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Determining the Lifespan of Your Septic Tank

A well-functioning septic tank is essential for homeowners, but how long can you expect your septic tank to last? The answer is based on a number of factors, including the construction material, environmental factors, usage, and of course, proper maintenance. Read on to determine the potential lifespan of your septic tank, as well as how you may be able to extend its lifespan well into the future.

How Long Does a Septic Tank Last?

Many different factors go into determining the lifespan of a septic tank, from the tank’s material to the soil and water level. However, most septic specialists say that the average lifespan for a well-maintained system is anywhere from 20 to 40 years.

Factors that Determine a Septic Tank’s Lifespan

Tank Material

One of the major factors in determining how long your septic tank will last is the material it’s made from. The majority of septic tanks today are made of concrete, which typically lasts the longest, but some tanks are made of steel or fiberglass. The average lifespan of each material is:

  • Concrete

It’s not uncommon for a concrete septic tank to last 40 years or more. While you’ll typically pay more for a concrete tank, the investment is well worth it. Though concrete tanks are the most durable, however, it’s still important to have your septic tank inspected periodically to check for cracking or settling.

  • Fiberglass

This lightweight option is almost as durable as concrete, lasting around 30 years when properly maintained. That said, you will probably pay more to install this type of septic tank.

  • Steel

You can expect a steel septic tank to only last from 15 to 20 years at most. That’s because the metal can rust or corrode over time. Steel tanks are rarely installed today, but you may have an existing steel tank on your property. If so, it’s best to have it inspected regularly to avoid costly issues.

Soil Type

The acidity of the soil where your septic tank is installed will play a major part in how long the tank will last. Acidic soil, for example, can cause steel tanks to rust at a faster rate. It can also break down concrete over time. If you are unsure about the acidity of your soil, you may want to have it tested. Septic tanks in acidic soil should be inspected for corrosion regularly.

Water Table

The water table refers to the groundwater levels on your property. When the water table is higher, it slows down the process of wastewater, or effluent, from absorbing into the surrounding soil through the leach field. This could result in more frequent backups and eventually take a toll on the functionality of the septic tank itself.


Consider both how often the septic tank is used, as well as how it’s used. You can expect a septic tank that is only used by one or two people to last a bit longer than one that supports a family of five or six. In addition, how the tank is used will determine its lifespan. If your family uses septic safe toilet paper and avoids flushing wipes, feminine products, or other objects, the tank’s lifespan may be extended.


Extending the Life of Your Septic Tank

Unfortunately, you cannot change the acidity of your soil or the level of your groundwater, and if your septic tank has already been installed, you cannot change its material either. On the other hand, there are several things you can control that could greatly affect the lifespan of your septic tank and entire septic system.

  • Use a Bacteria-Based Product

Consider adding a bacteria-based product to your maintenance routine. Once bacteria is introduced to the tank itself, it goes right to work digesting waste, including fats, oils, and greases (or FOG). This helps to maintain the proper levels of wastewater inside the tank and will reduce the likelihood of clogs or backups in the drain pipe and leach field.

  • Follow Best Practices

Septic systems do not function in the same way as city wastewater systems, and certain guidelines should be followed to keep the system working properly. Flush only wastewater and septic-safe toilet paper, and avoid dumping food scraps, grease, or chemicals down your drains. This will drastically reduce the strain on your septic system and could extend its lifespan well into the future.

  • Perform Regular Inspections

If you want to extend the life of your septic tank, you need to prioritize regular inspections and pumpings. While it’s never enjoyable to learn of cracks or rust in your tank, it’s best to catch these issues early, while it’s still possible to repair the tank, rather than replace it. In addition to regularly scheduled visits from your septic technician, watch for signs like foul odors, pooling water in your yard, or slow drains. If you notice any of these, reach out to your technician.

How Long Will Your Septic Tank Last?

A concrete septic tank could last up to 40 years, but the answer truly rests on several factors. Some, like soil type and groundwater level, may not be in your control. Others, however, are based on how you and your family use the system. To extend the lifespan of your septic tank, be mindful of what you are flushing down your toilets and dumping down your drains. Be sure to schedule regular maintenance, including inspections and pumpings, and consider adding a bacteria-based product to your routine. The bacteria will fully digest waste in the tank and help it function properly for years to come.

