The Septic Advisor Blog
Monday, January 8, 2018

Florida - Financing Repairs

 

Multiple programs provide financing for septic repairs (see bottom of page). 

We adivse that you also evaluate self-financing. If you own the property that needs a repair, you will almost always get a better loan deal by financing yourself. Ask your bank about a homeowner line-of-credit.  This is similar to a second mortgage but better. With a homeowner Line of credit you get a better interest rate and your minimum payment per month will be much less. Typically, if cash is tight you can get by, just paying slightly more than the interest charge each month and can pay down the principle when it is more convenient. Pay your mortgage first, then pay your line-of-credit. The advantage of this approach is that you can also employ the cost controls mentioned on the Septic Advisor website. We recommend minimizing the amount you borrow and paying off the principle as soon as you can.   I use a line of credit myself and found it took away a lot of financial worry

Our research found the following programs that provide grants and loans for septic system construction in Florida.

1. USDA Section 502 Direct Loan Programs AND Section 504 Single Family Housing Loans and Grants.  These programs include grants (up to $7500) and loans (up to $20,000) that can be combined and can be for septic system repairs. Go to the USDA Florida weblink.  Or contact your local Office.
    Crestview Area: 850-682-2416
    Marianna Area: 850-526-2610
    Lake City Area: 386-719-5590
    Ocala Area: 352-732-7534
    Champions Gate Area: 863-420-4833
    Royal Palm Beach Area: 561-792-2727
      N. Fort Myers Sub-Office : 239-997-7331
    St Croix & Virgin Islands Area: 340-773-9146.

2.  Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans.  See weblink.

3. Various County & City Programs. We also have information on county and city programs, please sign in and leave a message that says "Septic Repair Financing" and tell us the City & State where you reside.

If you know of any Local Septic Repair Financing programs, please add a comment to this blog and tell us about the program.

Posted By SA.Worx at 9:07 AM Labels: Septic Financing Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Friday, January 5, 2018

Michigan (MI)

This forum is intended for discussion about septic system regulatory/permitting issues in Michigan, such as:

  • Inspection requirements
  • Pumping requirements
  • New construction requirements
  • What must the Owner do if the system fails?
  • What is the difference between a small system and a large system?

 

What can a statewide septic system code in Michigan accomplish ?

Michigan State University Professor Joan Rose led a team which studied septic system pollution of Michigan waterways.
Read this study here.

Reporting by the Detroit Free Press noted that Michigan does not have a statewide septic system code.
Read this article here.

Development of a state septic code would certainly be beneficial.  First, uniform statewide standards would likely lead to steamlining the training and certification of septic system professionals.  The development of standardized training and certification would enable Michigan DEQ to focus public and private resources on the most effective strategies.  For example:  What resources should be directed toward septic system pumping and maintenance and how much effort should go toward drain field reconstruction and rehabilitation, and over what period of time ?

Second, DEQ would probably be able to streamline criteria for septic system inspections. A predictable inspection process would help bring down costs.

However, all of the maintenance, pumping and inpsection in the world will not solve the nationwide problem: many, many septic system drain fields are in the water table or not far enough above the water table. Many others are located too close to lakes, rivers and streams.  A statewide code can address this for new septic systems built, or when buildings are expanded or renovated.  And this will accomplish a lot in the long run. But a statewide set of rules will not address the fundamental problem of how to pay for getting existing drain fields out of the water table.

Once drain fields are rebuilt, at some considerable expense, then it makes little sense to neglect ongoing maintenance. And coordinated state action can facilitate those efforts.

Posted By SA.Worx at 12:51 AM Labels: Regulatory Issues Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Septic System Flood Damage

This article was originally written in response to flooding events in San Jose, California (CA).  We have decided to republish it in response to recent flooding events in southeast Texas and Florida.   The recent hurricanes have had devasting impacts on many families.   The septic system may not be a high priority right now, but replacing a flooded septic system can be costly.  We would like to help these familiies by informing them about methods to prevent, minimize, or fix septic system flood damage. 

