Why Elbot Into Septic Tank? (Correct answer)

How does a septic tank work?

  • The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (e.g., oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater.

Should I put enzymes in my septic tank?

Your septic system is unique in the way it processes your waste. If this information is not enough to convince you that enzymes and additives are bad for your septic tank, they can also cause complete septic system failure by allowing sludge and grease to pass to the soil treatment area, also known as the leach field.

Should I put chemicals in my septic tank?

Your septic system contains a collection of living organisms that digest and treat household waste. Pouring toxins down your drain can kill these organisms and harm your septic system. Whether you are at the kitchen sink, bathtub, or utility sink: Avoid chemical drain openers for a clogged drain.

Why does a septic tank need an aerator?

An aerator, or air pump, pushes air and oxygen into your septic system. The additional oxygen increases natural bacterial activity within the system, that then provides additional treatment for nutrients in the effluent.

How often should you add bacteria to septic tank?

When solids enter the tank, they settle to the bottom and collect there. Over time, those solids will start to build up. This is why the tank needs pumping every three to five years — because the solids in the tank always rise to the top.

How do I keep my septic system healthy?

Do’s and Don’ts when maintaining your septic system

  1. Regularly inspect and maintain your septic system.
  2. Pump your septic tank as needed.
  3. Keep your septic tank lids closed and secured.
  4. Be water-wise.
  5. Direct water from land and roof drains away from the drainfield.
  6. Landscape with love.
  7. Keep septic tank lids easily accessible.

How can I make my septic tank work better?

How to Keep Your Septic System Healthy

  1. How the Septic System Works.
  2. Don’t Overload the Septic Tank and Drain field.
  3. Use an Efficient Toilet.
  4. Don’t Treat the Toilet as a Garbage Disposal.
  5. Don’t Pour Grease Down the Drain.
  6. Divert Rain Water From the Septic Drain Field.
  7. Keep Trees Away from the Septic System.

What are the signs that your septic tank is full?

Here are some of the most common warning signs that you have a full septic tank:

  • Your Drains Are Taking Forever.
  • Standing Water Over Your Septic Tank.
  • Bad Smells Coming From Your Yard.
  • You Hear Gurgling Water.
  • You Have A Sewage Backup.
  • How often should you empty your septic tank?

How do you tell if your septic tank is full?

How to tell your septic tank is full and needs emptying

  1. Pooling water.
  2. Slow drains.
  3. Odours.
  4. An overly healthy lawn.
  5. Sewer backup.
  6. Gurgling Pipes.
  7. Trouble Flushing.

What can break down poop in septic tank?

Yeast helps actively breaks down waste solids when added to your septic system. Flush ½ cup of dry baking yeast down the toilet, the first time. Add ¼ cup of instant yeast every 4 months, after the initial addition.

How long do septic aerators last?

The lifespan of your aerator will vary based on the size of the aerator, the frequency with which it is used, the size of your tank and what elements the aerator is exposed to. Most pumps last anywhere from two to five years before they need to be replaced.

Should a septic tank aerator run all the time?

The aerator should run 24/7. It should continuously provide much-needed oxygen inside the septic tank of an aerobic system. The aerobic bacteria need air to survive.

How do I know if my septic aerator is working?

The surest sign your aerator has failed is an overwhelming unpleasant odor coming from where your system discharges, whether into a secondary treatment system or directly into the environment.

How do I reactivate the bacteria in my septic tank?

Flush a packet of brewer’s dry yeast down one toilet on the bottom floor of your house once a month. The yeast will help add “good” bacteria to your septic tank and break down waste.

Can you put too much bacteria in your septic tank?

Too much of a good thing can cause problems. A septic system relies on the correct balance of bacteria to do its job. An overpopulation of bacteria can deplete the oxygen in the septic tank and turn the environment septic. A septic, septic system is one in which the ecosystem within the tank is out of balance.

How do I clean my septic tank naturally?

You can mix about a 1/4 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons lemon to make your own natural cleaning agent. The baking soda will fizz up to help get the dirt and grime in your tub and drains. It’s a great cleaner and your septic system will thank you!

Septic System Information

Sewage Haulers are those who transport sewage. Septic Tanks are a type of septic tank that is used to dispose of waste. Leach FieldMoundDripAerators are a kind of drip aerator. Replacement of a Septic System Before beginning to examine your own sewage treatment system (STS) in 2020, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about how your STS should be operating properly. IN THE NEAR FUTURE, we will have information on each of the sewage treatment systems listed below, as well as some frequent concerns that users of each of these systems encounter.

Treatment and Pretreatment Types

Sewage treatment systems (Septic tanks) assist to prevent solid waste from obstructing the remainder of the system. When the tank is properly maintained, solid waste will fall to the bottom of the tank, allowing the sewage effluent to go to the next stage of treatment without being contaminated. Over time, septic tanks have evolved to include more features that prevent sediments from causing harm to the secondary treatment component of the system, which is important. A cross section of a septic tank is seen in the images provided below.

It is critical to pump out your septic tank on a regular basis in order to prevent sludge and scum layers from accumulating and causing permanent harm to the system.

It is determined by the number of people that reside in your house as well as the size of your septic tank.

Table 1. Estimated septic tank pumping frequency (in years) for different size tanks for 1 to 9 people in a household of year-round residence. Note: If a garbage disposal is used, more frequent pumping is required.
Tank Size (in gallons) Number of People
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
500 5.8 2.6 1.5 1 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1
750 9.1 4.2 2.6 1.8 1.3 1 0.7 0.6 0.4
1,000 12.4 5.9 3.7 2.6 2.0 1.5 1.2 1 0.8
1,500 18.9 9.1 5.9 4.2 3.3 2.6 2.1 1.8 1.5
2,000 25.4 12.4 8 5.9 4.5 3.7 3.1 2.6 2.2
2,500 31.9 15.6 10.2 7.5 5.9 4.8 4.4 4 3.0

For a list of sewage haulers who can pump out your septic tank for you, please visit this page. Registered-Sewage-Haulers A leach field is one of the most often used methods of treatment. Typically, leach fields begin with a diversion box, which diverts sewage into a series of lengthy leach lines, which enable sewage to flow through the ground water without discharging into the surface water below. It is dependent on the bacteria that are naturally present in the soil to clean the sewage before it is recycled.

  1. Because of the higher altitudes, it is sometimes necessary to use an electrical pump to transport sewage to the leach field.
  2. Consequently, the sediments block the pipes and prevent sewage from being leached out and cleansed naturally.
  3. In order to prevent obstructions in your leach field, you should pump out your septic tank on a regular basis according to the table above and switch the elbow in the diversion box at least once every six months.
  4. Although subsurface sandfilters are no longer an option for new installations, Union County still has a large number of them in operation.
  5. One line will be joined to another via a pvc pipe in the shape of a Lor elbow.
  6. It is advised that you swap which pipe this elbow is linked to every 6 to 12 months in order to allow the sand filter to rest on alternate sides every 6 to 12 months.
  7. The wastewater is caught by a single pipe at the bottom of the sand filter and then discharged to a tile or other waterway after passing through the filter.

The inspection port of certain systems will be equipped with a chlorinator, which will allow partially treated effluent to be disinfected further before it is released back into the surface water system.

(It is never recommended to use pool cholorine pills.) Please read our page on Aerator Systems for further information.

1) Get a soil study done before you start.

2) Hire a professional designer to develop a system for you.

3) Submit an application for an installation permission.

A sewage system installation permit may be acquired when your application has been granted, and the process of installing your new system can begin immediately after.

