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How to Locate Your Septic Tank

Home With Backyard

If you’ve recently purchased a home, finding out where the septic tank is located was probably not one of your biggest concerns in the process. With septic systems, however, problems can escalate quickly, from a slight odor outside to wastewater backing up into your home in a matter of days. Knowing where your septic tank is located allows you and your service provider to address problems quickly, and it’s also necessary for regular septic maintenance. Follow these tips to locate the septic system in your yard.

Inspect Your Property

The easiest way to locate your septic tank is to survey your property. Start by ruling out areas where the tank could not be located. For instance, a septic tank cannot be installed directly next to your home or your property line. Due to the potential for water contamination, septic systems can also not be installed near wells. You can eliminate the areas under paved surfaces like sidewalks, driveways, and patios, as well.

Most septic systems will be installed within 5 to 15 feet of your home. Scan this area looking for elevation differences. You may notice a small mound in the middle of your yard. This could be caused by a tank that was installed in a hole that was too shallow. Alternatively, you may notice a divot in the soil, or an area that appears sunken in slightly. This could indicate that a tank was installed in a hole deeper than the tank itself.

Another indication of a septic tank’s location could be the grass around it. When a septic tank begins to overflow, it may cause the grass above it to grow more quickly than the surrounding areas. In some instances, it could also cause the grass to die. Any changes could be indicative of a septic tank below.

When you’ve narrowed down the area of the tank, use a soil probe to pinpoint its exact location. Because tanks can be installed 1 to 4 feet underground, be sure your probe is longer than 4 feet. Then use a hammer to drive the probe downward toward the possible tank lid. A metal detector could also be used to locate the tank underground.

Follow the Main Sewer Line

Another way to narrow down the location of your septic tank is to use the main sewer line as your guide. In your basement or crawlspace, locate the pipe that leads to your septic system. It’s usually around 4 inches in diameter. Next, head to that location in the exterior of your home and look straight out toward your property line. If you cannot see any elevation or landscape changes to indicate a septic tank, you’ll need to use your soil probe. Start at about 5 feet away from your home and probe the soil every 2 feet, until you’ve located the tank.

Check Property Records

Because a septic tank’s location could impact nearby water sources, a permit is required to install them. This means that your city or county is likely to have a record of the tank’s installation in its property records. In fact, you may have a copy of this, as well, in the purchase documents for your home. If you have an older home, the city may not have a record because permitting was not required at the time the tank was installed.

Contact a Septic Maintenance Company

If you cannot locate the exact location of your septic tank on your own, it may be time to contact a septic maintenance professional. Chances are, the previous owner of your home had the septic tank pumped at least once, and the septic company may have records of its location on your property. While they are visiting your property, be sure to ask for an inspection, as well, so you know the state of your septic system.

What’s Next?

Once you’ve determined the location of your septic tank, it may be wise to mark the spot in some way. Permanent landmarks like landscaping should not be used, because they’ll need to be removed when access to the tank is needed. In addition, roots can grow into the tank or leach field, causing damage. Instead, consider a removable marker like a potted plant or bird bath, to help you remember where tank access can be found.

Next, be sure to set up a regular maintenance plan for your septic tank. If you’ve not yet had your septic system inspected, establish a relationship with a local service provider. Typically, your tank should be pumped every 3 to 5 years. Between pumpings, you can do other things to keep your system running effectively. A bacteria-based product, for instance, can be added to your drains or toilets monthly. The bacteria in the cleaner will fully digest waste inside, helping to maintain levels in the tank throughout the year.

Locating Your Septic Tank for Regular Maintenance

Most septic systems are installed underground, designed to be hidden from view. For regular maintenance and repairs, however, it’s important to know the exact location of your tank. One easy way to locate it is to find a small divot or hill in your yard. Insert a soil probe to verify it’s buried there. You can also use your main sewer line as a guide, or check property records for more information. Once located, conduct regular tank maintenance. Use a bacteria-based product monthly to keep your tank working efficiently, and schedule pumpings every few years, as well.

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Can You Have a Septic Tank Without a Leach Field?

Septic Tank

Whether you’re building a new home or repairing an existing septic system, you may be wondering how necessary a leach field really is. While your septic tank holds the wastewater flowing from your home, it can only hold so much. A leach field is needed to filter out that wastewater. However, when space or environmental sensitivity are concerns, alternative septic systems and leach fields may be an option.

How Does a Septic System Work?

In homes without connection to municipal sewers, septic systems are installed to remove wastewater. As you flush your toilets, take a shower, and even do your laundry, wastewater from your home flows into a septic tank. There, naturally occurring bacteria begin to break down the waste, which is divided into three layers. Solid waste sinks to the bottom, while oil and grease will float to the top. The middle layer is liquid waste, or effluent.

The leach field is an essential part of the system that removes the effluent from the tank and filters it throughout the ground beneath your yard. How does this happen? The liquid waste flows into the drain outlet pipe which leads to a series of perforated pipes. Wastewater then slowly seeps into the soil surrounding the pipes.

Why do you need a Leach Field with a Septic Tank?

Regular septic pumpings are an important part of system maintenance. Without a functioning leach field, however, you’d need to have your tank pumped by a professional much more frequently. If not, wastewater would begin to back up into your drains and toilets. You’d also likely notice an increase in utility costs without a way to filter wastewater efficiently.

Proper wastewater disposal is vital to the environment and communities. For that reason, many states and municipalities have laws and regulations for septic system usage. Most also require a leach field to be used in conjunction with a septic tank.

Situations Where a Leach Field may not be Necessary

Failing the Perc Test

Because a leach field disperses wastewater into the surrounding soil, the soil needs to have the capacity to absorb and retain the water. A percolation test is used to test just that. If the soil surrounding your leach field cannot properly absorb wastewater, it could lead to flooding and other issues. When soil doesn’t pass the perc test, a standard septic system cannot be installed.

Older Septic Systems

A hundred years ago, homes may have been built with septic systems, but not leach fields. Instead of filtering water throughout the yard, the wastewater would often spill into nearby waterways. Clearly, this is not an environmentally friendly or healthy solution today. Because of this, if you purchase an older home that does not have a leach field, you may be required to bring your septic system up to code.

Lack of Space

Most building codes require a specific setback from lot lines and waterways. On rare occasions, the size of the lot may not be large enough to install a leach field that meets those setback regulations. In these situations, an alternative septic system will be needed.

Shallow Water Table

Leach fields must be deep enough below ground to avoid damage from foot traffic or root systems. In areas where the water table is shallow, however, it’s possible for wastewater to flow into groundwater before it’s been properly treated with the microbes in the soil. To avoid groundwater contamination, an alternative septic system will be needed.

Nearby Water Sensitive to Pollution

Contaminated waterways can wreak havoc on delicate ecosystems. If your planned leach field is too close in proximity to a body of water, it will likely violate building codes and cannot be installed.

Alternative Septic Systems

While traditional septic systems are the norm in building homes today, there are a few alternatives that can be used when a leach field cannot be installed. They include:

  • Mound Systems
    These systems are a possible solution for areas with shallow water tables or dense soil. They are above ground, covered in topsoil, and include a pump chamber to separate scum and sludge, allowing effluent to flow freely into the septic tank.
  • Aerobic Treatment Systems
    For smaller spaces, an aerobic treatment system may be the right choice. With these systems, air is pulled into the septic tank, allowing the natural bacteria to actively clean it.
  • Sand Filtration Systems
    For environmentally sensitive areas, a sand filtration system could be the right choice. Wastewater passes directly through a recirculating sand filter to remove contaminants. It then safely disperses into the soil below.
  • Evapotranspiration Systems
    While this system has a traditional drain field, wastewater does not merge with groundwater. That’s because the base of the drain field is lined with a thick waterproof material that creates a barrier between the wastewater and the soil. When the effluent makes its way through the field, it evaporates instead.