In order to setup this discussion, the profile of a "typical" septic system is provided below.

Septic system flood damage depends on flood level

As shown above, two different flood levels are considered:

Flood Level A - is a lower level flood that extends only over the leach field.   Flood Level A will flood the leach field and and D-box.   It may also partially flood the septic tank by flowing back through the piping from the D-box.  If the Septic tank isn't flooded, there is a good chance that your leach field may recover.

Flood Level B - is a higher level of flood that extends over the top of the septic tank. Flood Level B is likely to flood the leach field, D-box, and septic tank.   In this case, it may be more difficult to recover the leach field.  Flooding the septic tank will cause the floatables (fats, oils and grease) to float over the outlet baffle and drain into the leach field.  The fats oils and grease will then plug the leach field and cause the system to fail with sewage coming to the surface over the leach field.

Knowing that the leach field failure is due to plugging by fats, oils and grease, we may be able to prevent failure or develop methods for more rapid recovery of a flooded leach field.  If you live in a flood prone area please consider the following ideas.

Septic System Flood Damage - Prevention

Methods to prevent fats, oils and grease from reaching the leach field include:

  1. Frequent (annual) pumping of the septic tank will reduce the amount of fats, oils and grease.  WARNING! Do not pump out the septic tank when the area is flooded or there is high groundwater.  Septic tanks (full of air) can float up.  A tank that floats up  1/2-inch can break the pipes connected to the tank. 
  2. Using a two compartment tank - the second compartment helps retain more of the fats oils and grease in a flooded situation.
  3. Using a septic tank outlet filter - these help retain the fats oils and grease inside the septic tank even when the septic tank is flooded.  Septic tank outlet filters require regular mantenance  and should be cleaned 1 to 2 times per year.
  4. Adding Ballast to septic tank - You may also be able to prevent septic tank "floating" by adding weight to the top of the septic tank.  The ballast required depends on the tank construction.  We recommend that you find a local designer that can evaluate the tank condition (ability to support ballast) and determine an appropriate way to add ballast.  If a tank has adequate ballast, it can be pumped after the flood water level is below the top of the tank.  The pumping removes fats, oils and grease in the septic tank before they can plug the leach field.  This will also allow you to continue to use the toilets while the leach field is drying out.

 

Septic System Flood Damage - Recovery

Methods to help a flooded leach field recover include:

  1. Stop using the system while it is flooded and allow it to dry out before using it again after the flood.
  2. Install a leach field vent to allow better air circulation through the leach field, allowing it to dry out faster.  In some cases providing two vents (e.g. a high vent at the D-box and a low vent at the far end of the leach field) can help the system dry out much faster.  The high vent experiences higher wind speeds and sucks the air out of the system while the low vent allows fresh air to flow into the system.
  3. Adding a wind turbine or electric blower to the system vent can provide a greater flow of fresh air through the system.
  4. Adding a fine bubble aerator to the septic tank.   This will put greater oxygen in the liquid leaving the tank.

 

Adding more air to the system and adding more oxygen into the liquid waste can also help a leach field that is plugged due to fats oils and grease.   The increased oxygen will  help aerobic bacteria metabolize (breakdown) the fats oils and grease.  We have seen cases where the leach field is plugged (with sewage coming out of the ground) and a septic tank aerator "fixed" the leach field in about 6 to 12 months.

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:25 PM Labels: Flood Damage Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Monday, September 4, 2017

Texas - Financing Repairs

Some local Installers provide financing for septic repairs (see bottom of page). 

We adivse that you also evaluate self-financing. If you own the property that needs a repair, you will almost always get a better loan deal by financing yourself. Ask your bank about a homeowner line-of-credit.  This is similar to a second mortgage but better. With a homeowner Line of credit you get a better interest rate and your minimum payment per month will be much less. Typically, if cash is tight you can get by just paying slightly more than the interest charge each month and can pay down the principle when it is more convenient. Pay your mortgage first, then pay your line-of-credit. The advantage of this approach is that you can also employ the cost controls mentioned on the Septic Advisor website. We recommend minimizing the amount you borrow and paying off the principle as soon as you can.   I use a line of credit myself and found it took away a lot of financial worry

Our research found the following programs that provide grants and loans for septic system construction in Texas.

