Contrary to popular belief, most septic systems can last a lifetime. The most common cause of septic failure is the inability of the leach field to accept and percolate effluent liquid into the ground. Older septic systems and those with heavy use are more prone to this situation.
Septic System Components
Septic Tank - designed to allow time for the incoming liquid to settle surface and bottom solids (scum and sludge). The size of tank required is determined by the number of bodies who will be using the system.
Header Pipe - a solid piece of pipe carries effluent from the septic tank outlet to the perforated tile lines buried in your yard.
Perforated Tile Lines - these pipes have holes in them and allow the effluent to "weep" out or percolate into the surrounding soil, sand, and gravel. From there effluent continues to soak into the natural environment.
Prevention is the key
While many people are lax on preventative maintenance for their septic system, it is one of the keys to a long-lived and non-polluting septic system. A septic system functions on the principal of digestion of organic materials by microbes. The concept of adding microbes (bio-augmentation) is to enhance system performance by assisting the indigenous microorganisms from our gut, in a combined capacity to breakdown and remove a greater range of organic matter at a much faster rate.
What happens in the tile bed over time? With the exception of a physical issue such as a broken pipe or uneven liquid distribution, the cause of tile bed slow down or failure is due to bio-mat build-up under the tile lines. Small pieces of solids (TSS) migrate out of the septic tank and are deposited in the soil, sand and gravel surrounding the tile lines. This bio-mat increases in thickness and width over time and causes a reduction in percolation capacity of the tile bed. The bio-mat material is extremely rich in nutrients (nitrogen & phosphate) - the kind we do not want in our lakes! Eventually the tile bed will start to back up, "breakout" and fail, a replacement bed may be required. In most cases, the tile bed can be remediated instead of being replaced.
Septic systems age in several ways. Tanks can lose their structural integrity over time, particularly if they are not well maintained. A corrosive gas (hydrogen sulfide / H2S), is created by native microbes in septic tanks and can degrade concrete, in particular the concrete baffle. The baffle's function is to prevent floating material from exiting the tank and migrating into the leach bed. The negative effects of this gas (H2S), is lessened with regular system maintenance (regular pump outs) as well as with the addition of non-sulfide producing microbes to your system in the form of EcoEthic Septic System Treatment or EcoEthicPRO HC.
How to get slow leach fields back to full percolation. In most cases this is quite easy to accomplish. Ideally, the septic tank pump-out followed by the addition of a specialized microbial mixture (EcoEthicPRO Bioremediation Kit) applied directly to the septic tank outlet. The kit contains the necessary biological ingredients (microbial consortium, nutrient mix and slow release oxygen compound) to digest the bio-mat in the soil. This process of adding microbes directly to the tile lines converts the built up bio-mat into water, Co2, more microbes and mineral ash, thus restoring the percolation capacity of the leaching bed. Time for restoration varies, but typically takes two to three weeks. Some systems may require a "flushing job" if the bed condition has degraded to the point where lateral lines are totally plugged.
B.S.M.P.s Best Septic Management Practices play a critical role in system function and should be followed. A great resources is the educational video "Poop Talk, lt's All About The Water", produced for the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners' Association (CHA), for their Lake Protector Series contains many of the septic BSMPS. Video Link is found at: www.ecoethic.ca/products_sp.html
If you have any questions please drop us an email or give us a call at: 1-888-436-3996