Septic System Issues?
Many people have homes on septic tank service and many times they never have a problem, until they do. What I mean, is that the septic tank is “out of sight and out of mind” for the 99.9% of the time that you live in your home. The problems usually arise from too many of the wrong effluents and not enough of the right preventative maintenance. In order to understand how treating your septic system can help you, you need to know how it works.
How Your Septic System Works
Septic systems are underground wastewater treatment structures, commonly used in rural areas without centralized sewer systems. They use a combination of nature and proven technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry.
A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield, or soil absorption field.
The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (e.g., oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater. Soil-based systems discharge the liquid (known as effluent) from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field, leaching chambers, or other special units designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil or surface water.
Alternative systems use pumps or gravity to help septic tank effluent trickle through sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants like disease-causing pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants. Some alternative systems are designed to evaporate wastewater or disinfect it before it is discharged to the soil or surface waters.
Specifically, this is how a typical septic system works:
- All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank.
- The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Its job is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle down to the bottom forming sludge, while the oil and grease floats to the top as scum.
Compartments and a T-shaped outlet prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area.
- The liquid wastewater (effluent) then exits the tank into the drainfield.
- The drain field is a shallow, covered, excavation made in unsaturated soil. Pretreated wastewater is discharged through piping onto porous surfaces that allow wastewater to filter though the soil. The soil accepts, treats, and disperses… wastewater as it percolates through the soil, ultimately discharging to groundwater.
If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in toilets and sinks.
- Finally, the wastewater percolates into the soil, naturally removing harmful coliform bacteria, viruses and nutrients. Coliform bacteria is a group of bacteria predominantly inhabiting the intestines of humans or other warm-blooded animals. It is an indicator of human fecal contamination.
So, now that you know a little more, let’s talk about maintenance.
I always like to talk about systems when I talk about facility maintenance. A home is really not much more than a small factory, the home has the same issues, just on a smaller scale and one of the biggest problems with with a factory is waste disposal. For a home, this usually involves the drain lines for the sinks, toilets, showers and baths. The waste processing center is the septic tank. Above, it was discussed about pumping the sludge from your tank, which is essentially the solid waste matter and keeping the leach field from plugging-up. The fast and easy solution if we have a problem, is to add enzymes.
Let’s talk a little bit about biology (because it is important here). What is an enzyme? And enzyme is simply a bi-product of bacterial action. Think of the enzyme as the “fork and knife” for the bacteria. When bacteria are introduced to a food source in an environment which it is compatible with, the bacteria produce enzymes. This action allows the food source to be broken down into smaller micro-particles, which then the bacteria absorbs through it cell wall. Pretty cool eh? When the bacteria consumes the food source it divides through a process call bi-nary fission, where one cell, becomes two. Over time, with the right conditions,a few bacteria can become millions of billions. Which means that millions of billions of enzymes are being produced to help degrade the waste matter.
Bacteria do have a life span, around 7-10 days, but during that time span it has replicated itself exponentially a thousand times over. And as long as there is a food source and the proper environmental conditions, the bacteria will digest the waste. Now, if we take the food source away or you introduce harmful chemicals to the system, you can effectively kill you septic systems bio-system. It is at this point, where people go to the local hardware store and buy a box of enzymes and dump it down their drain, hoping for a miracle. If you think back on what we just spoke about, you essentially dumped a box of forks and knives down your drain. Those enzymes will help to break apart the waste, but that’s it! Now you have use all of your enzymes, your system seems to work for a while and then you have problems again, so you repeat the treatment of enzymes. Basically, you have put-off your problems for a later date and have not solved your problem.
Using Oil Sponge UC+ to support your septic system
This is where Oil Sponge UC+ comes into play as your septic tank maintenance tool. Oil Sponge UC+ contains a “active culture” package which will digest oil, fat and grease, along with simple organic matter. The green chemistry of the formulation (soap) initially helps to break-apart bonded soils for the bacteria, which then produce enzymes and through a process known as bio-remediation, convert the oil, fats and grease into carbon dioxide and water. And as long as there exists the proper environmental conditions, it will continue to do so. Simply add a cup or two (depending on the amount of people living in the home) of UC+ down any drain, to reinforce your septic system.
For the last 25 years, we have been the only “microbial” cleaner that does not require “premixing”, which makes Oil Sponge UC+ very safe easy to use. The active culture package comes active after it is diluted with water and all of the cultures have the same safety level as yeast. This means that the UC+ cleaner can be used safely around the home, pets and property.
Oil Sponge UC+ is an excellent cleaner for home use and can be diluted to any concentration, just make sure to mix only what you will use. Try treating your drains while you clean by using Oil Sponge UC+ as a hand dish soap for degreasing those baked-on, greasy, food plates and pans.
If you have a septic system, make sure that you are treating it right… pun intended!