When was the last time you had your Septic Tank pumped out?
Do you know if your septic system is working properly?
If you can’t answer these questions, then you may be ignoring one of the most important and expensive parts of your cottage and may be hurting our lake as well.
A septic system takes waste water from your sink, toilet and other fixtures, treats the waste and releases harmlessly into the groundwater. A properly operating system can operate for the life of the home that it is serving.
The most important maintenance operation is removal of solids from the septic tank. A typical septic system consists of a tank and a leaching bed. Waste enters the tank and the solids settle out, liquids overflow into the leaching bed and are treated in the soil. If the tank is not pumped out then solids can enter the leaching bed and cause plugging and ultimately failure of the entire system.
An improperly operating system does not treat the waste and can cause algae blooms or release e-coli bacteria to our lake or your water well. In addition to the environmental impacts, ignoring your system can cost you as well. Replacing a leaching bed is a costly and disruptive process current standards may require a significantly larger area or the importing a lot of sand; you may loose existing trees and gardens to the process.
This truly is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Pumping frequencies will vary based on the number of people using the system and the size of the tank. A good rule of thumb is for a seasonal residence is to pump your septic system is out every 3 to 5 years. If you are living on the lake year round you will need to pump more often. Please maintain your septic system!
More on Septic Systems
A substantial percentage of septic systems ranging up to 50%, on close examination, are considered defective, at least to some degree. These defects range the whole gamut from simply too many elbows on the supply side; baffle problems; up to cracked and leaking septic tanks; contaminated tile beds; and so on.
Apparently there are four types of septic system tests ranging from a minimal ‘drive by’ test looking for odours and wet spots; up to a detailled visual inspection of open tanks occurring when the tank is pumped, with a substantial quantity of water being added, both before and after pumping, to confirm that water flows and levels behave as expected.
Dishwasher and laundry soap/detergent containing chlorine and dishwater anti-water marking products like Jet Dry affect the bacteria in a septic tank much like a antibiotic medication kills bacteria in our bodies, necessitating a pro-biotic to help restore good bacteria levels necessary to function properly.
A monthly application of some products such as EcoEthic Septic System & Drain Treatment have proven effective at restoring or compensating for the convenience of automatic clothes washing machines and/or dishwashers.
- SepticSmart – 12 page booklet from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- Septic System Overview ( Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
- How a Septic System Works (Do’s and Don’ts, Guide to Operating and other useful information links)
- Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association (OOWA)
OOWA is dedicated to providing access to a large network of Onsite Wastewater Professionals throughout Ontario.