Brownie’s provides regular maintenance schedules for pumping and cleaning your grease traps. We can use our high pressure water jetting and TV camera inspection to thoroughly clean your entire grease trap. When cleaning a grease trap we make sure all harmful grease particles are removed. We check the inlet and outlet baffles to ensure there is no grease build up that would hinder the water from entering or exiting the tank. We are careful to leave the facility as clean as it was when we arrived. Brownie’s provides 24 hour emergency service when those unexpected problems arise.
Jetting & Drain Cleaning
Brownie’s offers a wide range of sewer and drain cleaning services. Our cutting edge equipment provides the best possible service in resolving virtually any backup or clog. C&D is top’s when it comes to drain cleaning, whether it is your home or business. Our services include, but not limited to sewer lines, sanitary lines, sink lines, tub drains, toilets, laundry lines, and storm drain lines. Preventative maintenance is the key to preventing backups and clogs.
Signs of a Failing Septic System
What defines a failed septic system? Most homeowners define a failed septic system as one that either periodically or continually backs-up into the house or overflows onto the ground in their yard. In short, the system is a continual or occasional nuisance. If neither of these events occur, most homeowners assume they have a good septic system. Although a system may be functional for the occupants, it may or may not meet the legal definition of a functioning septic system. Statistically, about one out of every three systems is in a technical state of failure. Although that may not sound too optimistic, it is a fact.
What is the Average Life Span of a Septic System?
The average life span of a typical trench type drain field is about 20-25 years. Bed type drain fields and mound systems typically don’t last quite as long as trench systems. There are systems which defy these statistics and fail much sooner or last much longer. Systems which last much longer typically were installed in good sandy, gravelly soils, were used moderately (small family), and were maintained (septic tank pumped at least every 2 years). Systems which failed "prematurely" were typically installed in poorer soils (silts & clays), used more heavily (larger family), and/or were not maintained.
What Causes Drain fields to Fail?
BIOMAT - It is important to bear in mind that virtually all septic systems will fail. The normal cause of failure is due to the buildup of a thick, pasty, black sludge, called a biomat. The biomat is a biological growth that develops in the drain field. The microbes in the drain field consume the soluble organic material in the wastewater that comes from the septic tank and convert it to cell mass, the same way we convert food energy into fat and muscle. Over time this mass of bacteria builds up and plugs the interface between the drain rock in the field and the surrounding soil, preventing wastewater from percolating into the ground. The result: a drain field that fills with water and backs-up into the house and/or overflows onto the ground.
In addition, to old age, there are a number of reasons why systems fail. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
•Undersized System: The design of a septic system is based upon a very limited amount of field testing. It is possible that the actual soils on which your system was installed are not as porous as the perc test indicated. Consequently the drain field was sized too small.
•Poor Construction Practices: If the contractor drove equipment over the surface of the drain field (particularly with wet silty/clayey soils), or installed silty (unclean) drain rock, the performance of the drain field may have been significantly compromised.
•You may have groundwater problems that were not identified during the design of your septic system. The groundwater monitoring done by the health department may not have accurately identified the seasonal high groundwater table on your property. It is possible that during spring break-up and significant rainfall events that the groundwater rises to such an extent that the hydraulics of your septic system are significantly diminished.
•If the septic tank was not pumped frequently enough, or not at all, it is likely that the solids collected in the septic tank to such an extent that some of them began to wash through the tank and into the drain field. In some cases it is possible to jet out the "muck" from the drain field and retest it successfully.
•Do you have any additional sources of water that may be hydraulically overloading the drain field? Look for the following:
1. Do you have leaking toilets (typically the "flapper" in the tank) or other fixtures?
2. Is there a sump pump hooked up to the septic system?
3. Do you have a water softener that is backwashing excessively?
4. Did you just drain your 1000 gallon hot tub into the septic system?
If any of these conditions exist, they may be causing your septic system to be hydraulically overloaded.
In some cases, if these sources of water are eliminated, and the system given several days to recover, it may be possible to retest the system successfully.
•Excessive usage by residents: The average water use for a family is typically 200-250 gallons per day. If your family has been indiscriminate about water usage, this may have hastened the failure of the drain field.
•Did you use biological additives in your septic system? The EPA discourages the use of septic system additives (enzymes (Ridex), yeasts, etc). There is no data proving that they do anything to enhance the performance of the system. In fact there is evidence that some additives contribute to drain field failure.
How Septic Systems Work
Septic systems provide a natural method of treatment and disposal of household wastes for those homeowners who are not part of a municipal sewage system. They are designed to treat wastewater for a specific site. Proper treatment of wastewater reduces health risks as it is unhealthy for humans, pets, and wildlife to drink or come in contact with surface or ground water contaminated with wastewater. Inadequate treatment of wastewater allows bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing pathogens to enter groundwater and surface water. Hepatitis, dysentery, and other diseases may result from bacteria and viruses in drinking water. Disease-causing organisms may make lakes or streams unsafe for recreation. Flies and mosquitoes that are attracted to and breed in wet areas where wastewater reaches the surface may also spread disease.