The Importance of a Leach Field

If you have a septic system, you need a way to remove the wastewater from it. In fact, it’s often required by law. In traditional septic systems, this process is effectively performed with a leach field. However, there are some instances when a leach field cannot be installed, including space restrictions, environmental concerns, and soil quality. When using a leach field isn’t possible, you’ll need to consider alternative septic systems. While typically more expensive, these systems are often more environmentally friendly and space conscious.

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BioOne vs. Green Gobbler Drain & Septic Cleaner

Water Running Down Drain

If you have a septic system, you understand the importance of maintaining it. Though regular pumpings and inspections are an essential part of maintaining your system, they aren’t the only solutions available. Two popular products, BioOne and Green Gobbler Septic Saver, can be used regularly to maintain the natural balance inside your tank. While both contain bacteria, their processes differ. We’ll breakdown the differences of these 2 popular products.

What is BioOne?

BioOne is a bacteria-based product used for maintaining septic systems, grease traps, drains and RV holding tanks. When added to your tank, the bacteria in BioOne begin to completely digest waste, including fats, oils, and greases, or FOG. It can be used in emergency applications and is also recommended for regular use to avoid emergencies before they occur. The product comes in both liquid and powder forms.

BioOne contains no added enzymes and instead relies on live, vegetative microbes to degrade FOG in septic tanks and grease traps. It’s environmentally friendly and safe to use around pets and children. Though it isn’t a food product, it’s been manufactured to food standards to ensure its safety.

What is Green Gobbler?

Green Gobbler is a company that sells a wide range of cleaners, openers, weed killers, and more. They carry a line of drain cleaners that provide similar solutions to BioOne, including the Green Gobbler Septic Saver. This product is designed to help break down organic material that builds up in a septic tank over time. Septic Saver comes in both liquid and pods, and it’s designed for regular use.

While it’s a bacteria-based product, as well, Green Gobbler Septic Saver relies on the enzymes produced by the bacteria to break down waste. The product is environmentally safe, though the packaging recommends storing it away from children and pets.

Differences Between BioOne and Green Gobbler


BioOne contains all natural ingredients that are safe to use on a regular basis in drains, septic tanks, grease traps, and RV holding tanks. It’s made of 100 percent vegetative microbes. The product, both liquid and powder, is free of hazardous and toxic chemicals, as defined by OSHA. While the active ingredient is vegetative microbes, the inactive ingredient in the liquid product is water. There are no added perfumes, and BioOne has a natural, earthy scent.

The ingredients in Green Gobbler Septic Saver Pacs is a wheat-bran based powder containing dye and naturally occurring viable bacterial cultures. The liquid ingredients are stated as 100% natural bacteria & enzymes. OSHA states that the product can be corrosive to metals, and may cause skin irritation and eye damage.


Both BioOne and Green Gobbler Septic Saver are bacteria-based products. Once bacteria are introduced to a septic tank, they get to work immediately breaking down organic material. The enzymes utilized in Green Gobbler will quickly liquify fats, oils, and greases, while BioOne is designed to fully digest FOG.

Liquifying FOG is an effective, short term fix, as liquid grease and fats will likely solidify again. This could happen inside the tank, which would require more product to be added or a septic tank pumping. It could also occur within the leach field, resulting in potential septic backups and possible damage.

A product that relies on bacteria alone may be a more effective solution in the long term. That’s because the bacteria completely digests FOG, rather than liquifies it. When FOG is digested fully, the concern for clogs is reduced. It also helps maintain the natural balance of the tank, and could result in longer time periods between each pumping.

Choosing an Effective Product to Maintain your Septic System

When it comes to septic maintenance, you have many options to choose from. Both BioOne and Green Gobbler Septic Saver will work fast to break down organic matter in your tank. The enzymes in Green Gobbler’s product will liquify FOG, while BioOne utilizes bacteria that fully digest it. Read product labels to learn the ingredients, and follow safety guidelines while using any cleaning product. Prioritizing septic maintenance and choosing the right product will help your tank work effectively well into the future.

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Leach Field Replacement: Cost Breakdown

Woman Holding Receipts

Your leach field plays an important role in your overall septic system. With proper maintenance, you can expect your leach field to last up to 20 years. When the time comes to replace it, however, you may be wondering how much it will cost.

Because the process to replace a leach field is labor intensive, the costs can begin to add up quickly. Factors like the type of leach field your installing, the size, accessibility, and even soil type will determine your overall costs for replacement. On average, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 to replace a leach field.

Factors that Impact Cost

The figures above are estimates, and the actual costs can vary, based on a variety of factors. Size is an obvious determinant of costs. Leach fields, also known as drain fields, are sized and installed based on the size of the home or business that will use it. Replacing a larger leach field will require more supplies and labor, which will increase the overall cost of replacement.

Where the leach field is located can also affect the cost of replacement. If your original leach is difficult to access or is obstructed by vegetation, you can expect to pay more for excavation and installation. Leach fields that are built on a slope will also increase costs.

Your installer will evaluate the type of soil in your drain field, as well. If your yard contains hard clay, it may be more challenging to remove the existing leach field. Soil that has been contaminated from a septic leak will also need to be completely removed and replaced in the installation process.

Types of Leach Fields and How They Impact Cost

The type of drain field you have will have a large impact on the overall cost of replacement. Not sure what type of drain field you currently have? Here’s an overview:

Anaerobic drain field

This conventional leach field takes wastewater from the septic tank and distributes it through perforated pipes underground. Wastewater is then filtered through the pipes into the soil surrounding it.

Cost to replace an anaerobic drain field: $2,000-$6,000

Aerobic drain field

This system uses an oxygenated treatment tank to encourage the natural bacteria to consume waste more efficiently.

Cost to replace an aerobic drain field: $7,000-$10,000

Evapotranspiration drain field

This system is only found in arid regions. It releases wastewater into a trench covered in sand, where it then evaporates directly into the air.

Cost to replace an evapotranspiration drain field: $8,000-$15,000

Mound drain field

This system is installed above ground level and filled with sand, containing perforated leach pipes. Wastewater is filtered and distributed through the sand.

Cost to replace a mound drain field: $10,000-$20,000

Cost Breakdown

Perc Testing—A percolation test is required before a new leach field can be installed. It evaluates the absorption rate of the soil around the leach field. The average cost of perc testing is around $1,000.

Permits—Your city will require a permit before work can be completed. This is to make sure that the work will remain on your lot and not interfere with existing utilities. Depending on local government regulations, the proper permits could cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000.

Labor—Installing a leach field is quite labor intensive, and the labor itself will typically make up around 60% of the overall cost. The average cost of labor to replace a leach field is around $3,600.

Excavation—Expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $5 per square foot for excavation. Soil type and accessibility will play a role in determining where your project falls in that range.

Miscellaneous Costs—As with any large home project, expect additional costs throughout the process. If trees need to be removed or fences taken down, you may pay more. The cost of sod to cover the field once it’s installed should also be factored into the overall cost of the project.