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How Much Does It Cost to Clean Your Grease Trap?

Grease Trap

If you own a commercial kitchen or restaurant, you understand the importance of a well-functioning grease trap. In order for your grease trap to function properly, it will need to be cleaned regularly. But how much does it cost, and how often will it need to be pumped? Those answers rely on a variety of factors, but the basics are laid out below.

The Cost of Not Cleaning Your Grease Trap

As a business owner, budget is probably always at the forefront of your mind. While paying to have your grease trap cleaned may not seem like the most worthwhile expense, it’s certainly an important one. When a grease trap is not cleaned properly or frequently, you may end up paying more to have the grease trap fixed.

In addition to repair costs, there are some non-monetary expenses as well. For example, a full grease trap could begin to back up into your commercial kitchen’s drains. This could result in a closure of the kitchen and loss of sales during that time. Guests may also begin to smell foul odors as the gasses from inside the trap make their way into the kitchen and restaurant. For those reasons, it’s important to prioritize grease trap cleaning in your budget. 

How Often Should a Grease Trap be Cleaned?

The answer to this question is determined by the size and location of the grease trap, as well as local government regulations. Indoor grease traps are smaller in size, and they should be cleaned every month. Even those with mechanical skimmers will still need regular cleanings, as solids settle on the bottom of the tank.

Outdoor grease interceptors, on the other hand, are much larger in capacity. It’s standard practice to have your outdoor grease traps cleaned once a quarter. However, city guidelines may require more frequent cleanings. Regardless of these general timelines, if you smell foul odors or experience drain backups in your commercial kitchen, it’s probably best to have your grease trap cleaned.

Factors that Determine Cost

Grease trap cleanings can vary in cost, based on a variety of different factors. The most common factors that impact price include:

  • Size: The size of a grease trap could vary widely, from 50 gallons for a small, indoor interceptor to 1500 gallons for a newer, outdoor interceptor. As size increases, the cost to clean the unit will increase as well.
  • Location: Easily accessed grease traps will incur a lower cleaning cost than those in densely populated or hard-to-reach areas.
  • Time since last cleaning: If a grease trap has been poorly maintained, it will take significantly more time and effort to empty and clean it. Regular maintenance can reduce overall costs and cut down on downtime in your commercial kitchen, as well.
  • Service provider and plan: Costs could vary from service provider to service provider. Consider getting estimates before committing to service. In addition, you may likely pay a reduced fee if you set up service on an ongoing basis, rather than requesting one-time service.

What You Can Expect to Pay

With the previous factors taken into consideration, you can expect to pay between $125-$180 for regularly scheduled monthly cleanings of an indoor grease trap. When it comes to outdoor grease interceptors, prices range from $225 to $315 each time. Keep in mind, however, that outdoor grease traps may only need to be cleaned once every three months.

Tips to Keep Your Grease Trap Working Effectively

While regular cleaning should always be a priority, there are habits you can put in place to ensure your grease trap is working effectively and won’t require additional cleaning or repairs. While grease traps are designed to catch grease before it makes its way into the water system, dumping large amounts of oil down the drain can quickly overload your trap and create clogs in your pipes. Dispose of oils from frying in containers instead.

You may also want to consider adding a bacteria-based product to your grease trap regularly. Once the bacteria are introduced to the interceptor, they get right to work fully digesting the fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) inside. This will help to maintain the levels inside the tank and cut down on emergency cleanings.

The Cost of Cleaning a Grease Trap

While costs vary depending on the size and location of your grease trap, along with the service plan you have, you can expect to pay between $125-$315 each time your grease trap is cleaned. Indoor traps should be cleaned monthly, but outdoor traps, which are much bigger in size, can usually be cleaned once a quarter. To avoid extra cleanings, maintain your trap properly and add a bacteria-based product often. While the cost of cleaning your grease trap can seem steep, the cost of not cleaning your grease trap can be much greater.

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What Size Grease Trap Does Your Commercial Kitchen Need?

commercial kitchen

Whether you own a restaurant or commercial kitchen, a grease trap is an essential part of its day-to-day functions. As you prepare food and wash dishes, wastewater makes its way into your drains and plumbing. The grease trap is designed to catch the fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) from the water, keeping it from creating a clog in the line later on. But what size grease trap is right for your business? These guidelines can help you decide.

Why Size Matters

As a business owner, time and money are important considerations in any decision. If you install a grease trap that is too small for your commercial kitchen needs, it could result in frequent overflows and take employees away from their regular duties to clean the mess. You could also find yourself scheduling more frequent pumpings. While erring on the larger side makes sense, choosing a grease trap that is much larger than needed could tighten the budget in other areas.

How to Determine the Right Size Grease Trap

You may be able to find a sizing calculator online, but this is the basic formula for determining the size and capacity of your grease trap.

  1. Calculate the capacity of your sink by multiplying the length, width, and depth, in inches. If you have multiple compartments or sinks, add the capacity of each sink together to find the total cubic inches.
  2. Convert the capacity from cubic inches to gallons per minute (GPM) by dividing that number by 231.
  3. Next, adjust for displacement, which determines the actual useable capacity of your sink, which is usually about 75% of the entire capacity. Multiply your GPM by 0.75 for the GPM Actual Drainage Load.
  4. If local code requires it, you may need to do the same with your dishwashers, adding this GPM Actual Drainage Load to the number you calculated in Step 3.
  5. Determine the flow rate and drainage period. For most commercial kitchens, the drainage period is 1 minute, though it could be 2 minutes in certain applications. Divide the number you calculated in Step 3 (or Step 4 if you’ve included dishwashers) and divide it by the drainage period. This number is the flow rate.
  6. Finally, consult the standard grease trap sizing chart and select the right size grease trap for your unique commercial kitchen. If the flow rate you calculated isn’t listed, round up to the nearest 5.
Photo courtesy of drain-tech.com

Other Factors to Consider

Shared Grease Traps

Many restaurants and commercial kitchens actually share a grease trap with other businesses in the building. This is quite common in shopping centers and malls, for instance. If your business will be on a shared grease trap, it’s likely a plumbing expert will survey the businesses and determine the right size grease trap for you and your neighboring businesses to use.

Local Codes and Regulations

Local governments often set their own codes and guidelines for grease trap sizing, though many follow the Uniform Plumbing Code, or UPC. One big factor that local codes dictate is whether dishwashers should be attached to grease traps or not. When dishwashers are attached, you’ll need a larger grease trap to manage water capacity and reduce the risk of overflowing.

What’s Being Made

Grease traps are installed to catch the fats, oils, and greases that end up in a commercial kitchen’s wastewater. However, the amount of FOG that can make it into the wastewater could vary greatly from business to business. For instance, a sub shop will probably produce less grease than a restaurant serving burgers and fries. If your kitchen will be handling more FOG than average, you may want to consider sizing up on your grease trap.

Keeping Your Grease Trap Working Effectively

No matter what size grease trap you install, it will need to be maintained and pumped on a regular basis. If you’re interested in extending the time between pumpings, however, you may want to consider adding a bacteria-based product to your grease trap regularly. Once bacteria are added to the tank, they get to work completely digesting the FOG inside.

BioOne offers an effective bacteria-based liquid product that is safe for use in restaurants and commercial kitchens. You can also purchase a programmable auto-injection system that meters the correct amount of liquid to keep the lines flowing. This allows you to focus on running your business, not pumping your grease trap.

Sizing the Grease Trap for Your Commercial Kitchen

While it’s important to install the right grease trap for your commercial kitchen or restaurant needs, determining the right size can be challenging. Use the formula listed above or use an online calculator to learn the recommended size for your business. Then consider other factors, like whether you’ll be sharing the grease trap with other businesses or if you plan to use more fats, oils, and greases in your cooking. It’s important to consult and follow local codes as well. Once your grease trap is installed, add a bacteria-based product regularly to ensure it runs effectively for years to come.

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The Importance of Proper Ventilation in a Septic System

septic tank

When you think of a septic system, you probably think of your septic tank and maybe even your leach field. There’s one more part of your septic system, however, that should not be overlooked. Your septic tank vent performs an important role in the process. Learn what it does, what it looks like, and how to tell if it’s working properly in your home.

What Does a Septic Tank Vent Do?

When empty, a septic tank is filled mostly with air. Once the septic system is up and running, however, the tank will quickly begin to fill with wastewater and solids, like fats, oils, and greases. As the water level in the tank rises, the air inside becomes pressurized and needs somewhere to go. A septic tank vent provides the pressurized air and gas inside the septic tank with a safe way to exit the tank.

Types of Ventilation

Some pressurized air may escape through the outlet pipes in the tank, those that take the broken-down wastewater, or effluent, out of the tank and into the drain field. However, it’s best not to rely on outlet pipes alone to vent your septic system, as their primary job is to drain wastewater, not air, from the tank.

In addition to the outlet pipe, a septic tank will need another ventilation source. The most common types of septic vents are:

Roof vents

These are the most common septic vent today. Roof vents are installed on the roof of your home and look like small, capped chimney vents. They are extremely effective at venting large amounts of gas quickly.

Yard Vents

These vents are made of PVC and installed in the yard, usually near the leach field. The PVC is often hooked at the end, like a cane, to allow the air to flow out, but not onto anyone that is walking by. Yard vents are not as effective as roof vents, but together, roof vents and yard vents can easily help maintain the pressurized balance inside the tank.

Importance of Proper Ventilation

The waste inside your tank produces gasses like methane and carbon dioxide that mix with the air. This increases the pressure inside the tank and could prevent the waste inside from flowing out. In addition, if the gasses, particularly methane, start to build up, it can become not just a health hazard, but explosive and dangerous, as well.

Signs of a Faulty Septic Vent

Foul Odors

This one is easy to notice but not fun to deal with. If you begin to smell foul odors inside your home, particularly near drains and toilets, it could be an indication that the air and gasses inside your septic tank are not venting properly.

Slow Drains

Is your shower or sink suddenly draining slowly? It could be a sign that the waste inside your tank isn’t draining properly, but it could also be the result of too much gas inside the tank.

Water Backup

This is both common and unpleasant. When wastewater begins to back up into your drains, it could be due to a faulty septic vent. Unfortunately, the water backing up into your sinks is most likely contaminated with bacteria, so it’s a good idea to take care of the problem quickly.

Visual Signs

It’s a good idea to inspect the area around your septic vents periodically. If you notice the pipes are damaged or full of debris, it’s likely that the vent isn’t functioning properly, as well.

Whatever the sign, faulty septic vents can be a serious problem. As gasses continue to build inside the tank, it could lead to damage inside, as well as pose significant health risks for your family. If you suspect that your septic vent isn’t working properly, consider calling a plumber or septic expert to quickly fix the problem.


Consider increasing the vent pipe’s height

If your septic vents are working properly but you still find yourself smelling foul odors at your backyard barbecue, you may want to consider increasing the height of your roof vent pipe. Though it may not be as aesthetically pleasing, when the top of the vent pipe is higher, the gasses and odors may stay in the natural air stream above your home and not make their way back down to ground level. Though local municipalities likely have specific guidelines to follow when it comes to roof vents, the recommended height is one to two feet above the roofline.

Prune Trees and Shrubbery

Whether you have a roof vent or a yard vent, it’s important to make sure that either is free of debris and can vent gasses properly without obstructions. Consider pruning trees that may hang over your roofline and avoid planting shrubbery too close to your yard vents. This should help them function well all year round.

Use a Bacteria Based Product

The balance of waste and gasses inside the tank is a delicate one. While this article has focused mostly on venting gasses, it’s just as important to make sure that the waste inside your tank is properly draining. This allows gasses more room to move and safely vent, as well. Consider adding a bacteria-based product to your septic tank regularly. Once the bacteria are introduced to your tank, they get to work immediately, fully digesting the waste inside, along with fats, oils, and greases. This will help maintain the natural balance in the tank and keep it functioning at peak performance.

Your septic tank vent performs an important task by releasing pressurized air and gasses from inside your septic tank. Whether you have vents on your roofline or your yard, it’s important to ensure they’re functioning properly. If you notice odors or backups coming from your septic tank, call a plumber or septic expert to look into it. In the meantime, keep the area around your septic vent free of debris, and consider using a bacteria-based product to maintain the balance of wastewater, gasses, and air inside the tank.

