Septic System Health, Part 1

We have dealt with a couple of recurring septic system operational issues over the years. Both of these issues, unfortunately, are signs that a septic system is not healthy and on the path to failure.

The first issue sounds something like this ….

Our septic tank is always full. We are pumping it every month but it does not seem to be helping. We can’t do laundry or take back to back showers. The sinks and tubs take forever to drain.

This is a classic sign of drainfield failure caused by anaerobic bacterial activity in the septic tank. Eventually, all anaerobic systems fail in a manner similar to what is described above. Anaerobic bacteria simply do not process enough organic waste in the septic tank and allow too much to pass to the drainfield. Over the years, the drainfield becomes plugged and cannot pass water back to the water table. The septic tank, as a result, appears to always be full.

The best and most cost effective way to remedy this situation and reclaim use of the septic system is to convert the system to an aerobic environment while immediately implementing septic system maintenance best practices. It takes a little time, but the aerobic bacteria will eventually consume the organic matter in the drainfield, returning it to a permeable state. The best practices will make sure the bacteria are not killed off or overwhelmed by hydraulic overloading.

The second issue sounds something like this ….

Our backyard has a rotten egg smell. It is so bad that we cannot sit outside and enjoy our yard. The smell is disgusting and embarrassing. We can’t have people over. What can we do? We have tried chemicals, but it doesn’t seem to help.

Again, this problem is the result of an anaerobic bacterial septic system environment. The rotten egg smell is the result of one of the many chemical reactions taking place in within the anaerobic bacterial respiration process.  If  a concrete septic tank is involved, it also is indicative that there might be corrosive acid damaging the structure of the tank.

The only way to eliminate the smell is to convert the system to an aerobic bacterial environment. Aerobic bacterial respiration does not utilize the chemical reactions that produce the rotten egg smell or the gases that eventually cause corrosion.

The corrective actions for both issues are the same.  Converting a septic system to an aerobic environment and implement septic system best practices and will  keep the septic system healthy and functioning for a long service life!

Read “Septic System Health, Part 2

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