  1. USDA Rural Development Funding - Program 101. This program provides grants for septic system installation or repair to low income homeowners.  Contact: 254-742-9789 or got to weblink
  2. USDA Section 502 Direct Loan Programs - Single Family Home Loans.  Contact: 254-742-9700 or go to weblink
  3. USDA Section 504 Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants.  Contact: 254-742-9709 or go to weblink
    .

Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans. See weblink.

Financing may also be provided by local septic system installers:
Aerobic System Inspection & Maintenance: 979-774-3190 [College Station, TX]
AES Septic: 281-766-7442 [Magnolia, TX ]
Papa's Plumbing & Septic: 877-959-4243  [Canton, TX]  Ask about financing.
Big Papa Joes [Pinehurst TX] website

 

 

Posted By SA.Worx at 12:07 AM Labels: Septic Financing Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Monday, September 4, 2017

Michigan - Financing Repairs

Multiple programs provide financing for septic repairs (see bottom of page). 

We adivse that you also evaluate self-financing. If you own the property that needs a repair, you will almost always get a better loan deal by financing yourself. Ask your bank about a homeowner line-of-credit.  This is similar to a second mortgage but better. With a homeowner Line of credit you get a better interest rate and your minimum payment per month will be much less. Typically, if cash is tight you can get by, just paying slightly more than the interest charge each month and can pay down the principle when it is more convenient. Pay your mortgage first, then pay your line-of-credit. The advantage of this approach is that you can also employ the cost controls mentioned on the Septic Advisor website We recommend minimizing the amount you borrow and paying off the principle as soon as you can. 
I use a line of credit myself and found it took away a lot of financial worry.

Our research found the following programs that provide grants and loans for septic system construction in Michigan.

 

1. USDA Section 502 Direct Loan Programs AND Section 504 Single Family Housing Loans and Grants.
    USDA State Office: 800-944-8199; 517-324-5156 (single family home program) or go to weblink.
    Gladstone Office: 906-428-1060 x4
    Saulte Sainte Marie Office: 906-632-9611 x4
    Traverse City Office: 231-941-0951 x4
    West Branch Office: 989-345-5470 x4
    Carol Area Office: 989-673-8173 x6
    Grand Rapids Office: 616-942-4111 x6
    Paw Paw Office: 269-657-7055 x4
    Mason Area Office: 517-676-1808 x4
    Flint Office: 810-230-8766 x4

 

2. US Dep of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).  In MIchigan these programs focus on consumer financial counseling.   There are more than 20 agencies in the state that provide financial counseling for home improvement repairs.   It is anticipated that these entities would direct the homeowner to programs that would decrease the cost of septic repairs.   If any readers are interested in knowing the contact information for these agencies please comment to the blog below indicating the region (city) of interest. Near Jackson MI we found the following:
   Michigan State University - Washentaw.  Tel: 734-997-1678 (Ann Arbor MI)
   Center for Financial Health.  Tel: 517-708-2550 (Lansing, MI)
   Habitat for Humanity of Michigan.  Tel: 517-485-1006 (Lansing MI)

3. City of Jackson, Michigan - Department of Neighborhood & Economic Operations. 517-768-6407.  weblink.

 

4. Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.  This agency provides access to home improvement grants (subject to meeting age, income and/or disability requirements) which can be applied to septic system repairs.  
   Jackson County Office: 517-780-7400

 

5. Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).  The Property Improvement Program (PIP) provides loans to homeowners to make major system repairs, including septic systems.  Tel: 517-373-8870.  See weblink.  Also see the Step Forward Michigan (866-946-7432) forgivable loan program.