If you are aware of a problem with your system but do not have the financial resources to repair it, email Allison Zandarski for information on how to apply! Allison Zandarski may be reached at (937) 645-2028 or at [email protected].

max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank

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max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:mongo (OH)I am building a new house and the guy that put in the septic system has messed up the angle from the tank to the house and it is coming in to the house at about a 11* angle. The tank is at an angle to the house and they came straight out about 16″ and then used a 45*. They then went 10′, put on a 22.5* to bring it back towards the house and ran the remaing 35′,arriving at the house at about a 11* angle. I think the best solution would be to cut before the 45* at the tank and use a 60*, which is within 3* of what it would take(56.5). The other option would be to cut the line just passed the 45* and install a 11.25* whick would give me the 56.50* that I need. Problem is, I am not sure if either of those options meets code.Any help is appreciated.Tks JohnPics -Edited 1 times.
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:jjbex (IL)Does it have to be perfect coming in the house? If the main is higher, a 90 can drop into a wye and 45.-“You can’t get there from here”Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:oncalla couple of questions.was there a reason they set the tank angled?.like rock?.or to get a straight shot to the D-box/drain field?.or maybe a LARGE tree close by they didn’t want to damage?I’d call the inspector and ask a few questions if your installer can’t come up with a good reason. Hopefully you have a good relationship with the installer, because it’s best to go to them before the inspector for the benefit of the doubt.and not to be a tattle tale!.j/kgood luck, Gerry
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:hj (AZ)11 1/4 degrees is a 1/32 bend, and I have never seen a PVC or ABS one. They are rare enough in cast iron, that few supply house personnel have ever seen one. But if everything is “square” with your fittings, I do not see any problem with the installation.
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:mongo (OH)The elevation is not a problem as I have a grinder in the basement and the 1st floor above is gravity drain to the septic system. 9ft of basement wall to play with. The problem is that the main line to the house sort of snakes it’s way to the house wall. 45*, 22.5* and the it hits the basement concrete wall at a 10-13* angle, which I assume will need to be straightened before going through the wall. I would guess that the plumber will do something to get it straight through the wall but my desire is to have it go in aas straight a line as possible from the tank to the house. Not criscrossing along the way.tksJohn
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:mongo (OH)The tank was angled to get a better approach to the drain field. Unfortunately, no consideration was given as to what angle the tank should be set. These guys said they have trouble with their 45’s. Boy, was that an understatement. Anyway, the inspector has signed off on the drain field and tank part but is withholding final until the line is hooked-up to the house. I don’t believe there would be any problem with approval, I just don’t like the way the main line zig-zags to the house. It starts out 7′-6″ away from the house and in 30+ feet it goes to 3′-6″ away. My question is ” can I use a 60* elbow on the main line?” I was told that you can’t use more than a 45* on sewer lines by the code.TksJohn
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:hj (AZ)22 1/2, 45, 60, 72, (if you could find one), long sweep 90, all are approved.
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:mongo (OH)After calling several supply houses, I found one who will order it for me.(11.25*) I am somewhat supprised that there are not many places that even have access to such an angle. I realize that if the job is thought out in advance, one does not have a need for such an angle as 11.25*. but surely there must be a need in renovations and restorations for such diverse angles.TksJohnEdited 1 times.
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:hj (AZ)We so it by rolling a combination of fittings. If we needed one, there is no way we could afford to wait while it was special ordered, and no supply house that I know of has ever stocked them.
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:mongo (OH)Thanks hj for the list. I would assume that it would include the 11.25* also and that any combination of those angles is good, too. Does the 60* have to be a long sweep? Is a 45* followed by 5″ of straight pipe with a 11.25* then attached and run to the house OK? Will that 45*- 11.25 combination be adequate for clen-out?tksJohn
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:dlh (TX)with pvc you will need a 3-4′ straight run to install the 2 way cleanout. you can put the 11.25 or what ever in anywhere as long as you dont exceed 135*. anything other than a 22.5, 45, 60 and 90 will take to long to get and cost as much if not more than any 2 of those mentioned-PLUMBERS “Protecting The Health Of The Nation”
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Re: max elbow allowed by code on a 4″ sewer line going from house to septic tank
Author:hj (AZ)The only long radius fittings are 90’s. Everything else is a single pattern, in fact if you look at a 60 and compare it to a 45, you will see that it has an even “tighter” turn than the 45.
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Inspecting Your Septic Tank

