Archive for May, 2010

Broken Outlet Baffle

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Hello Everyone:

Broken Outlet Baffle

Broken/missing outlet baffle

Here is a great shot from one of my customers.  He had a digital camera setup onto a post and was able to get this priceless shot.  You can see the hole leading out the tank.  Now solids float, you can take my word for you, you don’t need to look.

Anyhow, it’s not really rocket science here.  But solids will float right on out this tank and into the septic drainfield, or whatever component happens to be next.

Now this repair was not easy.  The septic tank was 9 feet down under ground.  With a nine foot access riser installed above the tank.  It was 14 feet to the bottom of the tank, and there was no access to the outlet baffle from the outside the tank.

There’s only one way to fix this problem.  Pump the tank out.  Enter then tank, and repair the baffle.

Now I know what you are thinking.  What a glamorous job, and how do I get started in it.  ha ha.  Let me just tell you, I ruined my clothes this day, because I simply forgot to suit up.  Slight oversight.  Oops

Repaired outlet baffle

Repaired outlet baffle

Here is the outlet baffle repair.  It is a sanitary tee, with 14 inch extension going down into the tank. This is where the tank will be pulling it’s water from.  Now see, solids float and hit the tee, and cannot move through the system.

It is equally important to remember this.  If your system has an alarm, it means your system is going to flood out.  If it floods out, you will lose the functionality of the outlet baffle and solids will float up and in the tee.

Oh, and there is a polylok extend lock on this tee as well.  Without this this repair would have taken hours to match pipes and what-not.  I don’t want to spend that much time in this tank.

I need to be fast and efficient.  I am 14 feet down in a tank, I just emptied.  It’s kinda dangerous down there, my truck is running supplying me with fresh air to breath.  I think I was down there for maybe 5 minutes.

Safety is key here, in and out.  You can ask the owner of this tank.  As he stated, I was a “bulldog” in and out, and get it done.  Now his outlet baffle is working, protecting his drainfield.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Septic Tank Location

Saturday, May 15th, 2010
Driving on Septic Tanks

Driving on septic tanks crush them

Hello everyone,

I don’t think I should have to say this, but you should know the exact location of your septic tanks.  This homeowner didn’t know where it was until his car fell into it.   This will be expensive to repair.  I am sorry for anyone this happens to.  It is so inexpensive to have a septic technician come out and locate the septic system for you.  Usually it’s around 150 bucks.  Then you can mark it, draw maps and keep records.

In this way, if you hire a tree cutter, or house painter, or roofer you can tell them to stay of this spot.  Protect your septic system.

Remember the average major septic repair is anywhere from $3,000.00 to $6,000.00.

In this particular case it’s going to be more around $1,500.00.  I only need to replace the lid of the septic tank.  Pump out all the sewage, dirt, and debris that entered it.  and clean it out.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

House on top of septic tank

Saturday, May 15th, 2010
House on top of septic tank

House on top of septic tank

Okay, here’s a scary one I did for a homeowner.  Or should I say couldn’t do for a homeowner.  Here’s why and situation.

Homeowner wants to sell home, buyer is wanting a septic pump and inspection.  Records indicate that this septic system has not been inspected or pumped in at least 10 years.  I went to the house and the homeowner had tried to locate his septic system but was unsuccessful.  I could see multiple holes in the yard of him trying.  I tried my best to find it traditionally, but was unsuccessful at that as well.  Lucky me, I had my electronic locater on the truck.

I simply flushed a transmitter down the toilet and followed the signal to under the house.  Now you may see in this picture one lid to the left.  This is the outlet side of the tank and the second chamber to the tank.  The second chamber of the septic tank only holds water with some sludge on the bottom.  The solids are kept in the first compartment.  You can see just below the green board, a very small section of lid that I was able to expose.  There are load bearing beams on top of the lid and I stopped digging.  I didn’t want the house to fall on me.

Also homeowner built this addition without any permits.  If the homeowner would have acquired a permit, the county would have said, it’s okay to build, but you have to move your septic tank first.  No problems.  There are more problems.

House on top of Septic Tank

House on top of Septic Tank

The septic tank is made of plastic.  A Plastic septic tank, or it could be a fiberglass septic tank as well.  But the homeowner has noticed that yearly the house is sinking.  He has to go under every year and jack up that corner of the house, and put shims in the load bearing beams.  It never crossed his mind that his septic tank may have been under and collapsing.

Fact is his septic tank is collapsing and his house is falling into his septic tank.  Not a pleasant thought.  Good news is that this is not too terrible of a fix.  This addition needs to be supported and lifted by a steel I-Beam.  Then I can pump out the tank and move it to another location.

And of course it does cost a lot of money, but money that could have been avoided if a permit was to be filed.

I know what you’re thinking.  Permits are out of control, and in a sense I agree.   But in this case a permit would have saved this homeowner a lot of heartache, money, and grief had he applied for one.

Thanks for Reading,

Ronnie

Aquaworxs Septic Control Panels

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Here’s another example of where septic systems are going now.  No longer is gravity doing the work anymore, but most important On-Demand pump dosing is going to the wayside too.

