Things the homeowner should know.
What you should know in order to identify and maintain your sewage system.
Your onsite sewage disposal system can provide trouble free service for many years if maintained properly.
ON-SITE SEWAGE DISPOSAL SYSTEMS INFORMATION
On-site waste water disposal systems such as septic systems or cesspools provide for the treatment and disposal of household waste water. Cesspools and septic systems have been known, with PROPER MAINTENANCE, to perform efficiently for many years.
Your on-site disposal system is just as important to you as your furnace. A new system of any type or repairs to the old one are very costly. Cost variation is due to the type of failure, proper maintenance is considerable less expensive.
A septic system has two major components: a septic tank and a leaching field. In the septic tank the lighter solids and grease (scum) in the wastewater float at the top and are captured and heavier solids (sludge) settle to the bottom. The effluent from the septic tank is distributed through the leaching field where it is treated by the biological organism present as it percolates into the soil. In a cesspool the walls of the pit are porous and serve the same function as a leaching field.
INDICATIONS OF A FAILING SYSTEM·
- Mushy soil or stranding water above or near the septic tank, cesspool or leaching field. ·
- Foul odor from leaching area,nearby streams, ect.
- Any backup of sinks, toilets, or floor drains not caused by blockage of internal pipes within the house.
- Slow flushing toilets.
- Especially tall green grass above or near the leaching area, septic tank or cesspool.
The approximate composition of household sewage is 40% toilet, 15% laundry, 30% bathing, 10% kitchen and 5% miscellaneous.
HOW TO LOCATE YOUR SEPTIC TANK OR CESSPOOL
Yearly inspection of your disposal system yourself can cut costs, providing you follow the correct inspection procedure. If help is needed contact your Board of Health. If you don’t know the location of your septic tank:
A.Contact your Board of Health to see if they have a plan on file.
B If your plan is not on file:
a.Look for concrete or metal manhole cover. It is often located in an area of tall green grass, where there is a depression, where the grass does not grow, or where there is a rapid melting of snow.
b.If ground surface inspection is of no help: locate the building sewer (main house drain) in the c.Record the location and give a copy to your local Board of Health.
HOW YOU CAN INSPECT YOUR SEPTIC TANK OR CESSPOOL
1.Remove cover or covers.
2.With a rod or a stick, measure the scum and sludge layers, if they are more than 1/3 the volume of the septic tank or cesspool, it should be pumped out. Care should be taken to insure that sludge is removed from the bottom.
3.Be sure that both the inlet and outlet tees are in place and free of any solids.
4.For assistance on any cesspool or septic tank problem, call your local Board Of Health. Their Health Agent is available to help you.
SOME REASONS WHY YOUR SYSTEM CAN FAIL (AND POSSIBLE REMEDIES)
POOR LOCATION for your leaching area. Soil is not previous enough, the watertable is high or there is inadequate percolation of liquids through the soil. (Conserve water)
EXCESSIVE SOLIDS and grease in the cesspool, or if there is a septic tank, there could be an overflow of solids into the leaching area (pump the tank out more frequently)
POOR INSTALLATION: Drain pipes and distribution pipes not properly graded, or septic tank is not level. (Rebuild system)
DESIGNED too small for the present loading. (add additional leaching field area)
DRAIN PIPES may become clogged with solids, or roots may grow into the leaching area. (Use root killer, pump tank out more frequently)
GREASE CARRYOVER: Some septic tank additives cause grease to be carried over into the leaching field where it can clog the pores. (do not use septic systems additives.)
REASONABLE STEPS TO TAKE TO PREVENT SYSTEM FAILURES
DO NOT use garbage disposals, as they are a leading factor of clogged systems.
DO NOT put solids or sanitary napkins, paper towels, grease, hair, oil (including cooking oil), colored toilet paper, tissues, or coffee grounds down the drain.
INSPECT on-site systems annually. Do not wait until you have a problem.
PUMP OUT your septic tank or cesspool approximintly every year.
CONSERVE WATER: excess water can create problems, install water saving devices wherever possible.
DO NOT put additives into your system. Medicines, paint, paint thinner, disinfectants, pesticides and acids will only kill the bacteria which are needed to decompose the organic matter.
DO NOT plant shrubs or trees with deep roots near your leaching area.
DO NOT allow heavy equipment to drive over the leaching area.
AVOID extreme peak flows by spacing out laundry loads, bathing and dish washing.
The only way to maintaine your cesspool is to pump out annually.
This information has been prepared and distributed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering. Portions have been reprinted from the Old Colony Planning Council.