Cost of Replacing Your Leach Field

Replacing a leach field is never an exciting project, but it’s definitely an important one, especially when foul odors and septic backup begin to make their way into your home. The actual cost to replace your leach field will vary, depending on the type, size, and location of your existing system, though the average cost is between $5,000 and $20,000.

Fortunately, if you maintain your septic system properly, you can expect your leach field to last up to 20 years. To lengthen the life span of your leach field, be sure to pump your septic tank regularly, and use a bacteria-based product that will aid in digesting waste in your system. These simple steps will help prevent costly clogs and burst pipes in your leach field, and will help it to function properly for years to come.

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Can BioOne be used in an RV Holding Tank?

RV Camper in the Woods

When you were shopping for an RV or camper, you were probably focused on the number of beds, the style of the kitchen, or even the size of the shower. All of these things are an important part of the camping experience, but don’t overlook another essential feature: the holding tank. If it’s working properly, you may even forget about your holding tank, but if it’s not, your RV may not be filled with happy campers. It’s critical to maintain your RV holding tank while you’re out on the road, and BioOne can help.

How to Care for Your RV Holding Tank

At home, what you flush down the toilets and pour down your drains might seem like an “out of sight, out of mind” process. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with your RV or camper toilets and drains, where everything flows into one or two holding tanks with limited capacity. Whatever winds up in the tanks, from wastewater to food scraps, must be dumped from the tanks periodically to avoid back-ups and foul odors.

In order to care for your RV holding tank, you need to be mindful of what ends up in it. When the wrong things make their way into the tank, they can cause clogs and a host of other issues. Be sure to flush only waste, wastewater, and toilet paper down your camper toilets. Things like paper towels, baby wipes, and feminine hygiene items should be thrown away instead. When it comes to your sink drains, stick to water and gentle soaps. Even anti-bacterial soaps or cleaners can throw off the natural balance of the tank and slow the breakdown process.

Your holding tanks will need to be dumped regularly. The exact frequency will be determined by a variety of factors, including the size of the tanks and the number of people using the RV kitchen and bathrooms. As a general rule, though, it’s a good idea to dump your tanks every 4 to 5 days, or when your tank reaches two-thirds capacity. If you need to dump your RV holding tanks before they are filled, add some water to the tank to allow the solids to be flushed away easier.

Flushing your tank helps remove build-up inside it, and it’s just as important as regular dumpings, though it’s not needed as frequently. Consider doing a full tank flush to loosen caked-on waste and debris after every 3 to 5 dumpings.

Why is BioOne a Good Product for Your Tank?

Usually, when it comes to tackling tough cleaning projects, we reach for harsh chemicals. They aren’t the best choice for your RV holding tank, though. When you use caustic cleaners to scrub your camper’s sink or toilet, those chemicals will eventually make their way into your holding tanks, where they will kill off the good bacteria inside.

When the bacteria is no longer present, the waste inside won’t break down quickly. You’re likely to experience foul smells, and you’ll need to dump your tank more often as well. Any harsh products, including cleaners like bleach and ammonia, and other liquids like alcohol should be avoided if possible.

Instead, opt for natural cleaning methods, and be sure to add a bacteria-based product like BioOne to your tanks regularly. Rather than kill off the bacteria inside, when you flush BioOne, it will introduce new bacteria to your holding tank. Once inside, the bacteria will get right to work breaking down and fully digesting the waste inside. The result is a reduction in odors and more time between dumpings for your RV or camper holding tank. (Note, BioOne comes in gallon sizes as well as a dry formula).

Using BioOne in your RV Holding Tank

Whether you’re a weekend camper or a full time RV-er, caring for your RV holding tank should be a high priority. Start by switching up some habits. Avoid flushing anything but wastewater and toilet paper down your toilet, and keep harsh cleaners out of your sink drains too. Dump your tank when it’s about two-thirds full, and consider flushing the holding tank after every 3 to 5 dumps, as well. Using a bacteria-based product will help maintain the natural balance of the tank and may even reduce the frequency of dumpings. The next time you hit the road, bring some BioOne with you to keep your holding tank well maintained throughout your trip and into the future.

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Keeping Campground Septic Systems Working

Camper on Campground

Over the past few years, the RV lifestyle has continued to gain popularity, and not just for vacationers. Rather than taking week-long trips to state parks, many are now embarking on full-time life on the road. With so many new campers pulling up to your dump stations, it’s important to make sure they are functioning properly. Otherwise, you won’t just have a big mess on your hands, but some unhappy campers, too! Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to keep your septic system functioning properly, as long as you institute some safe septic habits.

Things that may Harm Campground Septic Tanks

Your dump station and septic system are designed to effectively break down solids in wastewater, but some things cannot be so easily broken down. While it’s likely that things like baby wipes, paper towels, and food scraps will make their way down the tanks of campground visitors, there’s a chance that doing so could cause damage to your septic system as a whole.

Unlike wastewater and some types of food scraps, these things cannot be broken down in the tank. Instead, they float in the wastewater and could easily find their way into the leach pipes that remove the water from the tank and disperse it in the drain field. Fortunately, many experienced RVers know that flushing things down the toilet or pouring grease down the drain isn’t good for their tank or your dump station. However, it’s wise to make sure that all campers have easy access to trash cans or dumpsters, especially at the dump site, to discourage flushing anything away.

Your septic system relies on bacteria within the tank to break down the wastewater inside. Harsh chemicals in RV toilets, showers, and sinks, as well as products used to clean and sanitize the dump station itself, have the potential to kill off the good bacteria in the tank. This leads to more frequent tank pumpings and potential clogs in the leach field.

Bacteria-based cleaners have the opposite effect on the tank. Rather than killing off the bacteria inside, they add bacteria into the tank. As soon as the new bacteria is introduced, it goes right to work fully digesting wastewater—including fats, oils, or greases (FOG)—inside the tank. With the frequent use of bacteria-based products, you can actually reduce the frequency of pumpings your dump station will need over time and decrease the likelihood of clogging the system. Unfortunately, you can’t control the cleaning products your visitors use inside their campers, but you can add bacteria-based products directly into your dump station to promote healthy bacteria growth inside your septic tank.

How to Properly Maintain Campground Septic Systems

Even with the best septic habits, increased use of the dump station will require frequent cleaning of the septic tank. This is especially true during your busy season, when the tank may become overloaded with continued use. If this happens, you may notice backups in the system or a strain on the drain field. Check sludge levels often, and be sure to have the tank pumped when the levels rise to capacity or dip lower toward the drain outlet pipe.

The dump station and septic system rely on an effective leach field to function properly. So, when the leach field and drain pipes are damaged, it could result in major issues and costly repairs. You may even need to shut down your dump station for a time, which could directly impact your visitor experience.

To prevent issues in your leach field, protecting the area should be a top priority. While walking over the leach field won’t cause any damage to the system, driving or parking vehicles, especially RVs and travel trailers, could result in broken drain pipes. Be sure to close the area off to vehicles and heavy machinery.

Planting trees or bushes around the septic system can also lead to damage. Even if something isn’t planted directly over the leach field, roots of nearby trees and bushes could grow into the system over time. Consider removing existing vegetation around the tank, as well, to reduce the risk of breakage in the future.

