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Thread: Question about Septic Fields

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia
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    3,220

    Question about Septic Fields

    I would like to get some opinions on septic fields.

    LOML and I have a small acreage and a septic field. The system is in good shape. We had it inspected and had some small repairs done to it before we bought our place. And the tank was pumped out too.

    LOML and I disagree on a few things:

    He says it's critical that we wipe off all dishes of all traces of food *before* washing them in the sink, and never put any fat/grease down the drain.

    I say as long as I don't put any large bits of food--which I don't because we don't have a garbage disposal--we don't have to worry about the rest, and I'm not wiping off dishes with paper towels before I wash them. I never deliberately but chunks of food down the kitchen sink drain. I never pour a big pan of grease down the sink either. But I don't think we have to make ourselves nuts over it either.

    What do you think?
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Posts
    2,070
    Here are a few links to some answers for you. We are on septic here and on Saltspring and we compost everything that we can and have two compost bins 4x4x4. Just a matter of educating yourself as to what you can and can't do. Grease is a big no, no as is extra food. I wouldn't go as far as wiping plates down first but just be aware of how much and what you are flushing down the drain. Just had outs pumped and at 365.00 a pop you don't want to be pumping it out all the time. A proper maintained system will last a long time with Minimal maintinence.


    http://www.associatedcontent.com/art...ic_system.html

    http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/publication...cts/AG-439-13/

    http://homebuying.about.com/cs/septi...eptic_care.htm

    http://www.buzzle.com/articles/septi...intenance.html
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Posts
    10,600
    I have had a septic system for the past 30 years. The septic guys have always told me never to put any of the septic tank cleaners or bacteria cleaners into the system. Just let the natural process do it's thing. They told me never use a garbage disposal, avoid putting grease down the drain, and to have it pumped every 2 years.
    It is totally unnecessary to wipe the dishes clean first. We just scrape the extra food into a garbage bag then either wash by hand or stick them in the dishwasher. Most newer dishwashers have a mini garbage disposal built in to them and they work just fine with a septic system.
    Septic systems also have a grease trap which is designed to keep the grease from going into the leaching field. It may have to be cleaned or snaked from time to time.
    I have never had a major problem with them.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Posts
    5,317
    Pretty much what Bob said - except our local regulations require that the tanks be pumped every three years.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Posts
    2,070
    pumping too often doesn't allow the bacteria to build up and work. A proper septic field should last a long time between pumpings. Here is a site with pumping recomendations for the # of house hold members and years

    http://www.desexc.com/?page_id=147
    Last edited by Drew Watson; 01-04-2011 at 03:22 PM.
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,825
    You will find advice all over the place.
    My practice is to not put large amounts of grease down the drain, I'll pour into the woods.
    Those who (supposedly) are in the know say to not use commercial tank cleaners as those just allow the solids to re-solidify in the leach field, not good.
    We put yeast down the system a few times a year when we will be away for a several days. This allows the bacteria to regenerate naturally and do the work they do so well when not killed with chemicals.
    I have had advice to have the tank pumped that ranges from yearly to every ten years. The tank cleaning service said every seven years. I am scheduling for every five years.
    Factors dictating frequency of cleaning are size of tank and size of family. e.g. a family of eight using a 500 gal. tank needs it more often than a retired family of two with a 1000 gal. tank.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    Posts
    4,351
    I don't know how big my tank is, it was already in place when we moved in, but since it's just two of us, I'm sure it's adequate. We had to have it pumped the first few months we were here which was over 5 years ago... we discovered we had a broken pipe into the tank, so I fixed that and have no problems since.. I do use the enzymes that have been recommended... I'm pretty sure my leach field is working well.... during summer times the grass over where I think the field is is always greener than the rest of the yard.

    We don't use the dish washer, but also watch what we put down the drain. I've had more problems with the house drain system than the septic... I have to flush the house about every 2 - 3 years... need to do it now or soon... the kitchen is draining a little slow.

    Excess foods on the plates were no problem until our big dog disappeared... he was originally the neighbor's dog, but when he died, his young widow more or less abandoned the dog and he moved in with us... he was a pit bull/mastiff mix I think... he almost looked more like a pig then a dog and ate like one. He would eat anything we put in his bowl.
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
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    2,070
    Lots of this also involves the percolation of the soil. If you live in a low area and your soil saturates when it rains and doesn't drain easily due to a water table or is too highly concentrated with clay, the field will not work as well. We live on a gravel bed with lots of sand and rock on high ground so our system works great but the neighbors across the street are in the lowest spot on the street and their field floods in heavy rain. it disapates quickly but still it causes the field to not work properly. They also have an old cedar septic tank (grand fathered) that was not cleaned out for 30 yrs and when it was it was found to only have 1/3 of it's capacity of waste. I remember as kids we never use to have out tanks pumped except when the system backed up (which never happened).
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    S E Washington State
    Posts
    3,777
    The only thing I can add is do not rely totally on the person pumping it to inspect it. I had mine pumped this fall, the "kid" said all looked good, even wrote it on the receipt. I went out to cover the tank over and, thought I'd have a look. The tank was very bad inside. There were holes in the wall separating the chambers. The second chamber was so deteriorated I could jam a shovel through it in places. I had it replaced. Glad I looked it probably would have collapsed in a matter of months.

    My old tank was 31 years old.
    Last edited by Paul Douglass; 01-04-2011 at 04:20 PM.
    "We the People ......"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan
    Posts
    955
    We found out we had an old steel tank for a septic when we moved into our house. After it collapsed I checked into a replacement system and found out I would need to put in a mound system which I didn't have room for.... So I did it on the sly and put in 2500 gallons worth of tanks and hooked it back up to the "drain field" Don't know where that goes. I use the tank additives and sometimes pour a gallon of sour milk down the hatch occasionally. I heard somewhere that this will really get the system cooking. Haven't pumped the tanks in over 10 years..........
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

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