Firstuncover and remove the first manhole cover. Some systems have”risers”that make this job easier by bringing the tank lids up to the ground surface. (We encourage you to have risersinstalled so you won’t need to dig down each time you inspect.)The diagram at left shows the top of the two most common septic tank configurations. The upper figure is found onnewer tanks and the bottom one is usually found on older septic tanks. In most cases, the hole to the left is thefirst compartment, the hole to the right is the second compartment, and the rectangular cover is to the crossoverbaffle. (Some tanks, 25 years or older, may have only one compartment that is round, oval, or square.)This procedure determines the thickness of the scum level(SC).
  1. In order to make the scum stick, One of the PVC pipes was cut down to 6 feet from its original length of 10 feet. Glue a 90-degree elbow on one of the ends. Create an elbow out of a 6-inch piece of PVC tubing and glue it in place. End caps should be placed on the open ends. Place a board or a stick over the top of the hole, manhole, or riser to prevent water from leaking in. As shown in Figure 1, lower the scum stick down the manhole of the first compartment of the tank until it rests on the top of the scum layer (see Figure 1below), and mark the scum stick where it passes the reference point (A). Work the stick through the scum layer, starting at the elbow end and working your way down. Continue pushing straight through the scum layer, turning the stick 90 degrees, and pulling up on the stick until you feel the bottom of the scum layer. Note where the scum stick crosses the reference point (B) with a marker. Removing the scum stick and measuring the distance between the two markings will get the following results. This is the measurement of the thickness of the scum layer (SC).

Figure 1: To expand the diagram, click on it. This process determines the thickness of the sludge layer on the bottom of the pond (SL).

  1. To create the sludge stick, cut the remaining 10-foot PVC pipe into two parts of 5-foot length. Each stick should have an adaptor attached to it. Insert the coupler into one of the adapters by screwing it in. To build a 10-foot stick, connect the two parts together. Wrap a white cloth or an old towel around the bottom of the stick so that it is tightly wrapped. It should be secured with tape or string. Create a hole in the scum It is not acceptable to smear the sludge stick with scum. Stick carefully through hole in scum layer in first compartment until it rests on top of the liquid layer, then remove stick from compartment. Figure 1 shows how to mark the location of the stick when it passes the aperture of the manhole or riser. Reduce the length of the stick until it reaches the bottom of the tank. Keep the stick in the tank for at least five minutes to allow sludge particles to attach to the towel
  2. Otherwise, remove it. The sludge stick should be marked where it crosses the board (Din Figure 1). Work your way carefully away from the stick until you reach the distance between the two markers (CandD). This distance represents the working depth of the tank (WD). On the rag, there should be a visible black stain left by the liquid. Take a measurement of the stain’s height. Sludge layer (SL) depth is measured in millimeters.

Remove the covers from the inlet, outlet, and crossoverbaffles on the ducting system. Examine the baffles to confirm that they are still present and that they are not significantly rusted. Venting holes should be present and unobstructed if the baffles are made of concrete and are molded into the rest of the tank’s structure.

  • Ensure that the intake baffle is unobstructed and that the pipe is properly sealed to the tank
  • Ensure that the exit baffle is unobstructed and that the liquid level is at the bottom of the pipe, rather than below or above the bottom of the pipe. The line connecting it to the tank must be completely sealed. PLEASE NOTE: In the following photo, looking down an output baffle, the effluent is below the pipe, suggesting a faulty seal. Additionally, the crossover baffle should be clear of blockage.
  • Rubber gloves should be used
  • Dirty gloves and sludge toweling should be disposed of in a plastic bag. Sticks should be soaked in bleach water to sterilize them before keeping them.

Preparing Your Septic System for Fall – Miller Septic

Make sure to remember to clear out your septic system while you’re out completing your Fall cleaning tasks. Here are some ideas for keeping your septic tank in good operating order during the fall season.

Insulate Your Septic System

During the colder months, your septic system will require more insulation. To give that extra layer of protection, let the grass surrounding your septic tank to grow out a bit more than normal throughout the Fall months. Mulch may also be spread over the area surrounding your septic system to give additional insulation during the colder months.

Pump Your Septic Tank

Pump your tank before the onset of winter, which will bring snow and subzero temperatures. When it snows or the earth freezes, it becomes difficult to identify your tank and much more difficult to dig into the ground. Make a call to us if you’re ready to have your tank drained and cleaned.

