The easiest way to determine the condition of your septic tank is to hire a professional experienced with septic systems. However, should you decide to inspect it yourself, follow these steps:
If your leach field has inspection pipes at the end of each leach line, they can be visually inspected for pooling liquid. Accumulation of water in the leach lines is an early indication of problems. Sewage contains disease causing microorganisms! It is important to always exercise caution and good personal hygiene after any contact.
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Four common types of additives commonly asked about are:
There is no significant evidence of the effectiveness of these additives. Use of items 3 and 4 may actually damage your system (changing the pH and killing microorganisms, or clogging downstream pipes). The introduction of any additive to the septic tank is discouraged.
Ordinary household chemicals should not harm the biological balance of the system when used in moderation, though excessive amounts can be harmful. The disposal of paper products in the system should be limited to those that are absolutely necessary and which fall apart easily when wet (e.g toilet paper).
Any type of poisonous substance such as:
Also refrain from adding cigarette butts, and paper products that do not readily degrade such as disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, facial tissues, or paper towels.
Always attempt to minimize the amount of solids introduced into the septic tank. Use your garbage disposal as little as possible.
Lush vegetative growth over the leach field may indicate imminent failure. Damaged leach line pipes or decreased soil porosity can cause effluent to surface. Visual inspection of the area may reveal an accumulation of sewage.
Dye testing of the system can be helpful in determining if any liquid observed originated from the septic tank. Contact a service provider if you're concerned about the health of your septic system.
Placer County requires that all wastewater must be discharged into an approved sewage disposal system. Even grey water contains high numbers of bacteria, some of which may cause disease.
Hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor) is normal by-product of the sewage digestion process which occurs in the septic tank. Noxious odors from the septic tank my become obvious through roof vents on the house, depending on the house location and prevailing wind currents. To help alleviate the nuisance, extend the height of the roof vents.
Every 3 to 5 years, depending on how many people live in the house. Septic pumpers may be found in the Yellow Pages.
Every 6 to 12 months. This gives the unused leach lines time to "rest," thereby increasing the life of the system. Be sure to rotate the valve back again after the 6 to 12 month resting period.
Both wet weather and increased water usage can increase the amount of water introduced into the leach field soil and cause your septic system to become overloaded. System failure may become evident during periods of over saturation. Clogged or slow moving plumbing is frequently the result of a failing system. Blockages in the distribution system may be removable, but if the failure is due to clogged soil that will no longer accept effluent, then a new leach field is necessary.
Regular cleaning of the tank is part of a complete preventative maintenance program necessary to the life of the system. Solids must be removed from the tank before they become deposited in and clog the leach lines. After the leach lines become clogged, cleaning the tank is of little benefit.
A simple method is to probe in the soil with a metal rod. Or you can follow the pipelines leading from the house. Once found, dig to uncover the manholes on the top of the tank.