your home produces into it, your system won’t be very useful. To retain efficient function, you need to know the correct way to use a septic tank.
In a septic tank, solid human waste and other natural waste are broken down by anaerobic bacteria present in the system. These bacteria, though, are only able to function in a natural environment. You need to make sure that you don’t do anything to disturb the natural flora present in the septic tank. The pointers here should help.

What not to do with a septic tank system


Don’t dump too many solids into your septic tank

If you were in a home with municipal sewage connections, you might get away with throwing all kinds of things down the toilet – cigarette butts, wet wipes, ripped up paper and so on. In a septic tank, though, the bacteria present are not able to biodegrade these items. Non-biodegradable solid items clogging up your system will cause an imbalance in the environment present in your septic tank, and render the bacteria ineffective over time.

Do not use chemicals

Bleach, chemical toilet cleaners, cooking oil from the kitchen, antifreeze, pesticides, drain cleaners and other strong chemicals can kill bacteria, and make the septic tank less effective. While small quantities of these items will usually not do much harm, large quantities certainly can. It isn’t even a good idea to run your washing machine more than once a day, unless you use a high-efficiency washing machine. With large amounts of soapy water being dumped in, the environment in the septic tank will soon lose the ability to break down waste.

Do not use a garbage disposal

While the bacteria in septic tanks are capable of breaking down solid waste, large amounts may be a problem. Keeping solid waste out of the septic tank as far as possible will extend the time that you can go between cleanups. Dumping large amounts of water in your septic tank can also cause problems.  
Don’t use additives: Many manufacturers advertise expensive bottles of additive that are intended to help septic tanks break down their waste quicker. These items don’t help, though.

The dos of septic tank use

Use mild products: Whatever soap, detergent or bathroom cleaner you use, make sure that it’s a mild product to avoid doing unnecessary damage to the bacteria in your septic tank.
Do check for blockages: If your internal sewage system contains a block, it will usually show itself as a stopped drain or one that’s slow to flow. You can easily check for blockages yourself, and remove them. Alternatively can call in a professional.

Do be careful with the leachfield: The leachfield, the system of pipes distributing relatively clean  septic tank effluent out, needs careful attention.It’s important to never park a vehicle over it.

A little training is all that it takes to keep a septic tank in top working condition.

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Is It Necessary to Add Enzymes to a Septic Tank?

is-it-necessary-to-add-enzymes-to-a-septic-tankA septic tank is an important piece of equipment that takes care of one of the most essential tasks in the home. Those living in rural areas that are not connected to a main sewage line often rely on septic tanks to dispose of household wastewater and sewage. A septic tank functions as a mini sewage treatment system that can break down and remove the waste material for an entire household. The interior of a septic tank is essentially a small eco-system that relies on bacteria to break down solid matter and separate it from liquid waste. There are many chemical and biological additives available for septic tanks that claim to prolong the life of the tank and increase its efficiency. However, a number of studies have found that introducing additives into a septic system can actually harm the tank and may even increase the amount of times that it needs to be pumped.

Septic Solutions

Septic tanks work by separating liquids and solid matter. Waste material is slowly broken down by anaerobic bacteria and is flushed from the tank along with the liquid into a drainage field. Any solid waste that cannot be broken down remains at the bottom of the tank as sludge that needs to be pumped out every two to four years. If they are properly maintained, septic tanks can last for up to 30 years, and controlling the amount of solid waste that enters the system will reduce the amount of times it needs to be emptied. Household chemicals such as bleach and drain cleaner should never be introduced into a septic system as they can kill off the bacteria that live inside the tank.

There are many additives available on the market containing ingredients such as yeast, bacteria, enzymes, or hydrogen peroxide that are designed to aid the fermentation process inside the tank. Some manufacturers even fraudulently claim that their product eliminates the need for pumping as the additive can break down all of the solid waste within the tank. However, septic tanks are more than capable of doing their job without the help of chemical or organic additives. As long as they are properly cared for, septic tanks create their own bacteria that feed off of the waste material inside and break it down into sludge. Homeowners should only add a small amount of bacteria to their tank if the existing bacteria have been killed off by excessive use of household chemicals.

Know Your Septic

Limiting the amount of solid waste that enters a septic tank is one of the best ways to keep it in perfect working order. Never flush items such as tampons, baby wipes, cigarettes or paper towels down the toilet as they cannot be broken down by a septic system. Homes that use a septic system should never install a garbage disposal as the small food particles collect at the bottom of the tank as sludge that needs to be pumped out more frequently.