Check for Leaks

Examine the pipes inside and outside of your home, as well as the lid of your septic tank, and repair any leaks immediately to avoid having frozen pipes throughout the winter. Are you concerned about the health of your septic tank during the cold months? Check read our article on Common Septic Tank Issues During the Winter.

Change the Leach Lines

Do you have a box for distributing materials? It is a fantastic time to change the elbow on your leach lines in the fall to give that area of the leach field a rest. If this is the case, You may return to it in the Spring once it has had a chance to recuperate from the winter.

Day-to-Day Septic Tank Maintenance

Never forget to properly maintain your septic system by employing common sense measures to preserve it in good working order, such as delaying appliance usage and being mindful about what goes down your drain. You can find out more about septic tank preventative maintenance by visiting this website.

About Miller Septic

Miller Septic is a locally owned firm that provides septic cleaning services for both residential and commercial properties. We have more than 30 years of expertise in serving the requirements of residents and companies in Northeast Ohio and surrounding areas. Pumping septic tanks, identifying septic tanks, offering point of sale inspections, cleaning grease traps and catch basins, transporting municipal sludge, providing leach line rejuvenation, hydro excavation, and many more services are available.

For more information on our hydro excavation services, please contact us immediately. Regular updates may be found on the Uson Facebook page.


By Admin on November 12, 2020 Your efforts to live as environmentally conscious as possible, as a responsible homeowner, are likely already underway, with practices such as recycling, composting, and purchasing energy-efficient equipment among your list of accomplishments. As a septic tank owner, you want to be sure that anything you put into your tank and septic field is causing the least amount of ground contamination as is reasonably practicable. Fortunately, there are a number of modest improvements you can do immediately to make your septic system even more ecologically friendly than it already is.

  1. Have your septic tank inspected and pumped on a regular basis.
  2. A bigger septic tank with only a couple of people living in your house, for example, will not require pumping as frequently as a smaller septic tank or as a septic tank that must manage the waste products of multiple family members will require.
  3. When in doubt about how often to pump your septic tank, consult with a professional for advice.
  4. In addition to locating and repairing any damage, a professional can ensure that the septic field is in good working order and that your septic tank is functional, large enough to handle your family’s waste, and not causing any unwanted pollution in nearby ground water.
  5. Avoid flushing non-biodegradable items down the toilet or down the toilet.
  6. Items that are not biodegradable are unable to properly decompose in the septic tank and might cause the system to get clogged.
  7. In addition to causing issues in your house, septic system backups can damage ground water in the area surrounding your septic field.

Towels made of paper Products for feminine hygiene Grease or fats are used in cooking.

grinds from a cup of coffee Even if you have a trash disposal, the food scraps that you flush down the drain and bring into your septic system may cause unanticipated harm to your plumbing system.

Food scraps can enhance the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the wastewater, which can disturb the natural bacterial balance of the septic tank, among other things.

Water conservation should be practiced.

Exceedingly large amounts of water use will interfere with the normal flow of wastewater from your home into your septic tank.

Limiting the amount of time you spend in the shower and turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, as well as purchasing a smaller dishwasher and washing machine that use less water, are all simple strategies to reduce water use in your home.

The following are some basic steps you can take to make your septic system more ecologically friendly: save water, maintain your septic system and tank, and recycle wastewater. To get answers to any of your septic tank-related issues, get in touch with the experts at Upstate Septic Tank, LLC.

Septic Pumping Elbow, SK

Is your septic system experiencing backup? Alternatively, are you simply due for a routine tank pumping? Pumping septic tanks and providing other related services are among the specialties of Rooter-Man of Elbow, Saskatchewan. Septic tanks are built in houses and businesses that are not connected to the main sewage lines provided by the local towns and cities, which are known as septic tanks. It is estimated that 25 percent of North America is reliant on septic systems; that is a significant number of people who are still reliant on an ancient technology.

Every two to three years, it is suggested that you have your Elbow, SK septic tank drained by a professional.

