Anyone familiar with septic tanks?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Yes, it is a Sat night and of COURSE that is when the septic tank starts beeping. husband found out how to flip switches from the septic tank guy before he moved, but that is about all we know. So husband made it happy for tonight.

    From reading the manual I found online I can say with certainty that the person who was supposed to maintain it quit with several years left on the contract that was prepaid. No one around here who deals with septic tanks does this brand. I did find someone who will pump it. I have to call them Monday.

    We have no smells. I just don't want to ruin the pump. I have said no laundry and no showers more than 10 minutes. Not sure what else to do.

    Always something else I guess.


    Anyone have any other info on septic tanks?
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I used to have one but it wasn't sophisticated enough to beep. LOL! I was just told that if I flushed yeast powder down the toilets about once a month it would keep it from needing maintenance so often. Sorry I can't be more help-
  3. jal

    jal Member

    susiestar - do you have a gravity fed system? Is that the reason for the alarm? We considered one years ago when we had to replace, but husband does that work so we ended up with-a standard with-leach fields, enough to accomodate a 4 bdrm. house (we have 3bdrm with-2 1/2 bth). T.G. able to do it for $1000 grand @ the time.

    If it's beeping I'd definately be looking @ pumping.
  4. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I don't think ours beeps; it never has, but our house is only ten years old. We have it pumped every two to three years. We flush yeast down the toilet at night every other month or so. Ridx. I think if you called someone to pump it, they should be able to tell you if something was wrong and recommend someone to fix it....most pumpers are usually installers here. Have you had a lot of rain lately or used a lot of water?
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Wee had a septic tank for years but it never beeped. Not sure why yours does.

    Depending on what sort of septic tank it is, there are many different things about them. You need to know what sort it is, whether it uses a pump and if so what for, and any other relevant maintenance issues.

    You shouldn't need a professional service for a lot of basic septic tank stuff. Often it's just a matter of know your tank and give it what it needs at the right time.

    Different kinds of tanks -

    1) Absorption - these will pretty much look after themselves all the time, needing very little done unless something goes wrong. Septic waste (from toilets) goes into the main septic tank where it is digested. Grey water (from sinks, washing, showers etc) should go into absorption trenches, which is where the digested liquid from the septic should also go. The sludge is what is left in the tank and a healthy tank generally digests so well that it may not need pumping out for decades, literally. We would often go ten years between pumpouts, and that is with 6 of us.
    To look after an absorption tank, you do need to keep the tank alive (we used to buy a product called Actizyme, rather than just flushing yeast. This is a specialist product, not expensive.We'd throw down a handful of granules down the toilet once a week or so). If anyone in the family is taking antibiotics, you need to use a lot more of the Actizyme stuff because antibiotics will go through your body into the toilet and risk killing the bacteria in the septic tank. This will rapidly fill the tank with sludge and can block it fast. If the sludge overflows into your trenches it can be expensive and smelly.

    2) a reticulation/chlorination system. These have various brand names and frankly, are very touchy to use. Some people love them, I hate them. These are more complex than a standard absorption system. Instead of absorption trenches, this type of reticulation system still has the main sludge tank, but the grey water plus digested liquid effluent gets sprayed or pumped onto an area of ground set aside for the purpose. In my experience this happens at regular timed intervals regardless of the weather and the state of rainfall. I've seen properties which were already waterlogged form floods, which then had the regular grey water being reticulated to add to this load. This stuff being sprayed/pumped was generally chlorinated first, to make sure it was bacteriologically safe.

    3) pump-out system. THis is little more than a larger version of a pit toilet. It fills up over time and you pay someone to come and pump it out. In the meantime there could be some digestion in the tank, but generally there is nowhere for the digested liquid to go and be used.

    I loved our absoption tank, I felt it was putting the nutrients back into our soil and we were dealing with our own waste on site. The biggest problem we had was when we changed to a front-loader washing machine which meant our grey water was less in volume and more concentrated - Aussie native plants don't like phosphates and we lost some lovely trees which were just downstream from our absorption trenches.

    Variations on those above three - you might have a pump system that pumps to the trenches (type 1) or to a reticulation area after chlorination (type 2). There can be different levels of sophistication which can complicate the picture. When they finally sewered our villlage, some people were allowed to keep their septic tanks (we tried but it was going to be too expensive). Some had no choice, their location meant it was going to be too awkward to connect to the sewer. A lot that connected found they still need pumps because their property is below the level of the sewerage mains and they have to pump up to the mains. This requires regular maintenance and careful service, you don't want to find everything backing up.

    Serious suggestion - if you're concerned, call a plumber for an opinion. You may not have a big problem, it could be quite a simple issue (a battery needing changing in a smoke detector, kind of problem).

    Can you open up the inspection port and have a look? At the very least, it should show you how full your tank is, how healthy it is etc. There should be some useful info on line to tell you how a healthy tank should look. I won't go into too much detail here, I don't want to put you off.

    When we first moved to this village, husband & I rented. The place we were renting had septic tank problems, husband & I had a go at trying to help fix it. I remember guddling around with a long pole and checking out the quality of the sludge, to find that a previous tenant had apparently been flushing disposable nappies into the septic system (not smart!) and the plastic liner (which you also get with sanitary napkins) had accumulated, NOT digested (of course) and were blocking various pipes etc.

    Before the village had the sewer connected, I was on a committee which travelled around learning about septics, sewerage etc and we were shown how sewerage stations worked. Never again will I flush anything down that is likely to find itself stranded on the sieves they have to use! All those years of reading the packaging of various sanitary protection which says, "easily flushable" - never again. Cotton buds too, surgical swabs, etc. In some countries they don't even put toilet paper down the loo. In our house, we don't put anything more than toilet paper down the loo, with the usual human bodily waste. Everything else goes in the rubbish. It's where it ends up anyway, why should someone else have the job of having to filter it all out after it's been made all mucky?

    So I can't help any more than that, sorry. But do get an opinion form a plumber before you go straight in to organise a pump-out - you probably DO need a pumpout now, but you probably would benefit from a professional opinion based on how the tank looks now. They can help you know what went wrong (if anything) and what to do next time.

  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    We have a septic with leach fields and we have it pumped every 2-3 years, hence, no need for an alarm. Our septic people really get on us if we don't have it pumped every 2-3 years; it's advisable to do so no matter which septic tank you have. Also, our septic people said that the RidX doesn't really do anything at all, waste of money - HOWEVER, our old septic people said to use it every other month. So who knows.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think you would call ours a leach field system. All anyone here says if it is an aerobic or an ne It has 3 tanks and sprinkler heads that pop up. When it floods here out system sprays for hours on end. So do all the neighbors.

    We have not ever used ridx regularly. But the system was in decent shape and could have gone on another 2-3 months.

    The light is to some kind of alarm. The pumper (none of them here install, they just pump) said he thinks it is electrical, but doesn't know what. The installer is ducking my calls.

    I am going to call the manufacturer in the morning.

    Thanks for the info.