Aquaworxs Controller

Aquaworxs Timed Controller

Now for an example, we have a sand filter that has been engineered to only take 22 gallons every 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I have used this example before in another post.  The most important thing a homeowner must know about the Aquaworxs controller, is that you need a controller interface computer.  You can see me holding it there in the picture.  I have the newest version called the Marc 2.  With this computer I can see how many alarms have gone off and when.  I can tell what time and day it went off.  I can set up Veto Doses.  That basically means, if the controller is about to go into alarm, turn the pump on for (for example) one minute.  Just to help get some of that water out of there.    There is one problem with the Veto Dose however; we are allowing the controller to exceed the limits of the sand filter, or the next septic component.

I can also tell the pump time and pump cycles.  This will allow me to see if the homeowner is exceeding their daily flow, or if they are within spec.  These numbers are set up by the Septic Designer, and I come out and verify the settings.  But most importantly we need to be sure the septic pump is still performing as it was designed.

Here’s why.  All pumps are degrading with time.  If you install a pump, about a year later, it is not performing as if it were new.  This will throw off your dose to your septic sand filter, mound, and will start to cause your alarms to activate more frequently.  Also if this is allowed to continue, the pump will start drooling the water into your drainfield, sandfilter, sandmound, and causing unusual bacterial growth.  And will need to have jetting work done.

If you have any questions about your controller, feel free to call me or send me an email.  No question is too dumb when it comes to your septic treatment plant.  It’s a very expensive component, and you should take care of it.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Complicated Septic System:

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Okay,

Today, I got a call from a nice lady confused of why she needed a septic inspection when it was only a year old.  I can totally understand the why.  She paid over 15,000 dollars for this septic system, why does it need inspected all ready.  She stated that it was a basic septic system, and doesn’t know what all the fuss was about.  I told her it’s a real good idea to have your septic system inspected periodically to be sure it is functioning as designed.

She scheduled, and I came out.  I came out to find a pretty complicated septic system.  There is a computer running the whole show, and someone had opened it up and messed with the timers.

Septic System Contol Panel

Septic System Control Panel

Here is a control panel for a septic pump.  It is controlling the on/off time of the pump.  Now at this location, this septic system was engineered to time-dose a sand filter only 20 gallons of effluent every 1 hr and 45 minutes.  And it is to run this setting forever.  Now you may ask, “how do you know how much water is being pumped, there’s no flow gauge or flow meter inline?”  Now this is where things get a bit tricky.

First you must find the volume of the pump tank.  LxWxH.  That is your volume in cubic feet.  In this tank we were 3 feet x 6 feet x 4 feet.   That is 72 cubic feet.  Now we need to convert cubic feet to gallons.  There is 7.48 gallons per cubic foot.  So we multiply the two.   That gives us 538 gallons.  Now, we need to figure out the gallons per inch.  The tank is 4 feet deep, so we divide 538 by 48 inches.  That gives us our gallons/inch.   About 11 gallons of water per inch.

Now we can see how much the pump is pumping.  I took a depth measurement of the water in the tank.  Then turned the pump on for exactly one minute.  I need to know what this pump is pumping per minute.  I got 5 inches of drawdown in one minute.  At 11 gallons per inch, we are pumping 55 gallons per minute.  The pump is doing great and the sandfilter is accepting water at an acceptable level.

Now here’s where the problem is.  I found the on-time for the septic pump at 1 minute 45 seconds on.  That’s over 90 gallons per dose.  This is over the maximum by nearly 4 times the acceptable level.  This now explained to me, and the homeowner why the sandfilter was so soggy.  It was getting slammed too hard all at once.  Remember this septic system was designed to have 20 gallons per dose.  This system was heading down the road to failure quickly.  And it was only a year old.

Here’s a picture of the septic system with the lids opened.

Septic Tank Pumping

Septic Tank Pumping

The lid closest to me is the solids handling tank.  It was nearly empty. One inch of scum and zero sludge.  Second compartment is the clarifying chamber.  It was also empty with zero sludge and zero scum.  But there is a filter in this one that needs cleaned.  I will show a picture of that in a second.

The furtherest lid is the pump compartment.  It’s designed to be a surge tank and gather enough effluent to push it out to the sandfilter. But only time dosing it 20 gallons every hour and 45 minutes.

The first two compartment of this septic tank are what normally needs pumped.  About every 5 years if used properly.  If one person lived on this system, it could easily be 15 years between septic pumpings.   A family of 9 or more would be pumping this more frequently.  Sometimes every 2-3 years.  Remember, this system will only handle what it was designed to process.  In this example, it is designed to handle 360 gallons of wastewater per day.  And yes, showers, baths, laundry, and cleaning is included in this amount.  With a system like this one, if you exceed the amount, an alarm will go off asking you to back off until it can catch up.

Part of the inspection I check to make sure all alarms are functioning.  We want to make sure it will tell you that something is wrong.  There is a silent switch on all alarms.  Let me assure you that this doesn’t mean you fixed it.  It means you acknowledge the alarm and are doing something to fix it.

Septic Filter

Septic Filter

Here is the septic filter I was talking about earlier.  I am taking the picture after it was cleaned, so you aren’t seeing it all goopy and stuff sluffing off of it.  It’s not too pleasant, but it’s job is vital on how long this system can function.

There was one homeowner that was tired of cleaning it yearly, so he threw it away.  Well the filter is designed to trap particles from going into the sand filter and plugging it up.  And yes he plugged up his sandfilter in 5 years, and needed to be replaced.  Another $5,000 – $7,000 dollars for a new sand filter.  Seems like I’d keep it in and keep it clean.

I really hope you are getting a lot of information from this site,  If you are, please leave me a note.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie