As we all know, the housing market in Boise, Idaho is the hottest we've ever seen it. Many families are searching for any house they can get in their price range, and although a home with a septic system may have been intimidating before, more and more people are willing to take on the challenge. Many people don' know too much about septic systems; today, we'd like to share three of the advantages of living in a home with a septic system.
1) Cost Effective
Even including fees associated with septic tank installation and maintenance, septic systems come out to be more cost-effective than being hooked up to municipal water. A properly maintained septic tank can last for up 25-50 years, so depending on how long you live in your home, you may not need to deal with the excavation and replacement of a septic tank. Additionally, homeowners with septic systems don't need to pay the property taxes and fees associated with municipal water, which means even more savings.
As mentioned above, a septic tank that's been properly maintained and repaired when necessary can last decades. Septic tanks should be pumped every 2-5 years for an average household, and the fact that you can empty and keep using the tank means you don't need to worry about frequently replacing parts. Septic systems can also be regularly inspected to keep things running smoothly; with just a few basic services, your septic tank could very well outlast the years you spend in the home.
Septic systems are designed to quickly and efficiently filter and return water back into the environment, allowing water you use to reenter the water cycle. Additionally, since having a septic system means you don't need to haul or pump water to a wastewater treatment plant, you are also saving energy and further making a difference in the environment. While ecological friendliness isn't the primary reason some homeowners opt for a septic system, it's a nice perk to be able to reduce your carbon footprint.
Many people are intimidated by the idea of living in a home with a septic system. At ASAP Septic, we're excited to share our years of expertise and help you navigate the ins and outs of being a homeowner with a septic tank. Give us a call at (208) 991-7184 for our services in Boise, Meridian, and surrounding arease!
ASAP Septic is an industry leader here in Boise, Idaho. We take our job very seriously and make it a top priority to provide high-quality service so we can keep your septic system running smoothly. Today, we'll be sharing the basics behind how a septic system works.
The General Idea
Most people know the basic idea behind septic systems: a home or business with a septic system isn't hooked up to municipal water, which means that wastewater from sinks, showers, dishwashers, washing machines, and toilets isn't carried away to a wastewater treatment plant. Instead, the wastewater is flushed into a septic tank, where waste is stored.
This is all accurate, but there's a little more to the story. First, let's talk about the difference pieces and parts of a septic system.
Although not all septic systems are the same, here are some basic parts that most septic systems will have:
- Inlet: the main drain line that wastewater from the house passes through to reach the tank
- Inspection ports, or caps: openings at the top of the tank that allow access for septic tank pumping or inspections
- Outlet: a pipe that allows water to leave the tank to the distribution box
- Distribution box: the starting point of the leach field. The outlet feeds into it, and the number of pipes branch off of it.
- Leach field: also called the drain field. A network of perforated pipes that allows water to drain back into the soil
Using your garbage disposal for the wrong things may be damaging to your septic tank! Putting spoiled or moldy food down your garbage disposal may seem like quick and easy way to get of rid of old leftovers, but doing so excessively may disrupt the microbial ecosystem that's so crucial to the proper function of your septic tank. By avoiding the most damaging categories of food items, you can preserve and elongate the life of your septic system. These categories include:
Hard, Woody Food Items
This category includes items like:
- Peanuts, walnuts, and other hard seeds and nuts
- Peach or plum pits
- Popsicle or corndog sticks and other food skewers
Sticky or Sludgy Substances
Sticky and sludgy substances like coffee grounds, grease, oil, fat, and some syrups can coat the walls of the pipework to your septic system and trap other small particles. This can build up over time and completely clog your pipes, causing sinks and toilets to backup and overflow. These items, too, should be throw away instead of being put down the drain.
Foods that Become Hard and Brittle When Dry
The most common foods in this category include pasta and rice, but many other cooked grains are the same way. These items--similar to the hard and woody food items above--often cannot be broken down by the garbage disposal and end up blocking pipes and causing more headache than they are worth. They are also less likely to be broken down by the bacteria in your septic tank, which can also adversely affect the septic system.
Foods that Don't Compose Well
This group includes egg shells and potato peels; these foods take longer than average for bacteria to break down, and putting these down the garbage disposal will lead to them taking longer than other substances in to break down in your septic tank, which, again, can disrupt the microbial ecosystem. Avoid these problems (and many others!) by placing the majority of your leftovers and food waste in the garbage rather than down the garbage disposal.
You can extend the life of your septic system by avoiding putting these items in your garbage disposal. With conscientious care, your septic system can last up to 50 years with regular pumping and maintenance. By keeping these four categories in mind, you can save yourself the added hassle of a damaged septic system.
Given the housing market lately, you may unexpectedly find yourself with a home that has a septic system. As a new homeowner, if a septic system isn't something you've ever considered, caring for and maintaining it may feel overwhelming; however, practically speaking, living with a septic system is not too different from being connected to the city sewage system. Here are some basic things to know as you learn to manage your septic system:
How Does a Septic System Work?
A septic system is basically a giant tank that collects wastewater from your home. Some waste--called scum--floats to the top of the wastewater, and some waste--called sludge--settles to the bottom. The water in between these two layers passes through a grease trap designed to catch debris and is then allowed to seep back into the ground, which allows you to go 2-5 years before having to get your tank pumped. The area in your yard where this water seeps back in is called the leach field. The naturally occurring ecosystems of bacteria and other microbes in the wastes that's left in the tank serve to break down larger waste components, which maximizes the use of your tank.
No Grease Down Drains
Grease often sticks to and coats different components like the pipes leading to the septic system, and can quickly gunk up the grease trap. Additionally cooled grease often hardens into thick, sticky deposits, which can then stick to other debris and quickly occlude your pipes and grease trap. Grease should never be poured down the drain--even for residents on city sewage systems--but is an especially big no-no when it comes to septic systems.
Use Liquid or Gel Detergents
Similarly, powdered laundry detergents can leave tiny solid particles in your drain water. While these small particles may not seem like a big deal, a couple loads of laundry a week can quickly add up. As these particles get caught in the grease trap or other parts of your septic system, they can cause blocked pipes or slow the flow of draining water. An easy solution is to commit to using liquid or gel detergents only.
Space Out High Water Load Tasks
One simple but effective way to keep your septic system healthy and functioning well is to space out your high water load tasks. Rather than running multiple loads of laundry, the dishwasher, and giving the kids baths on the same day, try spacing things out. One system that works for many people is to run one load or laundry per day, or to alternate laundry and kids' bath days. Because the septic system allows excess water to seep back in to the ground, overutilizing water on a given day may lead to too much water runoff. This can overwhelm your leach field and cause a part of your yard to become wet or soggy, which is unpleasant at best.
Only Flush Toilet Paper
Paper towels, Clorox wipes, "flushable" wipes and feminine hygiene products--these are things people sometimes flush down the toilet. While it's good practice to avoid flushing these things regardless of whether you are on city water or a septic system, flushing anything but toilet paper can cause catastrophic downstream effects on a septic system. Toilet paper is designed to disintegrate in water; none of these other products are. These things can clog your pipes and cover your grease trap and can quickly lead to needing costly repairs or even replacement. It's a lot less of a headache to simply avoid flushing anything but toilet paper.
Owning a septic tank can be a little intimidating at first, but it doesn't need to be! We hope these tips and tricks can help ease your mind and help you have a stress-free experience with your new septic tank. Feel free to contact our team of experts with any questions, concerns, or for our services in the Boise, Idaho area.
Over two decades ago, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released guidelines for the disposal of medications; before that, flushing unused medications down the toilet was common practice. These practices put harmful chemicals into the environment and, as an unexpected outcome, encouraged the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is an increasingly prevalent problem in healthcare today.
Our bodies don't use up every last bit of medication we take; just like the food we eat, a portion of it is excreted through waste. Recent estimates indicate that up to 10% of medicines are eliminated from the body in this way, and that can impact your septic system.
Medication and the Septic System
Your septic system houses wastewater, food scraps, debris from showers, and human waste. If you or a member of your household is medicated, a tiny portion of that medication will end up in your septic tank. While it doesn't seem like a lot, this small bit of medicine can greatly impact your septic system.
Part of the reason that septic systems work so well is because of the microscopic ecosystem that builds up. Bacteria and other microbes consume fragments of solid waste, breaking it down to create space for more waste as you go about your life. Medicines that treat or prevent infections are designed to kill or inhibit microbes, which can disrupt the delate balance of the microbial ecosystem in your septic tank. Similarly, other medicines--like chemotherapy drugs--target and kill rapidly dividing cells, including tumor cells and bacteria. In short, long-term use of medication can completely change the biome in your septic tank.
If you have been prescribed a medication by a licensed doctor, it's important for your health to follow your prescribed treatment. This is extremely important. If your treatment lasts less than three months, the microbes in your septic system should be able to restore balance, and you don't have to do anything at all, although you may consider septic tank pumping to help the process along. For longer treatments, here's what you can do:
- Reduce usage of other anti-bacterial products. This includes cleaning supplies that contain bleach or are labeled as anti-bacterial, as well as antibacterial hand soaps. Opt for more natural cleaning products and soaps, as this will give the biome in your septic tank a better chance of doing its job.
- Have your septic system inspected regularly. While you're taking care of your health, let us take care of the health of your septic system! Our services in the Boise and Meridian, Idaho areas can help ensure that your septic system is functioning well and that you will not have the added stress of a septic emergency.