What is the Impact of a Leaking Toilet on a Septic System?

toilet

That frustrating “drip-drip-drip” from a leaky faucet or running toilet does more than annoy your family. Every drip is wasting water, which is not only bad for the environment but can also seriously affect your septic system. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that household leaks can cause more than 1 trillion gallons of wasted water each year.

leakyHomeowners with septic systems, however, should take extra precaution against leaking fixtures. Excessive water use from leaky faucets and fixtures in your septic system can cause disastrous results. The steady flow of water from a leaky toilet or faucet day and night can quickly flood your septic tank as well as the ground around the drain field, making it impossible for water to flow out of your septic system, eventually leading to septic system failure. This is referred to as hydraulic overloading.

That dripping noise might not be as innocent as it sounds, so it’s important to pay attention. Every time you flush the toilet, take a shower, brush your teeth, rinse the dishes, or wash a load of laundry, water is flowing to your septic tank and your drain field. When your septic system is working as it should, the drain field gets a break during the day while you are out of the house during the day and again at night when you are sleeping. But, with a leaking toilet, the drain field never gets a break to dry out. All this extra stress on the septic system is no good. If your drain field is taking on more water than it can absorb, it never has a chance to dry out and make room for more water.

With nowhere to go, the water eventually backs up through the plumbing system and into drains and toilets in your home. Not only will the water flood the system, but it may also flush solids from the tank into the drain field. A flooded drain field can also lead to untreated sewage flowing into the groundwater and local streams, putting them at risk for significant environmental contamination.

You can protect your septic system by using water efficiently. Fix leaky toilets. Fix shower heads and faucets. Toilet leaks can be frustrating because they are often very difficult to detect. If your toilet was manufactured before 1994, consider buying a new high-efficiency toilet that has the EPA “WaterSense” logo. These high-performing, water-saving toilets can eliminate leaks while improving flushing power.

Observation alone might show you some of the leaks in your house, but others may be well-hidden. The residential plumbing experts at FloHawks will tell you that it’s much cheaper to simply fix a leaky toilet or faucet than to repair a failed septic system. Let us take care of your needs. It’s important to catch and repair leaks early to minimize septic system damage.

Repairing leaking fixtures is part of proper care and maintenance for your septic system. To ensure that your system runs well and performs at its best, get your system professionally inspected and serviced every two to three years. Don’t wait for an emergency. Call our trained professionals today for any leaks or septic system needs. Call us today at (800) 356-4295 or use our online scheduler here.

 

Do Not Flush Cat Poop Down Your Toilet

litter

Pets are loving creatures. And the animal lovers among us gladly open our homes to them. However, while you may be willing to share most things with your pets, your septic system should not be one of them.

Why you should never flush cat poop or litter

catEven though it may seem like a good idea, you should not be flushing your cat’s litter or feces down the toilet. It can cause havoc on your plumbing, clog pipes, and damage your septic system. Your septic system operates on a delicate balance of microbes and is designed to process human waste and biodegradable tissue only. Flushing your cat’s litter adds more solid waste load into the biological mix going on in the septic tank. Not only can this extra load disrupt the tank’s microbial balance it can even cause harm to the environment.

Cat waste can contain a nasty parasite called Toxoplasma which can cause some serious health problems to humans. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible. Wastewater treatment systems are primarily designed to handle human waste and aren’t designed to handle things like Toxoplasma. Unfortunately, wastewater treatment systems don’t remove this parasite from the water before it is discharged back into the environment and into the waterways. The harm can also extend into the waterways where new parasites are introduced, and fish, shellfish, otters, and other marine life can also be affected by Toxoplasma – ultimately resulting in brain damage and even death.

Even if you separate the cat poop from the litter, FloHawks recommends against flushing any of it down the toilet. Adding cat litter, even organic or all-natural kitty litter like corn, pine or wood chips, into the septic system over time puts an undue overburden on the septic system. This could lead to serious septic system failure. Flushing kitty litter is never a good idea.

What’s in your cat litter?

Most cat litters are made from bentonite clay which hardens when it gets wet. Add some water, and you get a cement-like consistency. If you’ve ever waited too long to clean out the litter box, you know how quickly the litter can clump and turn into a solid force that is difficult to deal with. Imagine if the litter solidifies in your pipes – the solution may be costly. Depending on how clogged the pipes are they may require water jetting or, if they are completely blocked, the only solution may be to remove the pipes and replace them.

FloHawks advises against flushing any unsanctioned item down your drains, including your cat’s litter, because it can cause harm to your septic system and to marine life. It’s always a good idea to dispose of your cat’s waste properly. Leaving cat or dog feces in your yard can also spread disease. So, what is a pet owner to do? The best way to discard your pets’ waste is by emptying it into a biodegradable bag and putting it in the trash.

Our pets are not the only ones worthy of our love and affection – your septic tank can use some TLC too. Learn more about how to take care of your septic tank here. The professionals at FloHawks have been taking care of septic systems since 1968. Call us at 1-800-356-4295 or schedule your service today.

Key Peninsula Septic Care Incentive Program

If you are a Key Peninsula resident in need of septic service, you’re in luck. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is now offering an incentive program for homeowners. You can save up to $450 on your next septic inspection, riser installation or pumping. Here at FloHawks, our service technicians are experienced in working with the county Health Department and we can help you file the proper paperwork to receive your incentive.

