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Septic Tank Maintenance Secrets

When you buy a car, you are given an owner’s manual with instructions on how to care for your car. Septic tanks can cost as much or more than a car, unfortunately nobody gives you a manual when they are installed. Some people don’t even know they have a septic tank! As a result, many septic systems fail unnecessarily.

The Price for Failure is Steep

The price for failure is steep in two way. More than 1200 people in the US die each year from contaminated water, and failing septic systems are a leading source of waterborne disease outbreaks in the country today. In a 2000 EPA report, 31 states listed septic systems as their second greatest potential source of groundwater contamination. Septic system replacement is also very expensive, with costs often running from $5,000 to $20,000 or more. Fortunately, there are some highly effective, ineffective steps you can take to eliminate this problem. Before discussing solutions, let’s look at why septic systems fail.

Septic tank maintenance is actually pretty easy to understand. When a system fails, the tank itself doesn’t fail- the drainfield soil fails. In most cases the soil fails when it gets plugged up with solids and won’t allow liquid to pass through it. For example, it can get plugged with solids from the tank if the tank hasn’t been pumped, or with lint from a washing machine. Now for your solutions:

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1. Use a washing machine filter.

Did you know that washing machines are a leading cause of septic system failure? The primary culprit is lint generated by washing machines, which clogs the soil in drain fields. Did you know that a typical family washing machine produces enough lint each year to carpet and entire living room floor! Lint screens and nylon traps found in hardware stores trap 5% or less of these particles. Because they are so light and small, the lint particles do not settle out in the septic tank. Instead, they stay in suspension and are flushed out to the drain field, where they plug up the pores of the soil bed.

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