Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Article Share: You can put ANYTHING into a Septic System ... Right?

Often when homeowners are told they have to convert from septic tanks to sewer systems -- especially sewer systems with grinder pumps -- they're quite surprised that they suddenly have a list of items they can't flush/pour down the drain.

"I never had these rules with my septic tank!" they say.

Or did they?

The January issue of Pumper magazine contained a great piece by Jim Anderson, Ph.D., 6 Tips Your Customers will Appreciate. The recommendations, for the most part, are the same for sewer systems. A few are items are even more restrictive than they are for sewer systems.

Here are the six tips summarized, but go to the article for the full context:
  1. The toilet is not another wastebasket -- Mostly agreed. We've heard from many service techs about the crazy things that end up in the grinder pump as well. Household wastewater and toilet paper are all that belong. There is one point where we disagree with the author: "... the toilet is used as a handy wastebasket to flush away a number of items. This may work where homes are serviced by the 'big pipe' ..." NO!!! Ask any treatment plant operator how he feels about baby wipes and "flush and forget," and we bet he'll agree with us.
  2. Space out laundry loads -- This one is interesting and really applies only to septic tanks. Whether or not your sewer system involves a grinder pump, you don't have to worry about timing out your laundry chore.
  3. Avoid the garbage disposal -- Again, this one applies to septic tanks. You can have a garbage disposal with your grinder pump, but pay attention to what you're putting through the disposal. Did you know that you're not supposed to put meat and bones through the disposal? And that you're supposed to run the water for about 5 minutes to ensure your kitchen drain is clear?
  4. Dispose of medicines properly -- Agreed, and you're not supposed to throw them in the garbage, either, according to the EPA. Your town probably has a drug take-back day once or twice a year, or your pharmacy may take and dispose them.
  5. Say no to solvents -- Strong chemicals don't belong in any system.
  6. Give new systems a fresh start -- If you're buying at a home that has a grinder pump, find out everything you can about the system: age (if it's in an existing home), manufacturer, warranty (in a new or existing home), who is responsible for maintenance (you or the town), who is the local service provider (the town or a local company).
The bottom line is, whether you have a sewer system or a septic tank, be kind to your system.