Follow these steps to participate in the septic care incentive program:

  1. Choose a certified septic system service provider.
  2. Schedule your service here. Let us know that you are participating in Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Septic Care Incentive Program.
  3. Download the form here and fill in your information. When the service technician arrives at your home, give them this form to receive:

✓ $125 off a routine inspection (required to receive other discounts below)
✓ $125 off riser installation (inspection required first)
✓ $200 off tank(s) pumping (inspection required first)

Important information:

  • Savings are valid for properties with onsite septic systems in the Key Peninsula only. You must have a gravity or pressure distribution system. Not valid for home sale inspections.
  • Septic systems require ongoing inspections. The county will notify you when a routine inspection is due.
  • Questions? Contact Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department at (253) 798-4788 or EHsepticsystems@tpchd.org.

Key Peninsula Infographic

Lake Tapps Septic Care Incentive Program

Are you a Lake Tapps Resident and looking for a TAPPSWISE Certified Septic Care Provider? Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is now offering an incentive program for homeowners. You can save up to $450 on your next septic inspection, riser installation or pumping. We are teaming up with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to keep your septic system in good working order. At FloHawks, we are experienced in working with the county Health Department and we can help you file the proper paperwork to receive your incentive.

Follow these steps to participate in the septic care incentive program:

  1. Choose a certified septic system service provider.
  2. Schedule your service here. Let us know that you are participating in Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Septic Care Incentive Program.
  3. Download the form here and fill in your information. When the service technician arrives at your home, give them this form to receive:

✓ $125 off a routine inspection (required to receive other discounts below)
✓ $125 off riser installation (inspection required first)
✓ $200 off tank(s) pumping (inspection required first)

Important information:

  • Savings are valid for properties with onsite septic systems in Lake Tapps only. You must have a gravity or pressure distribution system. Not valid for home sale inspections.
  • Septic systems require ongoing inspections. The county will notify you when a routine inspection is due.
  • Questions? Contact Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department at (253) 798-4788 or TappsWise@tpchd.org with “TappsWise Incentive Program” in the subject line.

Lake Tapps Infographic

4 Easy Ways to Find Your Septic Tank

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You may think it’s easy to keep track of something on your property as large as a septic tank but if your septic tank lid is buried underground, as they often are, it may be more difficult to locate than you think. In some cases, particularly if you are not the home’s original owner, you may not have any idea as to where the lids are located. If your property is particularly large, that further complicates matters. Below are some simple tips that may help you locate your septic tank lids.

Let Sewer Pipes Lead the Way

Your septic tank and drainfield are typically installed parallel to the sewer line that extends from your home into the yard. In your home’s basement or crawl space, you may be able to locate a 4-inch sewer pipe where it leaves the house that can lead the way to your septic system. Follow the pipe across the yard by probing every 2 feet or so. Septic tanks are required to be at least 5 feet from the house, although most are between 10 and 25 feet away.

Check County Records

Most counties keep records of building permits, including the installation of septic systems on a particular piece of property. Typically, these “As-builts” contain a diagram with dimensions that can help you locate the septic tank on your property. If your home is located in Thurston, Pierce, Mason, King, or Kitsap Counties, check here to find more information on how to get your home’s as-built drawings. A diagram of your septic system may also be included as part of your home inspection when you purchased the property. If you are able to get a hold of your home’s as-built drawing, be sure to look at the relative orientations of the tank and your house, and the distance from the tank to the side of the house that the sewer exits. Don’t forget that landmarks may change over time depending on when the tank was installed.

Dig Up the Lids

dig

An as-built drawing will indicate how many lids there are for your septic tank. Depending on your septic tank setup, your system may include two or three lids. Septic tanks are typically rectangular in shape and measure approximately 5 feet by 8 feet. In most cases, septic tank components including the lid, are buried between 4 inches and 4 feet underground. You can use a metal probe to locate its edges and mark the perimeter. If you do not find the lid by probing, shallow excavation with a shovel along the tank’s perimeter should reveal the lid.

Schedule Maintenance

Once you’ve located the tank and found the lids, it’s time to give FloHawks a call and schedule your maintenance service. Remember, do not attempt to open the tank yourself. Concrete septic tank lids are heavy, and many require specific lifting tools to remove. Most importantly, an open tank can be very dangerous because of its hazardous wastewater and toxic fumes. It’s best to leave this part to the professionals. If you are unable to find your septic system lids, or prefer FloHawks do it for you, skip the tips provided above and simply give us a call. Also, if you’d like to add risers to your septic tank for easy access in the future, FloHawks can do that too.

Disguise the Lids

Now that you have gone through the trouble of locating your tank, digging up the lids, and adding risers, you should keep that area clear and visible, so you don’t have to go through the same process next time you are due for septic tank maintenance. However, septic tank lids can be a bit of an eyesore! Some ways that you can hide your lids in plain sight are to cover them with an object like a lightweight plastic rock, a bird bath or a planter box.

FloHawks has been locating lids and servicing septic tanks since 1968. Our trained professionals are ready to help with all of your septic tank needs. Schedule service online or call us today at (800) 356-4295.