Maintaining your Campground Septic System

It’s probably not the most exciting feature of your campground, but the dump station plays an important role in the camp experience. Be sure it’s functioning properly by following a few simple tips. Flushing anything but wastewater and septic-safe toilet paper can lead to clogs in the septic system, so encourage campers to throw away trash, rather than flush it. Add good bacteria to the tank often to aid in the breakdown of waste and FOG, and pump the tank when sludge levels rise. Protect the area around the septic system and leach field, as well, to keep everything functioning properly. These tips will keep your campers happy for years to come!

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Reducing Restaurant Costs by Better Managing Grease

Commercial Kitchen

The grease trap is an important part of every commercial kitchen, even if most people don’t know it’s there. The tank itself is usually not an expensive investment. Just be sure to purchase the right size tank for your business, usually set by local building codes. When the grease trap is working properly, however, costs for pumping, repairs, and even fines can be drastically reduced.

Improving Restaurant Grease Management

Clean Your Grease Trap Periodically
The grease trap in your restaurant or commercial kitchen will only function properly if it’s cleaned on a regular basis. When it’s not cleaned and serviced in a timely often enough, fats, oils, and greases, or FOG, could make its way into the drain line, where it will quickly solidify, creating clogs and backups in other areas of your kitchen. A full grease trap will also emit an unpleasant odor that can not only turn away customers, but attract rodents and bugs as well.

How often you need to clean a grease trap is determined by a number of factors, including the size of the tank itself and the amount of grease used in the kitchen’s food preparation. Cities and municipalities often have cleaning requirements, as well. Many will require you to clean your tank when FOG accumulation reaches 25 percent of the tank.

Properly Train Employees
Employees often serve as grease managers, whether they realize it or not. Chefs, prep cooks, dishwashers, and even wait staff may all come in contact with—and dispose of—FOG. Because of this, everyone working in your restaurant or commercial kitchen must understand the importance of grease management. Be sure that the staff knows where to dispose of grease and put cleaning protocols in place to ensure that a minimal amount of FOG ends up in drain pipes. Failing to educate employees could result in plumbing issues and even costly fines later on.

Select the Right Cleaning Products
Your grease trap works best when the FOG inside is broken down and ingested by the bacteria in the tank. Unfortunately, many common cleaning products, from liquid drain cleaners to the laundry detergent used to wash napkins and tablecloths, could kill off this much-needed bacteria. When this happens, FOG will accumulate quickly, leading to not only more frequent cleaning, but potential plumbing problems as well.

Consider introducing a natural, bacteria-based product to your grease trap. Once injected, the bacteria goes straight to work, completely digesting fats, oils, and greases. Because the FOG is quickly broken down, it’s less likely to end up in drain pipes, decreases the frequency of cleanings, and even reduces the foul odors that can sometimes come from full grease traps.

Proper Grease Management Can Reduce Restaurant Costs

When grease traps are cleaned frequently, the process is fairly simple and straightforward. When FOG is left to build up inside the tank, however, cleaning becomes more difficult, and therefore, more costly. Fats, oils, and greases harden as they accumulate, coating the inside of the tank and drainage pipes. Just as grease is challenging to remove from kitchen equipment and cookware, it is both time and labor intensive to remove from grease traps and drain lines. Many service providers will charge additional fees for these services, which could exceed the costs that you would have incurred for regular, periodic cleanings. Managing the FOG in your grease trap before it builds up is likely to result in much lower grease management costs over time.

When a grease trap overflows, it not only has dire consequences for your commercial kitchen, it can also have significant impacts on the environment, including your city’s wastewater and stormwater drainage systems. For this reason, government agencies often impose fines on businesses when grease traps overflow. Depending on where your business is located, you can expect to pay $1000 or more in fines each time this happens. Improved grease management will help your business avoid this unnecessary problem.

When a grease trap isn’t well managed, the repair costs could go beyond simply cleaning the tank. Grease is a leading cause of drain clogs in commercial kitchens and restaurants. When clogs in drain lines begin to back up into sink drains and dishwashers, you can expect expensive plumbing repairs, and potentially lost sales as well, if the kitchen must shut down. You may also need to replace the grease trap altogether. With proper maintenance and management, however, your drain lines are less likely to clog, and you can expect your tank to last up to 10 years.

Grease Management for Restaurants

While it may not seem as high a priority as managing inventory, preparing delicious food, or providing quality customer service, grease management can have a direct impact on your bottom line. When your grease trap isn’t properly maintained, your restaurant or commercial kitchen could be shelling out thousands in service fees and fines, not to mention the potential for lost sales due to foul odors or kitchen shutdowns. Clean your grease traps frequently, train employees to dispose of grease properly, and use bacteria-based products to keep FOG buildup down and avoid costly repairs. Doing so will reduce costs and keep your grease trap functioning properly for years to come.

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What Cleaning Products are Safe for Septic Tanks?

Water Running Down a Drain

If you own a home with a septic system, you’re well aware of the objects that shouldn’t go down the drain. Paper towels, for instance, won’t break down and could easily clog your pipes, and pouring grease down the drain could have similar results. Did you know, though, that cleaning products, from laundry detergents to toilet bowl cleaners, could also damage your septic tank and leach field? Knowing which cleaning products to use—and which ones to avoid—is essential for maintaining your septic system.

Types of Cleaning Products to Avoid

The sludge inside your septic tank should be broken down before it makes its way through the outlet pipe and into the leach field. To do this, the septic system is designed to utilize bacteria within the tank. Unfortunately, many cleaners that may be safe to use in other households will destroy bacteria in your tank, making it difficult for waste to break down and increasing the likelihood of clogs.

Bleach, for instance, is a disinfectant, which means it’s designed to kill bacteria. That may sound ideal for scrubbing a dirty toilet, but once it’s flushed down, the bleach will begin to kill off the good bacteria in your tank. Ammonia is another popular cleaner that is not recommended for use in homes with septic tanks.

Drain cleaner is another culprit for killing off good bacteria. While it can be frustrating to deal with a clogged drain, reaching for a powerful drain cleaner could cause more frustration once it reaches your septic tank. In addition to throwing off the natural balance within the tank, foaming cleaners can actually do damage to the tank itself as well. One good rule of thumb is that if you need to wear gloves to handle the product, it probably isn’t safe for your septic system.

Types of Cleaning Products to Use

If you’re wondering about the safety of a particular store-bought cleaner, check the labeling. Most septic-safe cleaners include a logo to indicate they can be used in homes with septic systems, though even if something is considered safe, it still may not be the best choice. Instead, take a look at the ingredients list. If the first thing listed is water, it’s likely safe to use. Many disinfectants, bathroom cleaners, and even laundry detergents are now water-based.

You may actually have several septic-safe cleaners in your home, without needing to go to the store. Natural cleaners are not only good for the environment, they are effective and safe for your septic system as well. You’ve probably heard of using white vinegar and baking soda, but lemon juice, salt, and even borax have natural cleaning properties that won’t kill off the good bacteria in your septic tank.

Fortunately, there is another option that isn’t just safe for septic tanks, but beneficial too. Bacteria-based cleaning products introduce more good bacteria into your septic tank. Once inside, the bacteria get to work to completely digest fats, oils, and greases, or FOG, inside the tank. Think of it as a probiotic for your septic tank, as it helps to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the tank and keeps the system functioning properly.

Why it’s Important to Select Septic Safe Cleaning Products

Solid waste, including FOG, creates a layer of sludge that floats at the top of the tank. When there aren’t enough good bacteria to completely digest this layer of sludge, it could make its way into the outlet pipe that leads to your leach field, clogging the pipe and causing damage to the entire system. You’ll also need to pump your septic tank more frequently to remove the growing sludge layer.

