Waste Water Treatment Plant Cleaning: Digester Maintenance in Salem, OR

In June and July of 2017, FloHawks was contracted by the City of Salem, OR to clean out two city digesters. In all, it took five guys, three pump trucks, and four weeks to pump and screen almost one-million gallons of material. The city then land applied the pumped material on properties around the area to help the soil and environment.  We love this kind of work and we are very good at it. Businesses and local governments of all sizes rely on our expertise. Our list of satisfied industrial pumping customers is large. We come prepared and armed with the latest in pumping and septic equipment and our technicians are able to pump, clean, empty, and transport large quantities of matter they produce, no matter the size. We pump high volumes of water, sludge, and anything in between, faster and more efficiently than anyone else in the industry. This saves businesses and municipalities a considerable amount of money and operational downtime. To learn more about our extensive in pumping and cleaning services, please contact us at 1-800-FloHawk or visit our website at www.flohawks.com.

Waste Water Treatment

Waste Water Treatment

Waste Water Treatment

Waste Water Treatment

Keep Tree Roots Out of Your Septic System: Advice from FloHawks

How to Keep Tree Roots Out of Your Septic SystemTrees provide many aesthetic and economic benefits. They improve air quality, reduce storm water runoff, and provide homes for wildlife. Planting trees in and around your home is great for reducing energy costs and providing much needed shade.

However, trees should never be planted near your septic system as the tree’s roots can become especially problematic. The areas in and around your septic tank and drain field have extra water, nutrients, and oxygen – all the essential life elements that trees and plants need to grow. Tree roots are especially good at seeking out what they need to thrive, and can eventually grow through small cracks or incompletely sealed joints into the lateral lines and/or other components of your septic system. Once inside, they can quickly grow large enough to restrict water flow. They can block or even break drainage and distribution pipes, and they can sometimes even penetrate the tank. Aside from sewer blockages and backups, tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are one of the most expensive septic maintenance items.

Here are some tips to prevent trees from uprooting your septic system:

Know where your septic tank and drain field are located. It is important to have a diagram of your system and where it is located on your property.  If you don’t have an “as-built” (a drawing of the septic system as it relates to your property), FloHawks can help. Be sure to keep accurate records of system maintenance and to keep these records in a safe place in your home.

Avoid planting in and around the area. Grass is the best cover for your septic system. Avoid planting flowers or other plant/tree arrangements too close to the drain pipe clean out or over the septic tank cover. They may be damaged or destroyed when you have to excavate to access the tank or cover.

Opt for slow-growing plants with less aggressive root systems. Before you plant a tree, find out about the nature of its root system. Slow-growing trees generally have less destructive roots than those that grow quickly. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to keep trees with spreading roots at least 30 feet away from water and sewer lines. If you plant anything, opt for wildflowers, smaller ornamental grasses, and non-woody perennials to plant over a septic system. These are plants with shallow roots, which will not invade the septic system’s piping.

Inspect your system once a year. No matter how well you care for your septic system, maintenance will be required. Regular septic inspections and maintenance can prevent root intrusion by discovering leaks early. The useful life of a system depends on a lot of factors including tree root intrusion and proper routine maintenance and pumping. Learn more septic care tips from FloHawks here.

Our professional FloHawks technicians are always available to help with your septic system or any other household plumbing issue. Call us today at 1-800-356-4295 or contact us online.

Plumbing Terms Glossary for Homeowners

At FloHawks we take pride in helping homeowners maintain their plumbing systems. Below are some common industry terms you may find helpful as you encounter plumbing issues of your own.


  • ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene) pipe: A flexible, thermoplastic pipe, black in color, used for gravity and pressure sanitary sewers.
  • ABS composite pipe: A sewer pipe with similar characteristics of ABS Pipe with the exception that filler material, like cement, is used. It is used for gravity sewers only.
  • ACP (Asbestos Cement Pipe) pipe: A Rigid Pipe manufactured from asbestos fiber and cement used for both gravity and pressure sanitary sewers.
  • Aerobic: Requiring the use of free oxygen. (Aerobic bacteria require oxygen to survive.)
  • Anaerobic: Not requiring the usage of free oxygen. (Anaerobic bacteria do not require free oxygen to live.)
  • As-Built: Drawing of septic system following installation – showing how it was built.
  • City sewer: A sewage disposal system operated by the city or county.
  • Cleanout: An access point in a pipe used for cleaning purposes.
  • Conventional gravity system: An on-site sewage system consisting of a septic tank and a subsurface spoil absorption system with gravity distribution of the effluent.
  • Conventional pressure distribution system: An on-site sewage system consisting of a septic tank and a subsurface soil absorption system with pressure distribution of the effluent.
  • Copper: A reddish-brown metal widely used for household plumbing pipes. It is primarily used for potable (drinkable) water.
  • CPVC: Chlorinated poly-vinyl chloride pipe is a type of plastic. CPVC can be used in both hot and cold potable water piping.
  • Drain field: Part of the home’s septic system, the drain field is a system of pipes that discharge bacterially treated wastewater from the septic tank into the soil for natural decontamination.
  • Effluent: Liquid discharged from a septic tank or other on-site sewage system component.
  • Energy Star: A program which provides certification to electrical appliances and other products (e.g., dishwashers and washing machines) which meet certain energy efficiency standards.
  • Fitting: A device designed to control and guide the flow of water. Examples include faucets, shower heads, shutoff valves, shower valves, and drinking fountain spouts.
  • Fixture: A device that provides a supply of water and/or its disposal. Examples include toilets, sinks, and bathtubs.
  • Gallons per flush (GPF): A measure of the total volume of water (in gallons) required to flush a toilet.
  • Gallons per minute (GPM): A measure of the rate at which water flows through a fixture or fitting at a certain pressure. It is measured by the number of gallons flowing from the device in one minute at a given water supply pressure.
  • Gray water: Waste water from sinks, showers, and bathtubs – but not toilets.
  • Grease trap: A device that captures grease entering a system before it reaches the sewer lines. Commonly used in commercial applications such as restaurants or cafeterias.
  • P-trap: A sink drainpipe designed in the shape of a “P” that runs from the sink and down through the floor to the main drain piping. The shape is designed to trap a small quantity of water in the pipe, preventing sewer odors from entering your home.
  • Polybutylene: This soft, gray, or blue plastic pipe was widely used from the mid- 1970s to the mid-90s. Since then, it has become known that polybutylene deteriorates over time and leaks.
  • Porcelain enamel: A coating used on metal fixtures, such as cast-iron sinks and bathtubs. Porcelain enamel gives metal plumbing fixtures their colors and desirable glossy surfaces.
  • Pressure distribution: A system of small diameter pipes equally distributing effluent throughout a trench or bed.
  • Pump chamber: A tank or compartment following the septic tank which contains a pump, floats and volume for storage of effluent.
  • Repair: Restoration, by reconstruction or relocation, or replacement of a failed on-site sewage system.
  • Residential sewage: Sewage having the constituency and strength typical of wastewater from domestic households.
  • Scum: Accumulated solids that form a floating mat on the surface of the effluent in the septic tank. Including but not limited to fats, oils and grease (FOGs).
  • Septic system: The complete system of sewage removal, including the drain field, septic tank, and associated piping.
  • Septic tank: The underground holding tank that serves a home that does not have a connection to the local city or county sewage pipes. The term “septic” refers to the anaerobic bacteria that live in the tank and decompose the waste discharged into the tank.
  • Septic tank inspection: Inspection of the actual holding tank of the septic system and drain field to ensure it is still water tight and working properly.
  • Sewage: Any urine, feces, and the water carrying human wastes, including kitchen, bath, and laundry wastes from residences, buildings, industrial establishments or other places. Also see residential sewage.
  • Sewer connection: The place where a household sanitary sewer system connects to the city or municipality sewer system.
  • Shutoff valve: Valves installed under sinks and toilets used to shut off water supply in the event of a malfunction or repair. Also called an Angle Stop, Straight Stop, or Supply Stop.
  • Sludge: Settled solids accumulated in the bottom of a septic tank or in the settling tanks at a wastewater treatment plant.
  • Treatment component: An approved method or device for treatment of sewage to a level that is suitable for more treatment and dispersal into the subsurface by the disposal component.
  • Valve: A device that regulates the flow of water. In plumbing, valves are used in faucets and showers, and control the mix of hot and cold water.
  • Wastewater: Any water that is used in a process or sewer system becomes wastewater or graywater and must be treated before reuse.

Don’t see what you are looking for? Not sure what’s going on with your plumbing? Contact us with any question about your plumbing system or maintenance and our friendly professionals at FloHawks will be happy to help.

Water Heater Maintenance Tips from FloHawks

Residential Water HeaterLike other household appliances, regularly maintaining your home’s hot water heater can extend its useful life. Because we rely on water heaters daily, it’s important to make sure they are properly maintained. A regular maintenance schedule can keep it running for its 15-year expected lifetime and possibly beyond. Follow FloHawks’ water heater maintenance tips below.

