NJ’s past couple years of record-breaking wet weather has wreaked havoc on our septic systems. And with an upcoming spring thaw it will be certain to continue being problematic for our septic systems. Why? You ask…..
The reason being that septic system works by absorption & evaporation-when the ground is already saturated with moisture (snow melt and/or heavy rain) the effluent has nowhere to go. Typically, the groundwater table rises during rainy periods in the winter and/or spring. Saturated soil conditions influence wastewater flow and treatment. When you still continuously add to the water level by using showers, doing loads of laundry, flushing toilets along with a high-water level in the surrounding soil you start to have problems. Think of a sponge that is completely filled with water-if you need to use it again you need to wring out the sponge to continue. So how do we “wring” out our septic systems? Is it possible?
Yes and no!
Start with monitoring water usage-if a heavy rain or major temperature changes (causing surrounding snow to melt quickly) is expected then refrain from overburdening your septic system by controlling the amount of water washed or rinsed down the drains-especially doing loads of laundry back-to-back. Leave the laundry or 20-minute shower to a drier day.
Regular pump-outs are important to maintain the health bacteria in your septic tank. Plan ahead for preventative maintenance-Don’t wait for a major problem to occur. Healthy bacteria prefer warm weather. Emptying a septic tank in the winter months may not allow enough time for decomposition to begin before the winter’s coldest temperature sets in. Unless you’re having an emergency or need the septic tank to be pumped for a real estate transaction. It is best to wait for warmer weather. (Your septic contractor will thank you for not having to service the tank when it is 12 degrees out and surrounding soil is frozen)
Keep all water flow away from your septic system-This includes gutter drain run-off, sump pump discharge. Keep water softener discharge out of your septic system. If this is allowed to discharge into your septic system you just sent your septic system a death notice. Be prepared for early failure of your system. Plow snow away from your septic system components. Keep the area free & clean of any impervious items. (Such as patios or hardscaping) Only grass should be on top of your septic system components including the septic tank.
Power outages can occur during heavy rain/snow and ice storms preventing a septic effluent pump from working. If a power failure occurs, you have no way to remove the wastewater from your septic tank to your drain field if your pump doesn’t work. This can cause wastewater backups into your home resulting in water damage. Most insurance policies do not have a “water backup coverage” unless this option was chosen. Water backup coverage is an optional type of insurance that can be added to your existing policy. Talk to your insurance agent before it is too late. Water backing up into your home from the septic outlet line, overflow of toilets or showers can cause significant, costly damage not to mention a messy clean-up. Having water backup insurance included in your home policy will provide coverage for the structure of your home as well as any personal property damaged from this situation.
Broken or frozen pipework can also cause back-ups into your home or basement. Maintain all outlet lines if possible. Do not wait till an emergency occurs in the dead of winter.
Refrain from disposal of items that are not flushable or bio-degradable down your drains. This can result in pipe work damage (remember plumbing pipe work is only a few inches in diameter) or clogged lines. Only waste that exists your body (and 1 ply biodegradable toilet paper) should go into your toilet and only wash water should go down the drains.
Many people call a septic company when it is too late. They call after things start to smell or the ground gets soggy over the absorption (drain field) area. By then, it’s usually too late, your septic system is malfunctioning (not draining correctly) and repair and/or replacement is in the near future. And contrary to major advertising, no number of additives can save it.
Preventative maintenance is very important! An “install and forget” mentality will get you in the long run. All septic systems will malfunction sooner than later without proper care.
Preventative maintenance will extend the life of your septic system.
Septic systems have a lifespan.
A traditional, year-round used septic system will last approx. 15-20 years as long as it is properly designed, installed and maintained.
Consult with your local certified septic contractor to keep your septic system happy & functioning well for many years.
Keep your septic system happy & healthy. In the long run it will keep your home, property and environment healthy & working well for many years to come.
Consult with A-Norton Septic Contracting. We know Septic!
Remember it is the most expensive utility in your home-make it last!