6. Federal Housing Loan Bank of Indianapolis (FHLBI) - Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP). The NIP assists existing homeowners with income less than 80% of area median income (AMI) by providing subsidies of up to $7500 for home repairs including septic systems.  The concept is to find a local lender (bank) or constuction agency that is affiliated with the FHLBI which could provide this subsidy to significantly reduce the amount financing required from other sources. Tel: 513-420-9193.

7. Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans.  See weblink.

Comment:  Our research finds many agencies that are participating in the above programs.  If you have a question about a specific area (city) we may be able to provide contact information for nearby septic financing.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted By SA.Worx at 11:49 AM Labels: Septic Financing Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Monday, September 4, 2017

Ohio - Financing Repairs

Multiple programs provide financing for septic repairs (see bottom of page). 

We adivse that you also evaluate self-financing. If you own the property that needs a repair, you will almost always get a better loan deal by financing yourself. Ask your bank about a homeowner line-of-credit.  This is similar to a second mortgage but better. With a homeowner Line of credit you get a better interest rate and your minimum payment per month will be much less. Typically, if cash is tight you can get by, just paying slightly more than the interest charge each month and can pay down the principle when it is more convenient. Pay your mortgage first, then pay your line-of-credit. The advantage of this approach is that you can also employ the cost controls mentioned on the Septic Advisor website. We recommend minimizing the amount you borrow and paying off the principle as soon as you can.   I use a line of credit myself and found it took away a lot of financial worry

Our research found the following programs that provide grants and loans for septic system construction in Ohio.

1. USDA Section 502 Direct Loan Programs AND Section 504 Single Family Housing Loans and Grants.
    USDA Ohio Office: 614-255-2402 or go to weblink.
    NE Office - Massillon: 330-830-7700
    SE Office - Marietta: 740-373-7113
    SW Office - Hillsboro: 937-393-0920
    NW Office - Findlay: 419-422-0242.

2. Canton Department of Community Development - Home Repair & Maintenance Program.  Provides grants and no intereset loans.  Contact: City of Canton, Dept. of Community Development, PO Box 24218, Canton, OH 44701.  Tel: 330-489-3040.  See weblink.

3. Cleveland Division of Neighborhood Services. Contact: 601 Lakeside Av, Room 302, Cleveland OH 44114.  Tel: 216-664-2045.   See weblink

4. NHS of Greater Cleveland - Home Repair Program.  Tel: 216-458-4663 x2330.  See weblink.

5. Cuyahoga County Dept. of Development - 4COM Home Repair Loans.  Tel: 216-348-4066 .  See weblink.

6. Middleton Neighborhood Housing Services.  Tel: 513-420-9193.

7. Hamilton Neighborhood Housing Services.  Tel: 513-737-9301.

8. Neighborhood Housing Partnership (NHP) of Greater Springfield.  This program has loans and grants for repairs.  Contact: 527 East Home Road, Sp ringfield, OH 45503.  Tel: 937-322-4623.  See weblink.

9.  Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans.  See weblink.

Posted By SA.Worx at 11:48 AM Labels: Septic Financing Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

New York (NY)

In New York (state) small residential onsite watewater treatment systems (septic systems <1,000 GPD) are are regulated under Chapter II of Title 10 (Health) in state codes and regulations.  The state Department of Health (DOH) assists the local Health Departments (county and district) to review and permit these systems. The County Health Departments may institute additional requirements beyond those set by the state.   Please note that any wastewater system placed within the watershed of a NYC drinking water source may require additional review and permitting from the NYC DEP.

Onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) serving private, commercial, and/or institutional (PCI) facilities of intermediate size (system flow >1,000 GPD and <10,000 GPD) are permitted under the State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  Most of these systems fall under a SPDES General Permit.  Individual SPDES permits may be required for systems with higher flow, located within a sensitive groundwater area, or including non-domestic wastewater components. 