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How to Choose a Septic Company

medium_8028725357Problems with your septic system can render your home uninhabitable within minutes. If your system becomes backed up, it could lead to water and sewage overflowing from your toilets and drains. In order to keep your system in good condition, you will need to find a reputable septic company that has many years of experience in installing and maintaining septic tanks. Hiring an inexperienced technician or one that cuts corners could lead to disaster and may even lower the value of your property.

Get Referrals

The best way to find a skilled contractor is to ask for referrals from friends and neighbors. You can also check out websites such as angieslist that rate local contractors and allows customers to leave reviews. Your local authority or health department should be able to provide you with a list of septic companies operating in your area.

Do Some Research

Once you have narrowed your search down to a few candidates, perform some research on each contractor. Check that the company is licensed and registered with the state and that they have general liability insurance. Visit each company’s website to see their background and experience and to see what types of septic systems they work with. Do a little extra research on septic tank maintenance and care to see if a contractor uses modern techniques and practices when installing and servicing septic tanks. If you have doubts about a particular company’s credentials, then you can call and verify their license number with your state’s licensing board.

Ask What Services Each Contractor Provides

If you require a whole new system installed on your property, ask each company what aftercare they provide. Septic tanks need emptying every three to five years depending on how many people reside in your household. The tank and drainage field also need regular inspection and maintenance. Ask the contractor if aftercare is included in the price of installation and how much they charge for emergency callouts. You should also enquire about what guarantees each company offers on their work and how quickly they can send a technician in the event of an emergency.

Watch Out For Hidden Charges

If your septic tank is located underground, then some companies may charge you an extra fee if they have to dig to gain access to it. There may also be an extra charge for properties that are in remote areas or are difficult to access. If your property is built on a slope or is far away from a road where the contractor’s truck can park, ask if you will have to pay more for them to pump the tank from a large distance.

Get a quote from several different companies for whatever work you require. Be wary of simply selecting the cheapest contractor as they may use a lower quality of materials. Never attempt to inspect your septic tank yourself unless you have experience with sewage systems. Septic tanks create toxic gases that can be dangerous, so leave pumping and other maintenance tasks to the professionals.

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Common Septic Tank Problems and How to Fix Them

Fixing Shower Drain Problems

Most households never come into contact with their septic tank unless something goes wrong. Your septic system is responsible for one of the most unpleasant yet most vital tasks in the home, and addressing any problems before they escalate is of utmost importance. It is extremely rare for a septic system to fail completely, and most issues can be fixed with a simple procedure. Never attempt to open your septic tank yourself or perform any repairs without the guidance of a trained specialist.


The Water from Your Shower or Tub Does Not Drain 

If water begins to back up in your shower or tub, it may be a sign that you have a blockage in the main sewage line that carries water out of your home. You may also see water rising from drainage holes in your basement. A plumber’s snake can be used to clear any minor blockages from sewage pipes. If only one drain in your home is backing up, then the blockage may be in that particular line and not in the main sewage line. If a snake does not remove the blockage, then you may want to check for any damage to the exterior pipes. Tree roots can occasionally cause damage to pipework, and any trees within 100 feet of a septic system should be removed for this reason.


Your Toilet Makes Gurgling Sounds

If your toilet makes a strange gurgling sound after flushing, this could signal a problem with your drainage field. The drainage field is the area where liquid is pumped out of the septic tank and into the surrounding soil. The septic tank separates solid waste from liquid and allows water to flow into the drainage field where bacteria and microorganisms breakdown any remaining particles. Drainage fields can become overloaded if you suddenly consume more water than usual. If you have recently had friends or relatives staying with you, then the problem will usually fix itself once you start using less water. If the problem persists, then you may need to expand your drainage field.


There is a Bad Smell in Your Home

Bad smells in the home usually indicate that that your septic tank is in need of emptying. Most tanks only need to be pumped once every few years depending on the size of the household. However, using a garbage disposal or installing a small septic tank will mean that you will have to empty it more often. Solid waste that cannot be broken down collects at the bottom of the tank. Once the waste fills around one third of the tank, it is time to call a professional septic tank repair company to empty it.

Always make sure you tackle any minor problems with your septic system as soon as they appear. Ignoring the problem may lead to total system failure which will cost a lot of time and money to repair. A faulty septic tank can also lead to bacteria and viruses such as hepatitis seeping out and polluting local groundwater, ponds and lakes.

Photo Credit: Forty Two.

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