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How to Determine What Size Septic Tank You’ll Need

septic tank

If you are planning to install a new septic system in your yard, you may be wondering what size tank you should purchase. Selecting the right size septic tank for your property is essential for avoiding frequent pumpings, costly repairs, and wastewater backups. While there are some basic guidelines to consider, the decision should ultimately be based on a variety of factors, including water usage, the size of your home, and government regulations.

Why Tank Size is Important

When it comes to septic tanks, size does matter. Typically, the biggest concern is with a septic tank that is too small for the household’s usage. When a tank is too small, it will fill up much quicker, requiring more frequent pumpings to maintain appropriate levels. In this scenario, the bacteria inside the tank won’t have enough time to break down the wastewater inside, including fats, oils, and greases (or FOG). If the solid waste makes it to the outflow pipe and eventually the drain field, it could create a clog or cause damage to the system. In addition, as the tank quickly fills with wastewater, some of it could begin to back up into your home’s drains and toilets.

Many homeowners decide to solve this problem by purchasing a much larger tank. While it’s certainly better to have a little more room in the tank, installing a tank that is too large could result in issues as well. Without enough wastewater cycling through the tank, the liquid inside the tank, or effluent, may not empty properly into the drain field. In addition, there may also not be enough bacteria produced inside the tank to break down the solid waste.

Basic Guidelines

You should consider a variety of factors to determine the right size tank for your home, and it’s important to have a consultation with a septic specialist before making any purchasing decisions. However, there are some industry standards to get you started:

  • 750 gallon tank—1-2 bedroom home, less than 1,500 sq. ft.
  • 1,000 gallon tank—3 bedroom home, less than 2,500 sq. ft.
  • 1,250 gallon tank—4 bedroom home, less than 3,500 sq. ft.

Factors that Determine the Right Size Tank for Your Home

Water Usage

While each of the following factors is important to consider, the most effective way to determine the size of your septic tank is to calculate the amount of water your household uses. That’s because there is a maximum capacity inside the tank before the wastewater can make its way to the leach field. If your family tends to produce more wastewater than average, it may make sense to install a slightly larger tank than guidelines suggest.

Property Size

Some homeowners installing septic tanks may be limited by the size of their property. Consider where you’ll be placing your tank and leach field. Keep in mind that local government regulations may dictate a specific distance between your septic system and your property line. While you should certainly still install a septic tank that will hold the proper volume for your household’s water usage, you may not have room for a substantially larger tank.

Number of Bedrooms and Occupants

According to the United States Geological Survey, the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, and the more people that live in a home, the more wastewater is produced on a daily basis. That’s why the number of bedrooms in your home should be taken into account when selecting your septic system. If the tank is too small to hold the wastewater used by your family, it could begin to back up into your home’s sinks, toilets, and showers.

Government Regulations

Regardless of what size tank you think is best, it’s important to check your local government’s regulations. Each locality sets codes based on things like soil quality and the water table, so even if you’ve installed a septic tank in another home recently, the guidelines could be different. These regulations will also determine where you can install the tank and leach field on your property. Failing to follow these regulations could result in fines and additional costs to relocate your septic system.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance

Once you’ve selected and installed the right septic tank for your needs, it’s important to set up a regular maintenance schedule. While selecting a smaller tank could require you to pump your tank more frequently, every tank should be pumped periodically, regardless of size. Typically, you can expect to have your septic tank pumped every three to five years.

In addition to scheduling regular pumpings, you may also want to consider adding a bacteria-based product monthly. When the bacteria are introduced to the septic tank, they get to work immediately to completely digest fats, oils, and greases inside the tank. This could not only reduce the frequency of your pumpings, but the likelihood of clogs and damage to your leach field, as well.

Selecting the Right Size Septic Tank for Your Property

Septic tanks are not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, many factors should be considered when determining what size septic tank you need, including the amount of water your household uses, along with the size of your home and property. Be sure to consult local regulations, as well, to ensure that your tank meets government guidelines. Once your septic system is installed, schedule regular pumpings and use a bacteria-based product monthly to keep your system running effectively for years to come.

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Can You Use a Garbage Disposal with a Septic Tank?