One more reason to consider the cleaning products you use is the environmental impact. Everything that is flushed or poured down the drain will make its way to your tank, and then eventually to your leach field and yard. The tank will not filter out chemicals and toxins, so those, too, will filter into your yard, which may be a concern for your family and pets. On the contrary, natural and bacteria-based cleaning products are safe for everyone.

Don’t Damage Your Septic Tank with the Wrong Cleaners

As you select septic-safe toilet paper and avoid dumping coffee grounds down the drain, consider your cleaning products as well. Harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia will kill off important bacteria and allow sludge to build up in your tank. They’ll also eventually leach into your yard. Instead, purchase water-based cleaners, or, better yet, make your own from natural products. Then, add good bacteria to your tank by using a bacteria-based product. They will then safely begin to break down the solid waste and FOG inside the tank, which will reduce the likelihood of clogs and may even allow you to pump your tank less frequently. Opting for safe cleaning products will help your septic system operate properly for years to come.

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How to Make Your Leach Field Last Longer

Septic Tank Pumping

Within a septic system, the leach field performs a very important job, so it’s understandable that you would want to ensure it’s functioning properly well into the future. Fortunately, with proper service and maintenance, and some healthy septic habits, your leach field could last as long as 50 years!

Inspect and Pump Often

The leach field is only one part of the septic system. If you want to increase the lifespan of your leach field, you’ll need to make septic tank maintenance a high priority. Have your tank inspected regularly to detect potential issues early and to monitor sludge levels.

When the sludge level begins to rise, it could make its way into the outlet pipe that connects the tank to the drain field pipes, leading to slow drainage and potential clogs. To avoid this damage, the septic tank should also be pumped regularly. How often the septic tank needs to be pumped depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the tank, the number of people living in the home, and the total wastewater usage. On average, most septic tanks will need to be pumped every three to five years.

Keep Records of All Septic Tank Services

While you may notice some outward signs that there could be problems with your septic system (like foul smells or overly-saturated ground above), most potential issues are hidden in the tank itself. Be sure to keep detailed records of all service and maintenance, including sludge levels. You may even begin to see some patterns form that could help predict future pumpings.

Use Water Efficiently

Every household relies on water usage, but for homeowners with septic tanks, it’s important to be mindful of just how much water is used. On average, individuals use about 70 gallons of water a day, and septic tanks are actually sized based on the number of individuals that live in the home. However, when large amounts of water go down the drain too quickly, it can overload the tank, making it harder to process and drain in the leach field.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to reduce water usage:

  • High-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators—These simple swaps can help reduce water usage during daily tasks like showering or washing the dishes.
  • Washing machine usage—The load size you select determines the amount of water that is used. Adjust the load size on the machine for each load, and consider spreading out your clothes washing to multiple days to reduce wastewater overload in the septic tank.
  • High-efficiency toilets—Older toilets use 3 to 5 gallons of water with every flush, while newer, high-efficiency toilets use only 1.6 gallons.

Properly Dispose of Waste

It may seem like everything that goes down the drain is gone forever, but if you have a septic tank, that isn’t the case. Whatever goes down your drains and toilets will quickly end up in your septic tank, and eventually your leach field. When solids and non-biodegradable products are flushed or poured down the drain, the lifespan of your leach field will shrink.

Nothing but wastewater and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Even flushable wipes aren’t considered septic safe and could lead to clogged drain pipes later on. Other things that should be avoided include paper towels, coffee grounds, and cooking grease or oil.

Using harsh chemicals and drain cleaners can also throw off the natural balance of your septic tank. Swap those for a biological-based product containing live bacteria. Once introduced to the tank, the bacteria will begin to completely digest waste, including fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) in the sludge layer. Consistent use of biological-based products could even lengthen your time between pumpings.

Maintain Your Drain Field

When you are thinking about how to extend the lifespan of a drain field, it’s important to know that what happens above it matters just as much as what happens within it. When wastewater enters drain pipes in the leach field, it begins to slowly leach into the ground around it. If the ground is already saturated, however, it can slow or stop the leach field from working properly. Be sure to keep rainwater drainage systems like roof drains and sump pumps away from the leach field.

Avoid parking or driving over your leach field as well. Because the ground around the leach field tends to be softer, it could lead to crushed pipes. Roots can also wreak havoc on leach fields. Don’t plant trees or bushes near your drainage system, and if older trees have root systems that begin to stretch into the area, consider removing them to avoid damage to your pipes.

Getting Maximum Use from Your Leach Field

With proper maintenance and care, your leach field can last decades. Because everything that flows into your leach pipes comes from your septic tank, it’s important to inspect and pump the tank regularly. Keep detailed records of any service to your septic tank and leach field as well, paying close attention to sludge levels. Consider making simple changes to reduce water usage, and avoid putting anything other than wastewater and toilet paper down toilets and drains, though biological-based products can actually aid in septic maintenance. Rainwater drainage, cars, and root systems can also cause damage to your leach field and should be avoided. Following these tips should ensure that your leach field will function properly for years to come.

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Is Your Restaurant Grease Trap Constantly Plugged?

Commercial Kitchen

Restaurant owners are in business to provide delicious food and service to their customers, not to conduct regular maintenance on their grease traps. However, grease traps perform an important role in any commercial kitchen, and forgetting to clean them could lead to some pretty unpleasant consequences for your employees and guests. It’s important to know the signs of a filling grease trap, and how to clean it before problems start to arise in your kitchen, restrooms, and dining area.

How to Determine if Your Trap Needs Cleaning

Slow Moving Drainage
Fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) typically enter your wastewater system as liquids, but will then begin to accumulate and solidify. Over time, then, you’ll begin to notice slow drainage, not just in your commercial kitchen, but in your restaurant’s bathroom sinks and toilets as well. This is a clear sign that your grease trap is in need of cleaning. Waiting could eventually lead to clogs and backups in your sinks and drains.

Foul Smells
When FOG sits in your grease trap for an extended period of time, a foul smell will develop. If you notice an odor lingering in your kitchen—or worse, your dining room—a full grease trap could be the culprit.

Grease is Leaking
Grease will find its way out of your drains and pipes one way or another. If your grease trap is full or clogged, you may notice grease leaking out of your sinks, water lines, and pipes. When this happens, the grease trap should be cleaned as soon as possible.

The Trap is More than a Quarter Full
When your grease trap is full, cleaning will not only become more urgent but also more challenging. Instead, plan to clean your grease trap when it is only a quarter full. Doing so at this point could also help you avoid many of the unpleasant side effects listed above.

How to Unclog and Clean a Grease Trap

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your grease traps will help prevent slow drainage, foul odors, clogs, and leaks. Determine a time every week (or more frequently, if your traps clog quickly) to perform maintenance on your grease traps. Keep in mind, the job can get messy, so you’ll want to wait until your establishment is closed. Consider wearing coveralls to protect your clothing and a mask to help with the smell, as well. Then follow these steps to ensure your trap is cleaned properly:

  1. Once you’ve located the grease trap and removed the lid (slowly, so as not to splatter excess grease), you will need to measure the amount of grease currently in the trap. To do this, stick a ruler into the trap until it hits the bottom. Then record how many inches of grease are in the tank in the FOG report provided by the EPA.
  2. Next, you’ll need to remove the water inside the tank. Depending on how much water is present, you may be able to do this with a small bucket. If there’s a significant amount of water inside, a pump may be most effective at removing all the liquid. Set the water aside for later.
  3. Use a large bucket, shovel, or heavy-duty scooper to remove the FOG from the trap. Once the bulk of the grease is out, scrape down the sides and bottom of the trap to get as much out as possible.
  4. Scrub the interior of the grease trap and all its parts with a degreaser. Be sure to remove and flush the screens out as well.
  5. Once the trap is clean and reassembled, you can add the water to the trap again and replace the lid.