Systems operating under a NY SPDES permit may require regular inspections.   New York state codes do not require regular inspection nor inspection at time of property transfer for small residential systems.   In some cases, the county codes require inspections prior to property sale (e.g. Allegany, Cayuga and others).  Counties may also mandate inspections at other times; e.g. Chatauqua County requires inspection of older septic systems located within 250-ft of lakes.  Use  the Septic Advisor "Find Health Agencies" tool (located above the advertisements) to contact your county or district "Environmental Health"  program to learn what is required where you live.

Do you know when your system must be inspected?  Do you know what situations are exempt from inspections?  Are there any special conditions or rules in your county?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:20 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues , Septic Inspection Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Mexico (NM)

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) sets minimum standards for onsite wastewater disposal (septic systems) in NM Adminstrative Codes 20.7.3.501 NMAC. This code provides standards for construction and operation of in-ground septic systems and evapo-transpirations systems (lagoons). System permitting is managed by the NMED Liquid Waste Program through various District offices. Bernalillo County has additional regulations for septic systems. Contact your local District field office (or District Specialist) to find out what rules apply and to obtain permits for most residential & small commercial system.   Larger systems (>5,000 GPD) require permits from the NMED Ground Water Quality Bureau.

New Mexico onsite wastewater codes require septic system inspections ("evaluations") for most property transfers.  Older systems (>30-yrs old) may require more frequent inspections.  Advanced treatment systems and pump systems require more regular inspections.  Changes in ownership of advanced treatment system will require the new Owner to apply for an new operating permit.  Do you know when your system must be inspected?  Do you know what situations are exempt from inspections?  Are there any special conditions or rules in your County or District?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:19 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues, Septic Inspection Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Montana (MT)

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MTDEQ) sets minimum standards for septic systems (Circular DEQ-4).  Many Counties have promulgated more stringent standards.  Contact your local county (or district) Sanitarian or Environmental Health Department to find out what rules apply and to obtain permits for most residential systems.  Larger systems may require permits from the MTDEQ Subdivision Review Program or the MT Groundwater Pollution Control System (for non-residential wastewater).

Codes require frequent inspection of large systems. Residential systems are inspected less frequently. Do you know when your system must be inspected?   Do you know what situations are exempt from inspections?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:18 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues, Septic Inspection Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Massachusetts (MA)

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA-DEP) sets minimum standards for septic systems (310 CMR 15, referred to as Title 5). Some cities and towns have promulgated more stringent standards. Contact your local city/town (or district) Board of Health or Health Department to find out what rules apply and to obtain permits for most residential systems. Large systems (>2,000 GPD) are often permitted by the local agency with assistance from the regional DEP office.  Systems larger than 10,000 GPD require permits from the MA-DEP Groundwater Discharge Program.

Massachusett codes require frequent inspection of large systems (quarterly inspections are often required).   In most cases, inspections of residential systems are only required for property transfers.  However, if your system includes a pump, more frequent testing may be required by local codes.  If your septic system includes Innovative or Alternative (I/A) technology, your system permit may specify an inspection frequency.   Do you know when your system must be inspected?  Do you know what situations are exempt from inspections?  Are there any special conditions or rules in your town?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:17 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues, Septic Inspection Add Comment closed Comments (1)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Delaware (DE)

This forum is intended for discussion about septic system regulatory/permitting issues in Delaware, such as:

  • Inspection requirements
  • Pumping requirements
  • New construction requirements
  • What must the Owner do if the system fails?
  • What is the difference between a small system and a large system?
Posted By SA.Worx at 8:16 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Delaware (DE)

This forum is intended for discussion about septic system regulatory/permitting issues in Delaware, such as:

  • Inspection requirements
  • Pumping requirements
  • New construction requirements
  • What must the Owner do if the system fails?
  • What is the difference between a small system and a large system?
Posted By SA.Worx at 8:11 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Maryland (MD)

 

This forum is intended for discussion about septic system regulatory/permitting issues in Maryland, such as:

  • Inspection requirements
  • Pumping requirements
  • New construction requirements
  • What must the Owner do if the system fails?
  • What is the difference between a small system and a large system?