Septic systems are pumped, cleaned, and installed by Rooter-Man, who has the necessary skills.

For Septic Pumping in Elbow, SK Call(306) 651-2564

Septic pumping is the process of pumping out the water and human waste from a septic tank in order to guarantee that the house or company septic system is operating properly. Waste removal should be left to the pros, and Rooter-Man can take care of it for you.

  • Full Septic Tank Warning Indicators-There are various warning signs to check for, including soft soil surrounding the septic tank location, toilets or drains backing up, and unpleasant aromas emanating from the tank. According to industry standards, the scum that builds up in the tank should not extend more than 6 inches from the exit trough
  • Otherwise, septic pumping may be required. Septic pumping should only be required every 2-5 years if your system is in good condition. Provided you follow a normal septic pumping plan, your leech field can endure between 20 and 50 years if it is properly maintained and cleaned. Septic pumping is responsible for preventing contamination, groundwater pollution, and residential waste from entering the environment. Because of the demands of everyday living, this sort of cleaning is often disregarded and underappreciated by homes and business owners. As a result, Rooter- Man is capable of doing this crucial work before it becomes too expensive or harmful.
  • Every time, the service is prompt, pleasant, and excellent. My usual practice is to refrain from writing reviews, but this firm is deserving of one! Tee-Jay C
  • Rooter-man is the first person I refer to a friend when they need help. Mike exemplifies professionalism and expertise, while also being approachable and entertaining. We will continue to work with them since they are a terrific business with great personnel. Jessica D., a.k.a.

Septic systems in Elbow, Saskatchewan have been installed and maintained by Rooter-Man for more than 50 years. We aim to meet the demands of all of our clients and are willing to go above and beyond in order to offer you with outstanding service. Rooter-Man can handle any task, no matter how big or little it is. Some services are only available at participating sites; others are available nationwide.

Septic Repair & Installation Elbow, SK

Do you require septic installation services in Elbow, Saskatchewan? or septic tank maintenance and repair? An efficient waste disposal system must be carefully maintained! Septic tanks and drain fields are cleaned, repaired, and installed on a regular basis by our professionals. With over 50 years of expertise in the septic sector in Elbow, SK, we’ve seen it all, so you can be confident that Rooter-Man will do the work efficiently and affordably. The way your septic system works is as follows: A septic tank is a tank that retains solid waste until it is liquefied or pumped out of the building.

The drain field is connected to the septic tank, and its purpose is to remove contaminants and toxins from the liquid that drains from the septic tank into the drain field.

These tanks have a lifespan of up to 50 years.

For Septic Services in Elbow, SK Call(306) 651-2564

  • This is a fantastic company! They are really responsive, and their work is excellent. Thank you very much for your assistance! Andy D., a.k.a. Andy D. Today, I phoned because there was a sewer backup. Despite the fact that it was Saturday, Mike and his coworker were on the scene swiftly and effectively to resolve the situation quickly and efficiently. This firm comes highly recommended, and I intend to use them in the future. Colleen M.
  • Colleen M.

The following are some of the most common issues with septic systems: It is possible that some materials that are flushed down the toilet will cause complications in your sewer system. Septic tanks are designed to hold objects like plastics and cigarette butts, which will remain there until they are drained out. Because plastic does not dissolve in water, it may clog pipes and cause septic tanks to overflow into your Elbow, SK yard or even worse, into your home itself! Septic system problems are frequently caused by the usage of soap, detergent, and other home cleansers, among other things.

Grease put into the septic system might have the same impact as excessive amounts of grease in the system.

How to maintain the proper operation of a septic tank and drain field Make sure to get your septic tank pumped out every 2-5 years, depending on the size of the tank and the number of people that live in the house.

Your modern-day plumbing, septic, and drain hero has the ability to eliminate the terrible difficulties that arise in your house or place of business, and to do it quickly and efficiently.

Whether it’s septic pipes, septic tanks, or drain fields that need to be repaired, Rooter-Man has the experience and knowledge to get the job done right. Some services are only available at participating locations, while others are available anywhere.

