Whenever you have a number of guests in your home at the same time, plumbing issues may arise due to the capacity of your plumbing and septic system. This is because the system was designed to accommodate a certain number of people over a defined period of time. Problems can arise when you have more people using more water than the system can accommodate which can happen often during your Thanksgiving gathering. When this happens, it can definitely put a damper on your event in your home.
Here are some tips on how you can diagnose and fix some of the common problems that can occur:
Septic Tank Alarm Going Off
This can happen when more water than usual is being used over a short period of time. Extra added water in the tank may cause the system’s float to rise and trigger the alarm. If your system is on a timer, push the silence button and then don’t use much water over the next 24 hours so that the system can reset and the alarm light will deactivate. The reset involves the system syncing again with the pump so it starts to filter effluent into the drain field again.
Kitchen Sink is Clogged
These backups often happen due to food preparation and dishwashing. If food and grease flow into your drain and build up, your pipes clog and the result is a backup in the sink. First, place a plunger over the sink’s drain and have a rag handy to help clean up any residual water. Move the plunger up and down multiple times but don’t lift it off the drain. If your sink is still clogged, your p-trap may be malfunctioning. The device should be clearing your line and allowing the water to flow out. Clear the device and your sink should unclog. If this doesn’t work, call a professional plumber. At FloHawks, we can remove and clean the traps. Our technicians can also cable the line with a snake to clear the pipes. Don’t use drain cleaner because it can be toxic to septic systems.
Toilet is Backed-up
Use a plunger or toilet auger to clear the backup. If this doesn’t work, a professional plumber can simply remove your toilet and clear or remove anything that is causing the clog.
If these don’t work then FloHawks Can Help
We know that plumbing problems during family gatherings especially with Thanksgiving can present a challenge that should be handled quickly and professionally. If these DIY methods don’t do the trick, give us a call or schedule an appointment online. Our team of professional plumbers will be happy to help with any residential plumbing or septic system needs.
Identifying a failing septic system can be difficult to an untrained eye. If you notice any of the warning signs listed below or have any suspicions that your system may have problems, get it inspected by a licensed professional right away.
While it may be necessary to have the tank pumped during the repair process, pumping the tank alone will not correct a failing system. If your system is beyond repair, pumping a failing system is only a temporary solution and you may need a new system altogether.
Septic systems do not typically show signs of failure until they are in an advanced state of deterioration. There are a few telltale indicators that you may see when trying to determine if your onsite sewage system has failed:
Odors. A “rotten egg” odor inside or outside the house can be indicative of gases that are released during the decomposition processes.
A foul smelling, slimy, blackish liquid in the drainfield area or out of down-slope pipes or banks.
Standing water or damp soils in drainfield area or around septic tank area.
Soggy spots with lush, bright green grass.
Water that rises to the surface during heavy rain or when your water use is high, such as when doing laundry.
Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system
Surfacing sewage on the ground or discharging into surface waters. Sewage backing up into the toilets, bathtubs, or floor drains.
Constant plumbing backups. Slow draining sinks, toilets, and other fixtures.
It is not fair to assume that a total sewage system replacement is always needed. If you suspect that your system is failing, contact us for assistance. As a septic system repair and install professional, we are trained to properly identify system failures and provide you with individual solutions. Contact us today for an appointment.
FloHawks provides professional services for septic inspections and septic pumping as well as installation, repair, and maintenance of septic systems. FloHawks also provides plumbing and drain cleaning services for both residential and commercial customers.
Summer is the time for vacations, backyard barbecues, and relaxing by the pool – not the time you want to be worrying about your septic tank system. If you frequently entertain guests and have more people using your water facilities (toilets, dishwasher, showers, washing machine, etc.) then you may be unknowingly putting a strain on your septic tank system. This could lead to septic tank overflow, a saturated disposal area, unpleasant odors, and/or water pollution. Keep these tips in mind as you enjoy a healthy and safe summer.
1. If it didn’t go through your mouth – Don’t flush it.
A good rule of thumb is not to flush things into the septic that did not go through your mouth (except toilet paper). Your system likes items that will easily decompose. In the long term it will help your septic system to work longer with less maintenance. Summer is a great time for you and your family to review the list and share it with your guest. Avoid flushing:
Cat litter (even “flushable” types)
Grease and Oils
Feminine hygiene products / tampons
Static cling sheets
These items will quickly fill your septic tank with solids, decreasing its efficiency, and require it to be pumped out more frequently. They could also clog your septic system components or otherwise cause a system failure and a big mess.
2. Park vehicles away from the septic system.
Be sure you know where your septic system is located. And keep all vehicle traffic off the tank, pipes, and drain field/soil treatment area. The only exception is the lawn mower.
The area should remain clear of all heavy equipment, vehicles (including 4-wheelers), livestock, boats, and motor homes. The pressure from the vehicles can compact the soil or damage the system pipes resulting in costly repairs.