 

BAT Regulations

Recent changes in Maryland septic system regulations shows the disconnect between pollution producers (septic systems) and the pollution consumer (the aquatic ecosystem).

Even properly functioning septic systems discharge nitrate, a plant nutrient, into the ground and groundwater. When justifying the extra cost of nitrogren reduction technology, there are two fundamental challenges. First, the nitrogen produced upstream may only have a negative affect many miles away. In a watershed, the largest water body is the ultimate consumer of the nitrogen discharged upstream.

Second,there can be a significant time lag between reducing nitrogen in the remote areas of the watershed, and the measurable decrease in nitrate in the largest receiving water body.  In the meantime, use of the more expensive technology becomes difficult to justify.

Failing septic systems can be an immediate health hazard.  Nitrogen discharges are a longer term problem for the ecosystem as a whole.  When financial resources for septic systems are limited, which problem should be the priority ?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:11 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Texas (TX)

This forum is intended for discussion about septic system regulatory/permitting issues in Texas, such as:

  • Inspection requirements
  • Pumping requirements
  • New construction requirements
  • What must the Owner do if the system fails?
  • What is the difference between a small system and a large system?
Posted By SA.Worx at 8:10 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Florida (FL)

This forum is intended for discussion about septic system regulatory/permitting issues in Florida.

Inspection requirements:  Legislative House Bill 285 (HB 285), would require septic system inspections before a property sale. The lead sponsor of the Bill is Representative Randy Fine of the 53rd District.  Septic system inspections, whether they are undertaken voluntarily by property owners, or required by law, will not create a fool proof system. There will be systems teetering on failure that will pass.  In a few cases, systems may be deemed in failure, which may not be failed. But one thing is for sure, septic system inspections will identify more of those systems which are the greatest threat to public health.  And when the property owner pays for the inspection, the property owner ususally has the option of obtaining a second opinion.

Other Florida septic topics include :

  • Pumping requirements
  • New construction requirements
  • What must the Owner do if the system fails?
  • What is the difference between a small system and a large system?
Posted By SA.Worx at 8:06 PM Labels: Regulatory Issues, Septic Inspection Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Monday, January 9, 2017

Septic Questions

If you have a question about any aspect of onsite wastewater treatment and disposal (septic systems).  You can ask it here and get responses from our membership as well as the Septic-Advisor Pros.

 

How can I find out if I have an abandoned cess pool or drain field in my yard ?

CBS news reports on septic "sink holes," abandoned underground leach chambers, cesspools, or septic tank which have caved in. Typically, the septic system designer identifies the approximate location of these failed chambers or tanks, and directs the construction contractor to uncover them, crush them, and backfill them with soil.  When the construction contractor installs the replacement drain field, they rely on the designer to call out all of the required work.  Without direction from the designer, the construction contractor does not have any reason to try to locate and crush the old drain field.

If you have concerns about whether or not you might have a septic sink hole somewhere in your yard, the best way to discover them is to hire a company equipped with "ground penetrating radar" which can identify areas of the yard where there are undeergrond pockets of less compact soil.  This can be expensive ($500 to $1000 per day); and it is not necessarily foolproof; but when there are no old layout plans available suggesting where a construction contractor should look and dig, this is the best tool available.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sinkhole-danger-old-septic-tanks/

Posted By SA.Worx at 1:52 PM Labels: Septic Questions Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tree roots in drain fields

Roots of shrubs and trees can interfere with the components of a septic system.  Roots can grow into drain fields, sometimes interfering with flow into the drain field.  Roots can also prevent water from properly flowing out of the drain field.

Tree root interference is readily avoided when the property is first developed and the drain field is constructed.  We assume that the roots of trees extend at least as far out as the reach of the tree branches.  Contractors take this into account and remove any trees and stumps which could reach within 10 feet of the septic system components. 

However, the tree root problem typically arises when the original drain field has to be replaced with a larger drain field.  As septic system requirements become more stringent, larger drain fields may be required.  And sometimes, those nice shade trees in the back yard have to go.