Keep Your Grease Trap Working Effectively

As a restaurant owner or a commercial kitchen manager, it can be frustrating when your grease trap is frequently clogged, slowing down the productivity in your kitchen and potentially creating an unpleasant experience for your guests. You can’t avoid the task of cleaning a grease trap, but you may be able to increase the time between cleanings without experiencing some of these side effects.

Consider using a bacteria-based product like Bio One to keep your grease trap functioning properly. When bacteria are introduced to the trap, they will begin working to completely digest the fats, oils, and greases in your trap. The food waste is then converted into carbon dioxide and water. Understandably, it can be challenging to remember to add the product to your busy commercial kitchen. Our auto-injection system will automatically meter the correct amount of Bio One into the drain lines to avoid clogs and backups. This could decrease the frequency of your grease trap cleanings and will allow you and your employees to focus on making delicious food for your customers.

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How Often Should a Septic Tank be Cleaned?

Septic Tank Pumping

Septic systems are designed to disperse wastewater effectively, and when used properly, can function well for years. However, regular pumping and cleaning of the tank itself is necessary to maintain the septic system. How often should a septic tank be cleaned? The answer is based on a variety of factors.

How Long Should You Go Between Septic Cleanings?

Most septic contractors recommend having the tank pumped every 2 to 5 years, but more should go into the decision than these arbitrary guidelines. A septic tank should always be pumped when needed, regardless of the date it was last cleaned. For some households, 5 years is a reasonable timeframe, but for others, more frequency may be needed.

Your system naturally separates household wastewater into three layers. The first is the sludge layer, made up of solids, that settles at the bottom of the tank. Above that is the effluent layer, which has a watery consistency. This is the layer that should freely flow into the leach field. The top layer consists of grease and scum. When the sludge layer gets within 6 inches of the outlet drain or the scum layer falls within 12 inches, your tank should be pumped, regardless of when the last pumping occurred.

Factors that Affect the Frequency of Septic Cleanings

  • Number of People in the Household: The more people that live in a home, the more waste is produced, from flushing toilets to washing dishes. On average, a retired couple could probably go longer between pumpings than a family of five.
  • Size of the Home: The number of bedrooms a home has determines the size of the septic tank that is installed. A 2-bedroom house, for example, may have a 1,000 gallon tank, while a 5-bedroom house would need a 1,500 gallon tank.
  • Size of the Tank: Septic tanks have a limited capacity by design. As the effluent layer rises, it is forced through the drainpipes into the leach field, where it is dispersed through the yard. It could be assumed that a smaller tank would need to be pumped more frequently, but the factors above still play a big role in determining how often a tank should be pumped.
  • Amount of Wastewater Created: The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that the average person uses about 70 gallons of water per day. In households where most members work or attend school outside the home, the amount of wastewater entering the septic tank could be lower, but families that work from home, wash more laundry, or take more frequent showers could use more water than average.

Important Tips on Septic Maintenance

No one wants to pay for a septic pumping when it isn’t needed, but waiting too long between pumpings could lead to more costly and unpleasant issues. For this reason, consider keeping detailed records of your septic system maintenance, including uses you may have with the system and the dates it was pumped. You may begin to notice patterns, like odors appearing every four years, and use that information to schedule pumpings at the three-year mark instead. You should also record the levels of scum and sludge in the tank, and take action when those layers get too close to the outlet drain.

When less water makes its way into the septic tank, it could likely reduce the frequency of septic tank pumpings. Consider ways to bring down your water usage on a daily basis. While you may not be able to reduce the number of times family members flush the toilet, you can swap the toilet for a high-efficiency model. Doing so could reduce your water waste from 5 gallons per flush to 1.6 gallons. You may also want to consider switching to high-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators to reduce water waste in your home. While washing clothes, adjust the load size to match the amount of clothing you are washing. Try spreading washing machine usage throughout the week as well, to allow the tank to process waste efficiently.

To reduce the frequency of septic tank pumping and repairs, it is also important to be mindful of what goes down the drains and toilets in your home. As a rule, nothing but wastewater and septic-safe toilet paper should make its way into your septic tank. Things like food scraps and paper towels could clog your pipes, while harsh chemicals could throw off the natural balance of the tank. Instead, consider using a bacteria-based product, which will introduce healthy bacteria into the tank. The bacteria then work to completely digest the waste, including fats, oils, and greases, or FOG. When the sludge and the scum are fully digested, your tank will need to be pumped less frequently.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Septic Tank

If you own a home with a septic system, pumping the tank is a necessary service. On average, it will need to be pumped every 2-5 years, but factors including the size of the tank, number of people in the house, and wastewater usage could shorten that window. Rather than waiting until you begin to smell sewage or see waste backing up into your home, consider getting ahead of the game by recording sludge levels. You can also reduce water usage with high-efficiency toilets and showerheads. Consider using a bacteria-based product, as well, that will help to reduce the sludge in the tank, and the frequency of pumpings.

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How Long Does a Leach Field Last?

Leach Field

Your leach field performs a critical function for your septic system, so it’s important to make sure it works properly now and for many years in the future. Fortunately, your leach field can last decades if it’s maintained properly. In fact, there are some things you can start today that can ensure your leach field does its job for years to come.

What’s the Average Lifespan of a Leach Field?

Your septic system is comprised of many different parts, and each can have its own lifespan. For instance, a steel septic tank can be expected to last between 15 and 20 years, while a concrete tank could last up to 40 years under the right conditions. A leach field, however, can easily last up to 50 years if properly maintained and protected.

What can Contribute to a Leach Field’s Failure?

While getting 50 years out of a leach field is definitely possible, certain habits and actions can drastically lower its lifespan. Harsh chemicals, for example, can create multiple problems for your entire septic system. Bacteria is needed inside your septic tank to break down waste, including fats, oils, and greases, or FOG. When harsh chemicals are used to clean sinks, toilets, and showers, or when toxic drain cleaners are used, the bacteria inside the tank are killed off. Not only will the tank fill more quickly, it’s more likely that larger particles will float into the leach field, leading to clogged lines. In addition, harsh chemicals can cause corrosion of parts over time.

Another contributing factor to the failure of a leach field is what goes down the drain. We often think that when it comes to waste, it’s “out of sight, out of mind,” but that’s not the case when you have a septic tank. When anything other than waste, toilet paper, and water is flushed or dumped down the drain, it can clog your leach field. This includes things like plastics, diapers, and paper towels, but even wipes that are advertised as flushable are most likely not septic-safe.

Leach fields are usually buried in shallow trenches. Unfortunately, visitors, contractors, and even some homeowners don’t always know where exactly a leach field is located. If vehicles are parked on top of the leach field, or if heavy machinery is used, leach pipes and drainage lines may rupture. Root systems can also wreak havoc on existing leach fields. Often, small trees are planted in the vicinity of the leach field with the assumption that it won’t interfere with the system. Over time, however, the tree and its roots begin to grow and extend throughout the yard, eventually wrapping around drain lines or puncturing pipes.