  • You can improve the efficiency of an older unit by insulating it with a fiberglass jacket. Newer units are already insulated so check your owner’s manual to make sure.
  • Test the valve. Both gas and electric water heaters have a safety device called a temperature and pressure relief valve. If too much pressure ever builds up in the tank, the relief valve opens and releases the pressure. This will prevent damage to your tank. Open the valve, let the tank release some water. If the valve stops then you know it is in good working order. If not, then you will need to replace it.
  • Flush the system. At least once a year, drain several gallons out of your water heater using the drain valve. This will help to remove sediment and debris and will also help to make the unit operate more quietly. Sediment buildup in the tank can reduce your water heater’s energy efficiency and also clog your water lines. You can flush the system by connecting a garden hose to the drain valve and letting the water run into a bucket until the water is clear. Be sure to run it to a place where the hot water will not cause damage.
  • Check the water temperature. One major sign that your hot water heater has reached the end of its useful life is fluctuations in temperature. If your heater is not producing hot water or produces less hot water than it used to, chances are you need to get it repaired or replaced. Set the thermostat to 120 degrees. You will save up to 5% in energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature, plus you’ll reduce the risk of scalding.

If your heater is old, leaks, makes loud noises, or fails to consistently produce hot water, it is probably at the end of its useful life. If you are experiencing any of these issues or any others with your water heater, the professionals at FloHawks will be happy to inspect your unit. They can help you diagnose and fix any problems with your water heater or help you replace the existing one within your home.

Both electric and gas heaters can be very dangerous so do not risk trying to fix a problem on your own – it’s best to leave it to a professional like FloHawks. Learn more about FloHawks’ professional water heater installation and repair services here. Our FloHawks technicians are available 24/7 to help you with your water heater or any other household plumbing or septic issue. Call us today at 1-800-356-4295 or contact us online.

Septic Stench: What That “Rotten Egg Smell” Means and What to do About It

A sewer gas odor can come from your household septic system or the sanitary sewer system. If you notice a foul smell that is causing a problem in your home, it may be sewer gas.

What is sewer gas?

what is rotten egg smellSewer gas is a complex mixture of toxic and non-toxic gasses that can be present at varying levels depending upon the source. It is formed during the decay of household waste, typically the anaerobic decomposition of sewage and sludge.

Sewer gas is mostly methane, which is odorless, but it’s almost always mixed with other gasses, the most common being hydrogen sulfide (chemically, H2S). Sewer gas can also contain ammonia, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, and, hydrogen. Methane gas can displace oxygen, especially in a confined space, and be deadly.

The hydrogen sulfide gas results from decomposing organic material and can be produced by human and animal wastes. At low levels, it has a strong odor similar to rotten eggs. Under normal conditions, hydrogen sulfide is colorless, flammable gas. Beside the offensive odor, sewer gas can be hazardous, especially over an extended period.

Is it Dangerous?

Fortunately for us, we can generally smell Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) at very low levels and far below what could be toxic so smelling the gas does not always mean that it will make you sick. However, at higher levels, your nose can become overwhelmed by the gas, and we lose our ability to smell it. At higher levels, H2S gas can make you sick and could be fatal. Although hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas, it will not harm people at the concentrations that exist in a house with sewer gas odor problems.  Not enough gas is generated in the sewers for concentrations to approach the dangerous level in the home.

However, if a person were to enter a tunnel, hole, or tank that contained sewage undergoing anaerobic breakdown (such as your septic tank), there is a chance he or she could become poisoned and the impact could be fatal. Never enter your septic tank. This is a job best left to trained professionals. If your tank requires inspection, call FloHawks. We have the proper training, equipment, and expertise to safely get the job done.

Where does it come from?

sewer gasSmelling sewer gas in your home means that something, somewhere along the plumbing lines isn’t working as it should. A common source of sewer gas odors in the home is a “dry trap.” All drains to a sewer system have a “P” shaped trap that is usually filled with water, which provides a seal to keep out sewer gas. A dry trap occurs when a sink, shower, floor drain, or toilet is not used for a long time, and the water in the trap eventually evaporates out, allowing the sewer gas to enter. If you have a dry trap, the solution is relatively simple – you can pour a quart or so of water into your sinks, showers, tubs, and floor drains to make sure the unused drain traps are filled with water.

Another possible source of sewer gas is a break or leak in the sewer drain line that allows sewer gas to seep into a crawl space or basement, and then into your home. Clogged drains or a blockage at the septic tank can also cause sewer gasses to back up into the building. Unfortunately, this solution is not a simple do it yourself. But FloHawks can help.

Our trained and experienced professionals provide inspections, line cleaning, and can repair your system to get it back in working order – without the extra sewer smells. Call FloHawks anytime at 1-800-356-4295 or use our convenient Schedule Your Service to schedule a time that’s best for you.