We saw this recently in a situation where some very healthy white pines provided shade and a visual buffer from the neighbor's yard.  When we saw how poorly the soils under the original drain field performed in accepting liquid from the septic system, we were required to install a larger drain field. The lot was 100 feet wide, with the white pines standing at one end.  Also, the back yard was not deep enough to support anything wider than a 2 trench leach field.  Those two trenches had to be 75 feet long.  The pine trees reached out 25 feet beyond the tree trunks.  Unable to design anything that would allow the large pine trees to remain, we called for them to be removed.

When the contractor dug up the original distribution box and failed drain field, he in fact found that the end nearest the white pines was riddled with roots from those trees.  No one anticipated this when the lot was platted 30 years ago, when the trees were much smaller, and the septic codes allowed smaller drain fields. 

Posted By SA.Pace at 9:46 AM Labels: Problems Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Friday, February 26, 2016

Septic System Additives

Septic system additives are often promoted as environmentally safe and helping your system have a longer life.  There are many opposing opinions about a vast number of additives.  We would like to hear your opinion on this subject.  What additives have you used and what were the results?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:30 PM Labels: Septic Additives Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Waterless Toilets

Waterless toilets include composting toilets, incinerating toilets and others.   Waterless toilets are getting greater press in regions with water shortages.  Do the waterless toilets really have a significant impact on water use?  We would like to hear from people with experience using, installing and maintaining any of the various waterless toilets.  What are the pros and cons of these technologies?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:05 PM Labels: Waterless toilets Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Septic Tanks: Installing Aerators

Installing aerators in septic tanks has been shown to help remediate failed septic systems in some cases,  These appear to be most effective at remediating systems with high BOD waste, such as bakeries, restautrants, pubs, etc.

Often the aerators are placed in an existing septic tank.  We would like find out if these aerators upset the settling of solids or the capture of fats, oils and grease within the septic tank.  What is the best location for the aerator; near the tank inlet or near the tank outlet? Do these work better in two compartment tanks?  If you have any experience with septic tank aerators, we would appreciate your comments.

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:03 PM Labels: Septic Tanks Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Septic Odors: Strong Persistent Odors

A recent septic system upgrade started generating strong and persistent odors in the yard around the house.  These odors would remain strong at distances more than 100-ft from the house.  The odors were coming from the roof vent which was a 2-inch diameter plastic pipe that was cut off about 3-inches above the shingles; this was well below the roof ridge. Replumbing the interior piping to install a larger diameter vent was considered prohibitively costly.

Our first "low-cost" recommendation was to extend the roof vent upwards about 3-ft, putting it above the roof ridge to increase the draw from the vent due to higher wind speed.  The Owner loosely placed a 4-inch diameter pipe over the existing vent.   This did not work.  A discussion for another day.

We believe the strongest most persistent odors were sulfide (H2S) and other sulfer containing compounds (the typical rotten egg smell) .   The chemistry of these compounds in wastewater indicates that the reduction of odors may be achieved by:

A.  Maintaining a dissolved oxygen  greater than 1.0 mg/L

B.  Maintaining a pH near neutral

C.  Some dissolved metals may help bind the sulfer (e.g. iron), iron is common in the groundwater wells in this region. 

Without adding a water treatment system (due to cost), these chemistry solutions may be difficult to implement. 

We did recommend adding aerators to all sink spigots; a signifincant portion of the water use was through spigots that did not have aerators.  This would help improve the oxygen content in the wastewater. 

We also recommended using baking soda on a daily basis to clean up counter tops and sinks.  This would help create a more neutral pH.

Finally, we also suggested using a charcoal filter on the roof vent or a solar powered vent with charcoal filter combination, which the Owner seemed to think was a workable option.  We have not recommended these previously, but the Owner was most enthusiatic about this technology.   We have not heard back from this Owner.  

We would like to get some feedback about the odor control recommendations we suggested.  We would also like to hear about cases where someone has been able to successfully mitigate strong & persistent odor.  What worked and what was the theory behind the approach?