How to Properly Maintain Your Septic System

Maybe you installed your septic system years ago, or you’ve recently bought a home with an existing septic system. Regardless, there are things you can begin doing now to lengthen the lifespan of your leach field. First, be sure to have your septic system pumped regularly. The average home system should be pumped completely every few years. Doing this will drastically reduce the likelihood that solid waste will enter your leach field piping. Conduct regular inspections, as well, to detect issues early, before major damage occurs.

When too much water enters your septic system at once, it can overload the tank and place added pressure on your leach field. Instead, be mindful of the amount of water your household is using at one time. Rather than running the washing machine, dishwasher, and shower in the same general timeframe, consider spacing out your usage. This will allow your system a chance to dissipate wastewater through your leach field more effectively.

Consider what goes down your drains as well. Instead of using harsh chemicals that can throw off the natural balance of your tank and potentially corrode its parts, use a biological-based product that actually introduces bacteria to the septic tank. The bacteria will completely digest waste, including FOG. Avoid flushing anything down the toilet that isn’t waste, water, and septic-safe toilet paper, as well. Doing this will allow water to move more freely throughout the leach field and reduce the risk of clogging.

Finally, remember that what happens outside the septic system can impact it just as much as what’s happening inside. Don’t drive or park cars and heavy machinery on top of the leach field. Avoid planting trees and shrubs near the leach field as well. If something is already planted there, you may want to consider safely relocating it to keep the root system from invading your leach field’s pipes and drain lines to avoid future problems.

Extending the Lifespan of your Leach Field

Few things inside your home will last as long as your leach field, as long as the leach field and the entire septic system are maintained. Be sure to pump and inspect your system regularly, and spread out water usage to allow the leach field to drain properly. Avoid putting anything down drains and toilets that can cause a clogged line, and use biological-based cleaners to introduce helpful bacteria to the system. Ensure that the field itself is also free of heavy vehicles and expansive root systems. These healthy septic habits will keep your leach field working effectively for up to 50 years!

Should I Use Commercial Chemical Drain Cleaners with a Septic Tank?

     Most homeowners will experience a clogged drain from time to time, whether they have a septic system or not. The solution, however, may not be the same for everyone, especially those with septic tanks. Many commercial chemical drain cleaners say on their label that their product is safe to use with septic systems, but should you really be pouring it down your drains? You should probably consider other options. Read on to learn more.

How Your Septic Tank Functions

     When you flush your toilets or wash your dishes, wastewater flows through your home’s pipes and into your septic tank. There, bacteria break down the solid waste, including fats, oils, and greases (or FOG). Liquid waste then continues through drain pipes and into the leach field. When bacteria aren’t present to break down the solid waste, it will build up and eventually need to be pumped to avoid clogs in the leach field or sewage backups in your home.

Are Commercial Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe for your Septic Tank?

     Commercial chemical drain cleaning products often advertise that they are septic safe, but experts disagree with their safety. In fact, Craig Mains, an Engineering Scientist at the National Environmental Services Center strongly discourages the use of these cleaners in homes with septic systems. He states, “Using commercial chemical drain openers to unclog drains is not recommended for homes that are on septic systems.”

     That’s because the ingredients in these chemical cleaners are dangerous to the natural balance of your septic tank. Ingredients like bleach, lye, aluminum, and salt are used in these products to create a chemical reaction that eliminates clogs in your pipes. Unfortunately, when these components make their way into your septic tank, they immediately begin to kill off essential bacteria. All it takes is half an ounce to destroy the bacteria, but these product labels recommend using 16 ounces or more to clear a clog!

     While your clog may be resolved through the use of these chemical cleaners, the problem will now move to your septic tank. Without bacteria there to fully digest sludge and FOG, the waste in your tank will accumulate, but not be able to exit the tank and flow into your leach field. Solids that do make it into the leach system could create clogs that require costly repairs. You may also begin to notice sewage backing up into your home.

Safe Methods for Unclogging Drains

Fortunately, there are a number of safe ways to unclog a drain that will not cause damage to your septic tank:

  • Use a plunger: If you are using the plunger somewhere other than a toilet, like a bathtub or sink, find the overflow hole and cover it with a washcloth before plunging.
  • Pour boiling water down the drain: Small clogs, especially those caused by soap or grease, can often be easily cleared with boiling water.
  • Use baking soda and vinegar: This method employs a chemical reaction like the commercial drain cleaners, but the ingredients will not kill off the bacteria in your septic tank! Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Cover the drain and wait 30 minutes before flushing with hot water. 
  • Manually clear the clog: Stubborn clogs may require a little elbow grease. A barbed wand or a plumber’s snake can often help dislodge the clog and allow wastewater to flow freely again. If none of these methods work to clear your drain, it’s likely time to call a plumber.

Maintaining Your Septic System

     Dealing with clogs can be a pain, but there are things you can do to maintain your septic system now and avoid costly repairs later. First, be mindful of what you put down the drain or flush down your toilets. Don’t dispose of oils and greases in the kitchen sink, and only flush waste and toilet paper. Even flushable wipes should be avoided when you have a septic system.

     To keep your septic system functioning at peak performance, use an all-natural bacterial-based product regularly. When additional bacteria are introduced to your tank, waste and FOG will be more easily digested, reducing clogs and issues elsewhere in your septic system. You may also be able to go longer periods between pumpings. However, it’s always a good idea to have your septic system inspected once a year.

What Goes Down the Drain Matters

     A clogged drain can be frustrating. Commercial chemical drain cleaners may seem like a quick fix, but it’s likely to cause more problems in the long run. Your septic tank relies on bacteria to break down and fully digest solid waste, but the ingredients in these products actually kill off the bacteria before they can do their job. Instead of reaching for chemical-based cleaners, try using a natural method. Then create healthy septic habits, like watching what you put down the drains, and having your septic system inspected yearly. Be sure to use a bacteria-based product regularly as well, to promote the natural balance of your septic tank and keep it running efficiently all year long.

What is the Cost of Cleaning a Septic Tank?

Septic Tank Pumping

     It may seem like a good idea to forgo septic tank maintenance once in a while, particularly if your system seems to be working fine. While you may save on the cost of cleaning or pumping your tank, it could end up costing more in the long run when problems arise. Instead, it’s best to focus on maintaining your tank through regular cleaning and other strategies.

Factors that Determine the Cost to Clean your Septic Tank

     The cost to clean a septic tank can vary throughout the country, and even neighbors may pay very different costs for septic tank cleanings. That’s because several factors are at play. The size of your home, for instance, has likely dictated the size of the tank. While average septic tanks run between 750 and 1,250 gallons, owners of larger tanks can expect to pay significantly more. The location of the tank on the property also plays a role in determining cost. A tank that is easily accessible will accrue less cost than one with an obstructed access point. The age of the tank itself and the level of waste inside the tank will also influence the cost of the cleaning.

Pumping vs Cleaning a Septic Tank

     Many homeowners think that cleaning the septic tank and pumping it are essentially the same thing, though the two are not actually interchangeable. When a septic tank is pumped, this means that all the liquid in the tank is removed, along with some of the sludge and floating solids, though much of the sludge is left in the tank. A septic cleaning, on the other hand, involves the removal of all the liquids and solids in the tank.

     The size of the tank is the biggest factor in determining the cost of septic pumping. Typically, you can expect to pay around $0.30 per gallon, in addition to the cost of inspection, which is commonly conducted at the same time. On average, homeowners pay around $380, with smaller tanks costing as little as $250 and larger tanks running as high as $1,300. While the cost to pump a larger tank is higher, it will typically need to be pumped less frequently than smaller tanks.

