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A septic system—or on-site sewage facility (OFFS)—is a method of dealing with household wastewater in areas where city sewer is not available. There are many types of OSSFs. Most people use the term “septic system” very generally, which may include all types of on-site sewage facilities. A typical standard septic system consists of a septic tank (to separate the solids from the liquids) and an absorption area where the liquids are treated in the soil before returning to the groundwater supply.
It is a “watertight” container, usually made of concrete and buried somewhere in your yard. The septic tank separates the solids from the liquids. Most of the solids settle in the tank and will need to be removed periodically by hiring a licensed professional to clean the tank. Newer tanks contain a dividing wall, which separates the tank into two compartments. All tanks should have an inlet baffle and outlet baffle to keep the scum and sludge inside the tank
Septic tanks are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes. The size of tank depends on the number of bedrooms in the home and the square footage of the home. If you do not have accurate records from the installation, we can give you a good estimate of the size over the phone, or measure your tank.
No. Most septic tanks in the area are made of concrete, but there are some that are made of fiberglass and plastic. Some older tanks may be made of metal.
Deterioration of the concrete septic tank is typically caused by hydrogen sulfide gas. Most deterioration issues are associated with heavy garbage disposal usage as the rotting food creates hydrogen sulfide. Also, backwash from some water softeners into the septic tank using salt for water treatment can also create hydrogen sulfide. Since it is a gas, the deterioration occurs above the water line in the tank.
DON’T treat the system as city sewer. Economy in the use of water helps prevent overloading of a septic system. Overloading the system could shorten the life of the system and necessitate expensive repairs. Leaky faucets, running commodes and malfunctioning water softeners should be carefully guarded against. Avoid doing all your laundry in one day; surges of water entering the system may hydraulically overload the system and throw off the balance of bacteria.
DON’T flush anything except toilet paper and wastewater. Things that may harm your system include: excessive use of a garbage disposal, grease, too many cleaners, soaps, bleaches, detergents drain cleaners, fabric softener, cigarette butts, diapers, wipes, feminine products, condoms, q-tips, paints, paint thinners, auto grease, antifreeze, unused medicine, automatic toilet cleaners, hair combings, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers, kitty litter, gauze bandages, paper towels, etc.
DO pump and clean your tank on a regular basis by a registered and licensed septic tank service company and dispose in a manner approved by TCEQ.
DO maintain the area where the septic tank and drainfield are located. For a period of time after installation, the soils will settle. Filling and leveling of the area should be maintained so that rain and surface water will not enter the drainfield and cause flooding. Use good soils for leveling. Grass cover is required over the area of the drainfield and around spray areas for aerobic systems. Keep the vegetation short over the drainfield and around the spray heads. If you have an automatic yard sprinkler, set it for shorter periods of time so that you don’t flood the drainfield or spray area by over watering.
DON’T build any structure over any portion of the system. The structure will prevent access to the system for maintenance, reduce the ability of water to evaporate from the soil and restrict air movement into the soil.
DON’T plant landscaping around the system. Keep vegetation mowed or trimmed around all system components.
DON’T drive heavy equipment over the components of the system. Heavy equipment can crush the components and lead to expensive repairs.
DON’T use additives. Some additives may even harm the system’s operation by liquefying the sludge in the tank and carrying it out into the drainfield, causing system failure. Natural bacteria are present in the wastewater to decompose the waste.
Cleaning your septic tank is the key to the life of your septic system. The purpose of the septic tank is to separate the wastewater from the solid waste and allow only the wastewater to enter the soil absorption field. The less frequently the tank is cleaned, the more solids are likely to enter the soil absorption field. When this occurs, your soils and drainfield will clog and lead to system failure.
A conventional septic tank should be pumped every 3 to 5 years, depending on the size of the tank and the household wastewater usage. For example: a family of 6 on a 1000-gallon tank will need to pump out the tank more frequently than a family of 3 on a 1000-gallon tank.
Risers can be installed on most septic tanks. The riser brings the lid up to the surface of the ground. It can be installed just below the ground or above the ground, depending on your preference.
No. Even if a hose could fit down the cleanout, this still would not provide a thorough cleaning. The tank should be pumped from the actual access lid(s) on the tank, which are usually buried 6-12 inches below the surface of the ground. Depending on the age of your system, the tank may have a dividing wall, in which case we will need to gain access to both compartments to thoroughly clean the tank.
If you originally pumped the tank because the tank was overfull (meaning the liquid level in the tank is higher than normal, or “backed up”) and it is overfull again, this is sign that your absorption area is not accepting your household usage of wastewater. Lets say you have a 1000-gallon tank. The tank normal liquid level in the tank would be 1000-gallons at the level of the outlet pipe. When your tank is cleaned, the tank will then be empty. Once you use 1000-gallons by flushing the commode, taking showers, doing dishes or laundry, the tank will again be filled to its normal level (typically, this may only take a few days to one week). If you find that the tank is overfull again, this indicates that your absorption area is not accepting your wastewater. Check for dripping faucets, running commodes and malfunctioning water softeners as they could cause the absorption area to flood out. If you find there are none of these, more investigation may be needed to discover the cause of system failure and find a remedy.
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