Posted By SA.Worx at 8:00 PM Labels: Septic Odors Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Monday, May 4, 2015

Septic Tanks: 1 compartment vs 2

Is a two compartment tank better than a one compartment tank?

It is common belief that a two compartment septic tank provides better capture of solids and fats, oils and grease.  This belief is not consistent with settling theory.   This discussion focuses on settling soilds.  A discussion of removing fats, oils, and grease by flotation would be similar.

Settling Theory (condensed version)

The various particles in wastewater settle at different rates.  Typically, larger particles settle faster than smaller particles. The objective of settling devices is to capture as many of the particles as practicable.  Obviously, the faster settling particles are more likely to reach the floor of the tank and be removed from the flow.  Settling theory attempts to evaluate settling effectiveness of various devices by defining a characteristc settling velocity based on tank geometry and design flow rate.

Surface Overflow Rate.  The parameter most often used to evaluate tank settling effectiveness is the "surface overflow rate."  The surface overflow rate is defined as the design flow (cubic feet per day) divided by the settling surface area (square feet).   The lower the surface overflow rate the more effective the device is at removing the slower settling particles.  Tank geometry is important.  A deep tank will not remove as many of the slow settling particles as a shallow tank of the same volume; i.e. the deeper tank requires a longer time for the particles to settle to the bottom.  This is consistent with the surface overflow rate concept.  The shallow tank will have a larger surface area than a deep tank of the same volume.  Consequently, for a given design flow the shallow tank will have a lower surface overflow rate and will be more effective at settling solids.  

Minimum liquid depth in septic tanks. Residential septic tanks are often designed with a minimum liquid depth of 4-ft or more.  This depth provides adequate storage volume for solids so that maintenance pumping is typically required every two to three years.  Tanks with shallower liquid depth may be more effective at settling solids, but require more frequent pumping.  Shallower tanks are sometimes used due to site constraints, such as shallow depth to bedrock. When shallower tanks are used homeowners should be advised of the requirement for more frequent pumping.

Size matters. Comparing a 1500 gallon 4-ft deep tank and a 1000-gallon 4-ft deep tank: the 1500-gallon tank will have a larger surface area than the 1000 gallon tank.  The 1500 gallon tank will have a lower surface overflow rate for a given design flow.  In this case, the surface overflow rate concept identifies the 1500 gallon tank as better at removing solids than the 1000 gallon tank; as expected.  

One compartment versus two compartments. In this example, a single compartment 1500-gallon tank is compared to a two compartment 1500-gallon tank.  Settling theory indicates that the tank with the largest surface area has a lower surface loading rate for a given flow and is more effective at settling solids.  The single compartment tank (1500-gallons) is more effective at removing solids than the first compartment (1000-gallons) of the two compartment tank.  The second compartment in the two compartment tank acts as a separate tank (500-gallons).  Consequently, the first compartment (1000-gallons) has a larger surface area and is more effective at settling solids than the second compartment.   If a particle didn't settle in the first compartment, it is not likely to settle in the second compartment.  The belief that two compartment tanks are more effective may be due to the tendency for the second compartment to look clean, consistent with settling theory and an ineffective second compartment.  

The main advantage of the two compartment system is that it has two outlet baffles, one in each compartment.  This redundancy provides more effective protection from catastrophic outlet baffle failure.  Outlet baffle failure results in a rapid release of fats, oil, and grease from the septic tank that can plug the drain field.

Posted By SA.Worx at 10:11 AM Labels: Septic tanks Add Comment closed Comments (0)
Saturday, May 2, 2015

Septic Odors

Septic Odors can be a very real nuisance and difficult to eliminate.  This forum is set up to allow homeowners to ask questions about their odor problems. We request Septic Professionals to discuss odor controls that have worked and those that have not.  We sometimes learn more from our failures.  

Posted By SA.Worx at 10:12 PM Labels: Septic Odors Add Comment closed Comments (1)