3. Pump your system before the party.
Check to see when the last time your septic tank was pumped. If you don’t know or if it has been more than three years, chances are it’s time for an inspection. You can greatly reduce the likelihood of failure, avoid costly repairs, and gain peace of mind by having your system regularly inspected and pumped as needed.
If you are hosting a large number of people, consider pumping your septic system prior to the party. The worst type of party foul is a leaky smelly mess in your yard. You may also consider renting a Honey Bucket portable toilet for the event to take the pressure off your septic system.
4. Landscape with love.
Summer may be the right time to do some landscaping renovations in your yard. But be mindful of any new plantings. Grass is the ideal cover for drain fields. You can also plant other very shallow-rooted plants or flowers. However keep in mind that if you don’t have risers installed, you will need to dig up the ground to access the tanks for inspection and pumping—generally every 3 to 5 years.
Avoid deep rooted plants, trees, shrubs, and vegetables over your system. As a general rule, trees and large shrubs should be kept at least 30 feet away from your drain field (depending on the root structure and soil type). Do not fertilize over the drain field.
Summer may come and go but proper maintenance can lead to a healthy and happy septic system that will last throughout the year. For more septic care tips to practice year-round click here.
As our economy continues to evolve, change seems to be the only constant we can count on. Change seems to touch every industry and market. This includes rules and regulations for septic inspections and pumping for home sales. You and your realtor need to stay informed on the changing requirements for septic pumping and inspections.
In the Puget Sound area, most counties have a minimum time frame in which you are required to have the entire system inspected and a report filed. Some of the counties require you to have the septic system pumped and inspected. Other counties are requiring owners to file an updated drawing of the property and septic location if there is not one on record.
When you do find yourself in need of an inspection, having the as-built drawing on hand is a great way to streamline the process. This negates the service company’s need to locate every piece of the system (which can be a lengthy process) before inspecting it and submitting their report. There are several counties who host a website that allows you search for a drawing by address (assuming the drawing has been previously submitted) and download it without any fuss. Other counties still require drawings to be requested in person or via fax.
Currently, no county in the Puget Sound area will hold up a sale for not having the septic system pumped or inspected (even though it is required). However, all counties have a follow-up process for properties that have been sold. The county will contact the current owner and require them to have the work done. This responsibility most often comes back around to the realtor to pay for the work and to meet county requirements.
For more information on septic inspections/pumping for home sales, please contact FloHawks at (800)-444-2371, or visit our web page (FloHawks.com). Click on the “County Reports/Resources” or “Property Sales” tab for more information.
What are some good tips to finding the right maintenance company for my septic system (onsite wastewater treatment system)?
March 1, 2013
So, we have been out of the blog-a-sphere for several months on a break. But, we are glad to be back and ready to discuss key issues that directly affects your investment in your septic system, i.e., your own onsite wastewater treatment system.
Before we went on a break, we talked a lot about the importance of “taking care” of your septic system by not putting certain things down the drain into your septic tank. The idea is that by following a list of do’s and don’ts to get the most life out of your septic systems though mainly doing routine maintenance such as inspecting and pumping out the septic tank. But, you may ask, who offers maintenance services for your septic system and how to find the “right” maintenance company for your system?
In this blog, we offer you tips to finding the “right” or appropriate company for maintenance of your septic system. First, let’s recap what entails in maintenance of your septic system. Depending on the type of septic system you have (a conventional septic drain field or one of many alternative engineered treatment and dispersal system), recommended maintenance service would included at the minimum following items:
Site visit once or twice a year for relatively simple system OR up to four times a year for more advanced system (discussion on system types later this year);
Inspection of treatment tank(s) to determine if any of the tank(s) need a pump-out (removal of accumulated bio-solids);
Inspection of effluent filter and cleaning of the filter;
Inspection of advanced treatment system and cleaning of treatment media;
Inspection of all the electro-mechanical parts such as pump(s), blower, and control system; and recording of pump operational data such as run-time, cycle count, alarm count, etc.;
Inspection of the drain field area for any sign of break-out and inspection of valves and other electro-mechanical parts present in the drain field area; and finally
Overall assessment of your onsite wastewater system performance and the need for making any changes/improvements to ensure that your system will operate till the next routine service call.
So, the first thing you should look for in a company that is trying sell you a maintenance service is what actually they would do when they come out to maintain your septic system. If you do not know what type of septic system you have, you need to find that out by calling your local permitting agency (typical local health department or local environmental agency) and asking them about your system type. You may also ask the maintenance company if they have any prior information/knowledge of your septic system and if they do not have that information would they be willing to help find out what system you have before you buy their services.
Following are the five key items you should look for when shopping for a maintenance service provider:
Knowledge and experience related to septic systems (conventional and advanced);
Track records in terms of number systems the company is servicing now;
Reputation of the company within the Onsite Wastewater Industry Group (for more information on this group visit http://www.wossa.org/)
Value-added services offered to better understand your septic system; and
Standing with BBB (Better Business Bureau).
The FloHawks team is ready to discuss with you maintenance of your septic system. We will also keep you informed and educated about your septic system through our blogs because we like well informed and educated (client to whom we can offer) value-added services.