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717 Ridge Road, Broadalbin, NY 12025
(518) 842-1540  ·

Septic System Care & Maintenance

A septic system is one of the most important assets in a residential investment. Because it is sight-unseen, it often is the most neglected asset. When problems are noticed, it is usually too late.

Septic System replacement is extremely expensive with costs running from $5000-$20,000 or more. Proper maintenance and upkeep is important to maintain the value of your investment. Fortunately there are some inexpensive steps to avoid problems.

What is a Septic System? (also known as an 'on-lot' system)

A sewage system, on the property of the homeowner, treats and disposes of domestic sewage through natural processes. Liquid waste from a treatment tank percolates through the soil, where it is neutralized and broken down further. The homeowner is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the septic system.

Wastewater that carries sewage from a household or business to an on-lot sewage system will eventually re-enter the same groundwater. On-lot systems, when properly designed, operated and maintained, will treat this wastewater so that it may safely be used again.

How Does a Septic System Function?

Sewage, both human waste and water used for bathing and washing, flows to the septic tank. Here, primary treatment of the sewage takes place. The heaviest matter falls to the bottom of the tank forming sludge. Lighter matter, which is called scum, floats on top of the liquid., which is called effluent. Sludge and scum must be pumped out regularly.

Septic tank effluent then flows to a distribution box in gravity flow systems, or to a pump tank in a pressurized system. In both of the systems, the septic tank effluent is then directed to an absorption area constructed of pipes placed within a layer of gravel and percolates through the soil for additional treatment. The soil neutralizes many of the contents of the wastewater and converts the others to different forms.

When Do I Pump It?

Septic systems should be pumped out every three to four years to maintain the system. Solids will continue to build up at the bottom of the tank, so it's imperative that the septic tank be pumped out periodically. Sludge is not biodegradable, if it's not pumped out, it will just accumulate until it overflows where it can cause problems in the absorption field.

Frequency of pumping primarily depends on the amount of wastewater and solids that go through the system each day. Also, it depends on how careful you are about not throwing garbage and excess fats, rinds, and other similar items down the drain. The more solid waste thrown in the system, the quicker the tank will fill up.

Heavy flows of water also tend to make the tank fill up more quickly. That is why it is best not to use a garbage disposal in the system when you have a septic tank, and why water should not be left running indiscriminately in sinks or toilets.

It's NOT a Trash Can

There is an over abundance of bacteria constantly decomposing and treating raw sewage in a septic system. If harmful substances or chemicals get into the system it could cause major problems.

Here is a list of some harmful substances and chemicals:
  • Oils and Greases
  • Gasoline
  • Antifreeze
  • Varnishes, Paints and Solvents
  • Harsh Drain and Toilet Bowl Cleaners
  • Laundry Detergents with High Sudsing Elements
  • Bleach
  • Pesticides
Remember, instead of using caustic toilet bowl cleaners or bleach, try mild detergent or baking soda or one half cup of borax per gallon of water.

NEVER flush bulky or hard to decompose items such as sanitary napkins, diapers, paper towels, cigarette filters, plastics, eggshells, bones, coffee grounds, down the toilet because they can clog the system.

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DeJong Septic & Excavation · 717 Ridge Road, Broadalbin, NY 12025  ·  (518) 842-1540

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