septic system design mi

How does Covid-19 plug a septic system?

Welcome to our blog on septic system care and maintenance.  Our current series discusses the impact of Coronavirus and Shelter-in-Place orders on septic systems.  Increased water use at home is creating more stress on the systems and leading to failures in many cases.  This segment explains how systems become plugged because of higher water use.

Most septic systems have two primary components, the septic tank and the disposal area.  The tank’s main job is to protect the disposal area, which is more expensive, does the most work, and is much more prone to failure.  The tank protects the disposal area by retaining solid materials, or particulates.  It works mostly by slowing down the water flow.  When water is not moving quickly, dense materials sink to form sludge, and lightweight materials float to form scum.  As separation occurs in the tank, a middle, sediment free layer of liquid forms.  An outlet device in the tanks lets only that sediment free layer pass through to the disposal area.

The most common disposal areas are drainfields, drywells, and chamber systems.  They depend on small holes in piping and porosity of the soil for final treatment and disposal of the sewage liquid (effluent).  However, sludge and scum from the tank (the material that sinks and floats) can plug the piping and soil pores.  When that happens, the disposal area loses efficiency and it can fail.

With Shelter-in-Place, people use much more water at home than normal.  That means much more water is flowing through the septic tanks.  The higher flow rates prevents settling of the sludge and scum.  Instead, they move to the disposal area and restrict the natural drainage.  An effluent filter can be installed in the septic tank to minimize the amount of particulates passing through.  However, the filter will need cleaning as it becomes plugged.  And the more water used, the faster it plugs.  Use of chemical, enzyme, and bacterial additives to the septic tank are not a viable solution, as will be discussed in a future blog.  The best all around approach to protect the system is general water conservation to reduce flow through the tank.  See our previous blog for proven methods to reduce water use and protect the septic system.

Thank you for reading, and stay healthy!

Enviro-Assist, Ltd of South Lyon, Michigan provides:

Septic System Inspections
Septic System Engineering
Septic System Troubleshooting & Consultation
Well Inspections
Drinking Water Sampling
Water Supply Consultation
Educational Seminars
Call Enviro-Assist Today: (248) 486-1753

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Why Inspect a Septic System?

Why inspect a septic system?

A septic system can be working poorly but still be working. The primary reasons to inspect a septic system are to determine how well a system is working and to assess any special care or maintenance that may be needed to prevent failure. Most often, inspections are made when purchasing a home, when adding residents to a home, or because failures have occurred.

A commonly misunderstood fact is that septic systems go through a slow progression to the stage of failure. It is not simply a matter of working one day and not the next. Rather, the system loses efficiency more and more as it is used. Failure occurs when the system is no longer efficient enough to process the amount of sewage going it. At that point, sewage backs up into the house, pools on the ground, or runs into a lake or stream. Obviously, those septic system failures are quite unpleasant. They smell, they cause illness, and they can be very expensive to repair.

The extent of an inspection may vary depending on the purpose of the evaluation. In any case, the inspector should verify the type of final disposal, including size, materials, condition of materials, impacts on the system, and potential flow rates. After all, what works for a family of three may not work for a family of six.

Enviro-Assist, Ltd of South Lyon, Michigan provides:

  • Septic System Inspections
  • Well Inspections
  • Septic System Engineering
  • Septic System Troubleshooting & Consultation
  • Drinking Water Sampling
  • Water Supply Consultation
  • Educational Seminars
  • Sewer District Planning/Septic Surveys

Call Enviro-Assist Today: (248) 486-1753

Read More →

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