Don’t (Always) Blame the Installer

The test equipment consisted of a portable leaf blower attached to the input pipe of the septic tank, a rock to deflect the wind in order to allow the smoke to enter the blower, and a 30-second smoke bomb that was detonated by the blower. (Images courtesy of Russ Lanoie)

Interested in Alarms/Controls?

Receive articles, news, and videos about Alarms/Controls sent directly to your email! Now is the time to sign up. Alarms/Controls+ Receive Notifications It’s common for people to point the finger at the onsite installer when there’s a sewage stench in a house or other facility that has an installed septic system. However, scents might have a variety of origins that are outside the control of the installation. So, if an odor problem emerges and you are called to investigate, be prepared to conduct a little detective work to solve the mystery.

Persistent smell

Just a few years ago, our town of Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire, constructed a gorgeous new nature learning center – a facility that generates its own electricity, heats itself mostly with solar energy, and is equipped with a self-contained septic system. During my time as a frequent volunteer at the center, I overheard the staff lamenting the presence of a chronic unpleasant stench in the facility, which they believed was from from the septic system. Unfortunatley, the plumbing backed up inside the building on a day when I happened to be at the center.

I identified and unveiled the septic tank, where I discovered a 90-degree elbow built at the entrance pipe, which was causing septage to flow below the level of the water in the tank.

After learning about the odor problem, I was informed that the original site contractor had placed this elbow in an attempt to prevent sewage gas from backing up into the building.

The elbow that we use as an input baffle to enable sewage gases to escape through the plumbing to the building’s “stink pipe” and out through the roof was something I had seen many 50- to 75-year-old systems designed with instead of the tee that we use.

Simple smoke test

I supplied a charcoal filter for the roof vent pipe, thinking that the source of the problem may be odor from the roof vent that was making its way back down and into the house through open windows. However, there was insufficient relief, so I recommended that a plumber inspect all of the toilet seals to ensure that they were in good working order; a leaking toilet seal may easily allow bad smells to enter a building without losing any water. The facility hosted a well-attended activity that was accompanied by a flurry of restroom visits shortly after an expert plumber had adjusted each of the toilets.

It takes only a few pipe fittings, a leaf blower, and a smoke bomb from a plumbing supply store to complete this procedure.

Here, I joined a 90-degree elbow to the input pipe, pointed up and out of the tank, linked it to another 90-degree elbow and decreased the connection to the discharge of the leaf blower with a rubber connector.

I was able to pressurize the plumbing system with smoke by placing the smoke bomb adjacent to the air intake of the operating blower, which allowed me to see exactly where the stench was entering the building.

The real culprit

Our home vent was clear almost immediately since the charcoal filter blasted white smoke like we had just elected a new Pope, which gave us the clue that everything was in working order. A lot of smoke filled the men’s room, which was enough to set off the fire alarm system, which is directly connected to the local fire department, whose representatives arrived within minutes of the alarm being activated. When I showed the firemen the photograph of the smoke shooting out from behind the urinal, they were just as taken aback as we were by the sight.

It never let any water to escape, but the stink was unbearable for the personnel for four years until we were able to identify the source of the problem.

The entire exercise, apart from the expense of driving the fire engine to the facility, was only a few hundred dollars.

How you can do it

Here are a handful of things to keep in mind if you decide to do this type of smoke test to verify that a scent is not caused by your septic system. I used a 30-second smoke bomb, which can be purchased for around $6. Begin with at least a handful of them so that you may learn by doing and making mistakes. Because I already had a leaf blower, I was able to save money on the expense of a professional smoke test machine, which may cost upwards of $1,000. It’s likely that a shop vacuum discharge line would have served the same purpose.

However, be forewarned: Start the blower and allow it to warm up for a few minutes before connecting it to the sewage pipe connectors.

While it’s simple to refill the traps, it takes a bit more effort to wipe up the water that has collected on the floor and on the wall.

Russell Lanoie is a 40-year veteran septic system installer and former designer who specializes in identifying, diagnosing and repairing systems in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Former member of the Granite State Designers and Installers, he now manages a troubleshooting website at www.troubleshootingwebsite.com.

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