Garbage Disposal

If you’re a homeowner with a septic tank, you may be wondering if you can have a garbage disposal as well. While it’s possible to install a garbage disposal in a home with a septic system, it’s not recommended. Why? There are extra costs, maintenance, and possible repairs to your system when garbage disposals are in use. If you choose to use a disposal, follow these tips to minimize problems with your septic system in the future.

Why a Garbage Disposal isn’t the Best Option

Out of sight, out of mind, unless of course, you have a septic system. That’s because everything that is dumped down your drains or flushed down your toilet ends up in your septic tank. Once inside the tank, wastewater solids, or sludge, sink to the bottom. Then bacteria gets to work breaking down the organic matter inside.

When you install a garbage disposal in your sink, you end up disposing of significantly more food waste into your septic tank. While the disposal does break down the size of the food first, the bacteria inside the tank must still work to digest it. If the tank becomes overloaded with food waste, the sludge level rises. Not only does this decrease the capacity of your tank, it could also cause solid material to make its way to the outlet pipe, where it could clog the drain pipes.

Anyone that owns a septic tank can expect to have it pumped every three to five years, but when a garbage disposal is in use, you’ll likely need to pump your tank more frequently to avoid damage to your system. In fact, you can expect to have your septic tank pumped twice as much as homes that are not using a garbage disposal.

Helpful Tips for Using a Garbage Disposal with a Septic System

Sometimes, homeowners find the convenience of a garbage disposal outweighs the downsides. If you ultimately decide to install a garbage disposal, there are some things you can do to help your entire septic system run more smoothly.

Limit What Goes Down the Drain

Not all foods and waste should make their way into your septic tank. When considering which food and waste to dispose of in your sink, stick to soft foods and non-dairy liquids that can be more easily broken down inside the tank, like the flesh of soft fruits and vegetables, ice cubes, and biodegradable dish soaps.

Avoid fruit pits, tough skinned vegetables, and onion skins. Eggshells, nuts, meat, and bones are difficult for the bacteria in your tank to digest, as well. Surprisingly, soft foods like rice, pasta, and oats should also be avoided, because they can expand in water and lead to clogged pipes. Non-organic items like paper towels should never make their way into a septic system either.

Consider using a simple sink strainer that sits down in the sink. These strainers are extremely inexpensive and easy to clean out. This will prevent most foods and wastes of a larger size from making it down the drain. 

Use Cold Water

Food waste is more likely to clog your drain or pipes when warm water is used. Instead, flush your drain pipes with cool water before you turn on your garbage disposal. Then continue to run cold water down the drain until all food waste has passed through the disposal.

Keep Up with Routine Maintenance

This is critical for all septic systems, but especially if you also use a garbage disposal. Be sure to have your tank inspected regularly, and schedule more frequent pumpings to ensure the sludge level in your tank doesn’t rise to unsafe levels. You may also want to consider adding a monthly bacteria-based product. The addition of healthy bacteria will speed up the breakdown of sludge and waste, which will help your septic tank run more efficiently and may reduce the frequency of septic tank pumping as well.

Garbage Disposal Alternatives

Whether you are looking to reduce your garbage disposal use or you have opted not to use one at all, you may be looking at convenient alternatives. First, consider adding a drain strainer to your sink. This is the best way to collect food particles before they make their way down the drain and eventually into your septic tank. As noted above, these can be used with or without a garbage disposal.

You can certainly slip your food waste into the regular trash can, but you may also want to consider composting it. This environmentally friendly option turns fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, and other food waste into nutrient rich composting soil for your lawn or garden. You can purchase a composting bin for your yard, or for ultimate convenience, you can choose a countertop composter that stays in your kitchen.

Considering a Garbage Disposal with Your Septic Tank?

While it’s possible to use a garbage disposal if you have a septic tank, most homeowners choose not to do so. Why? Because more food waste in the septic tank can lead to more problems with the septic system. Instead of dumping food waste down the drain, consider composting it. However, if you do choose to install a garbage disposal, stick to soft fruits and vegetables without peels, flush your drains with cold water, and perform regular maintenance. Consider using a bacteria-based product, as well, to help the waste inside the tank break down more quickly. These tips will help keep your septic system functioning properly for years to come.

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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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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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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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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.