Many cleaning products and chemicals used in the household can be toxic to humans, pets, and wildlife. If allowed to enter a failing septic system, these products may reach groundwater, nearby surface water, or the ground surface. In the soil treatment portion of the system (drain field or mound), bacteria and viruses in the sewage are destroyed by the soil and naturally-occurring microscopic organisms. Nutrients are absorbed by soil particles or taken up by plants. However, these processes only work in soil that has air in it. The soil cannot be saturated with water. Near lakes, streams, and wetlands soil conditions may be saturated. When the soil is saturated, biological breakdown will be incomplete and nutrients will move much greater distances, sometimes hundreds of feet from the drain field or mound, and possibly into surface water. Even systems that appear to be working well or that are in compliance with local design and installation codes may allow nutrients or bacteria to reach the ground or surface water.
The septic tank is the first step of the wastewater treatment process. The septic tank is a solid tank designed specifically to accept all wastewater from the home. Some installations may have two tanks in a row or one large tank with two compartments. Several tank designs are available but all tanks should have inlet and outlet baffles, inspection pipes, and a manhole for cleaning.
A septic system works by allowing waste water to separate into layers and begin the process of decomposition while being contained within the septic tank. Bacteria, which are naturally present in all septic systems, begin to digest the solids that have settled to the bottom of the tank, transforming up to 50 percent of these solids into liquids and gases. When liquids within the tank rise to the level of the outflow pipe, they enter the drainage system. This outflow, or effluent, is then distributed throughout the drain field through a series of subsurface pipes. Final treatment of the effluent occurs here as the soil absorbs and filters the liquid and microbes break down the rest of the waste into harmless material.
Septic systems cannot dispose of all the material that enters the system. Solids that are not broken down by bacteria begin to accumulate in the septic tank and eventually need to be removed. When the holding tank is not pumped out frequently enough, the solids can enter the pipes leading to and from the tank. This can cause sewage to back up into the house or cause the drain field to fail as the pipes and soil become congested. These problems are often costly to fix, pose a danger to public health, and are a significant source of water pollution. Seepage from inadequate or failing septic systems can contaminate both ground and surface waters. Malfunctioning septic systems are currently a leading cause of groundwater pollution.
All septic tanks should be checked on an annual basis to ensure they are working properly. Baffles, specially designed pipes which allow the sewage into and out of the tank, need to be checked to ensure they are not worn or damaged. The level of sludge (the material that accumulates at the bottom of the tank) needs to be measured to determine when the system should be pumped. Homeowners should routinely have their septic tanks pumped out every two years. However, the frequency with which your tank needs to be pumped may vary depending on the size of the tank and number of people in the household.
Use of Additives The use of additives to help maintain the system is generally not necessary. They will not extend the amount of time required between pumping. The most effective method of breaking down the solid matter in the sewage is allowing the naturally present bacteria to digest it.
Other Ways to Prolong the Life of Your System There are many ways to prolong the life of your septic system and lengthen the period between pumpings. Household water use directly controls how quickly waste travels through a conventional system. Wastewater that enters the tank requires time to allow the solids to settle to the bottom. The higher the volume of water that is introduced to the system, the less opportunity the wastewater has to settle in the holding tank and the less opportunity the bacteria have to break down the solids. Therefore, limiting the use of water in the home will go far in prolonging the life of the system.
Watch What Goes Down the Drain Controlling what goes into the water that enters the system is just as important as reducing the amount of water that flows into the system. Never dispose of toxic or hazardous chemicals by dumping them down the drain as they have the potential to contaminate groundwater. Refrain from putting any plastic, cloth, or unnecessary paper products into the sewage system. Avoid using garbage disposals as they accelerate the accumulation of solids in the holding tank. Especially avoid putting any grease or oil in the disposal or drain. These can clog pipes and drain field soil and damage your system.
Soil Treatment All septic systems include the same basic plumbing and septic tank components. Final treatment of wastewater occurs in the soil. Uncompacted, unsaturated, undisturbed soil must surround the soil treatment system. This system may be a series of trenches or a mound. Soil treatment kills disease-causing organisms in the sewage and removes nutrients. There are millions of naturally-occurring beneficial microscopic organisms in every tablespoon of soil. These complete the sewage treatment process.
The beneficial bacteria in the soil need air to live. Therefore, a zone of unsaturated soil must be present below the drain field for complete treatment. In many areas a minimum of three feet of unsaturated soil below the drain field is the recognized standard. Some local units of government have established more strict requirements, such as four feet of separation from saturated soil. The bio mat is a thin layer of fine solids, dead bacteria, and soil bacteria that forms where the sewage meets the soil. This bio mat layer regulates how fast liquid passes out of the trench or bed into the soil so the soil beneath the trench remains unsaturated. Once the wastewater is through the bio mat layer and three feet of unsaturated soil, harmful pathogens have been destroyed. Site conditions and local requirements determine the soil treatment system for each site. If there is three feet of separation from the bottom of the drain field trench to saturated soil, the least expensive distribution and soil treatment system is gravity flow to a simple trench system. If there is not the required separation for a trench, a mound is required. A mound system is an elevated drain field built with clean sand. There are many small variations in design, but all trenches and mounds accomplish the same treatment function.