     Like the cost of pumping, cleaning costs are dependent on the size of the septic tank itself. For a 1,000-gallon tank, homeowners can expect to pay around $400 to $1,000, including inspection and assessment. Cleaning for tanks under 750 gallons could cost as little as $75 if they are easily accessible and in relatively good condition. Larger tanks may cost up to $750 to clean.

Maintain Your Septic Tank

     While the cost to pump or clean a septic tank may seem steep to homeowners, it’s better to stay on top of this necessary maintenance. Failing to do so could result in the need for septic tank repair or replacement, costing much more money in the long run. Depending on the repair, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $3,000 to get a septic tank up and running again, and replacing the pump inside the tank could cost as much as $1,400. Rather than pay repair costs, focus on maintenance.

     In addition to conducting regular pumping or cleaning, there are some things you can do to maintain your septic tank. First, pay attention to what goes down your drain. Only flush wastewater and toilet paper, and avoid putting fats and oils down the kitchen sink. Doing this will reduce the amount of sludge and solid particles in the tank, allowing for liquid to flow more freely through the outlet pipe and into the leach field.

     Septic tanks rely on a natural balance of bacteria and enzymes, which break down the solid waste within the tank. Common drain cleaners, bleach, and other chemicals actually kill off bacteria. This results in more sludge and the need for more frequent pumping. Consider using a bacteria-based cleaner instead. These products will introduce more healthy bacteria into your tank. Once there, the bacteria will completely digest fats, oils, and greases (FOG), drastically reducing the likelihood of clogs and the need for pumping or cleaning your tank.

The Cost to Clean Your Septic Tank

     Because costs can vary by region, size of the tank, and the location of the tank, it’s best to talk to your local septic company for more exact pricing. However, the average cost to pump a septic tank is around $380, while the average cost to clean a tank is between $400-$1,000. Overlooking this basic maintenance could end up costing you even more if your tank needs to be repaired or your pump needs replacing. In addition to cleaning or pumping your tank on a regular basis, be mindful of what goes down your drains and avoid chemical cleaners. Instead, opt for a bacteria-based drain cleaner. Once the bacteria is introduced to the tank, it will get right to work digesting FOG, which should reduce the need for pumping and repairs in the future.

How to Unclog a Leach Field

     In this article, we are going to go over how to unclog your leach field, but first, let’s go over what that is? Most homeowners know what a septic tank is, however that is not the only part of the septic tank system. As wastewater flows out of the septic tank and through the underground pipes, it gets soaked up into the leach field. The leach field’s job is to break down organic materials and purify the wastewater. To learn more about how to maintain your leach field, keep reading!

Signs of a Clogged Leach Field

     It’s never convenient to have a clogged leach field, but early intervention is the key to avoiding major repairs. For this reason, it’s important to know and look for early warning signs, which can occur both inside and outside the home. One of the first things you may notice inside your home is slow or sluggish drains and toilets. Water will only drain if there is room in the tank, but slow drainage may indicate that the tank is emptying slower, often due to a clog in the leach line. If left for too long, however, the water in the tank could begin to back up into your pipes and make its way back into your sinks, showers, and toilets.

     When a leach field is clogged, you are likely to see some changes to your yard as well. When the grass above your leach field grows greener and taller, this could be a sign that nutrients in the wastewater are making their way to the surface rather than filtering slowly through the field. You may also notice puddling, or even collapsed soil if the pressure around the leach field’s clog rises significantly. Whether inside your home or outside, however, an odor or smell of rotten eggs is often the first thing homeowners notice when a clog occurs.

Unclogging Your Leach Field
Take Action Immediately

     When you notice puddling above your leach field or sluggish drainage inside your home, it’s best to take action right away. It can be a hassle to take time from your day to deal with septic issues, but when wastewater overflows, it can cause major plumbing problems, health issues, and even environmental concerns. At the first signs of septic issues, call a professional to inspect your system and decide on the best course of action.

Reduce Water Usage

     When you have a septic system, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your water usage, but if you suspect your leach field is clogged, it’s especially important to reduce your water usage. If not, you may begin to see sewage back up into your home or puddling and foul odors in your yard. While you are waiting for a technician to come to your home, consider significantly reducing the water your family uses.

Shock the System with Bacteria

     Homeowners often reach for harsh chemicals and drain cleaners when a clog occurs, but they could actually do more harm than good when a septic system is in place. They are not always effective at eliminating fats, oils, and greases (or FOG), and they could throw off the natural pH balance of the entire system as well. Instead, shock the system with a natural, bacteria-based product. The bacteria will completely digest the FOG in the tank and the leach field as well.

5 Tips to Maintain Your Leach Field

     Often, homeowners don’t think about their septic systems until they begin to smell foul odors or have difficulty flushing the toilet. Simply put, it’s much easier to maintain your septic tank and leach field than repair them. Follow these simple tips to ensure that your septic system functions properly for years to come.

  • Pump it Regularly – Clogs in the leach line typically occur because sludge or FOG make their way from the septic tank into the outlet pipe. When you notice sludge is within 12 inches of the outlet pipe, or FOG within 3 inches, it’s time to have your tank pumped. This will minimize the chances of FOG clogging the outlet pipe or leach field.
  • Conduct Regular Inspections – A septic technician can find and repair small issues before they become larger problems. Schedule inspections annually to keep your septic system in working order.
  • Protect your Leach Field – A broken leach pipe can be hard to locate and challenging to repair. To avoid this, refrain from driving or parking cars above your leach field, which could not only risk breakage but also compact the soil and prevent water from freely filtering through. Do not plant trees near your leach field, either, as the root systems can grow into your leach fields, rupturing pipes and clogging lines.
  • Be Mindful of what goes into your Septic System – Everything that goes down a drain or toilet in your home will eventually make its way into your septic tank. In the bathroom, some things, like septic safe toilet paper, may break down easily once inside your septic tank, but others, even wet wipes advertised as “flushable” are not safe for septic systems. While you may be tempted to dump grease or oil down the kitchen sink, it’s best to dispose of them in separate containers. Food waste like coffee grounds, eggshells, and nutshells should also be avoided.
  • Clean without Chemicals – Your septic tank and leach field need bacteria to break down waste and function properly. Common household cleaners and other chemicals like paints, polishes, and waxes kill off the bacteria that reside there. Not only will harsh chemicals slow the degradation of waste in your tank, but they can also contaminate your yard and even groundwater once leached into the ground. Instead of using harsh chemicals, focus on natural, bacteria-based cleaning products for your drains and septic systems. Learn more about the products that help clean your leach field here.

Unclogging and Maintaining Your Leach Field

     A healthy and functioning septic system plays a vital role in your day-to-day life, so it’s important to identify when there could be a problem and take action to solve it as soon as possible. Some early warning signs of a clogged leach field include foul odors, slow drainage, and even sewage backing up into sinks and showers inside the home. Outside, you may notice taller, greener grass above your leach field, and puddling or sinking soil as well. When you see any of these, it’s best to call a professional as soon as possible, reduce water usage, and shock the system with a bacteria-based product. Once your leach field is back in working order, take the steps to maintain it, including pumping your septic tank regularly and being mindful of what goes down the drain. When you prioritize septic maintenance, you’ll have a well-functioning system for years to come.