Archive for March, 2012

Kitchen Grease in Septic Tank

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Here’s what happens when grease is added to the septic tank.  The PH drops and all septic tank bacteria dies, and this happens.  Let me tell you that this is never ever supposed to look like this.  The damage done to this sytem is really expensive.

No grease down the septic tank ever.  Or this can happen

 

Muffin Monster Sewage Garbage Separator

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Here is a video with Mike Rowe with Dirty Jobs.  He is showing the latest and greatest tool added to our wastewater treatment plants.  Reason, people are flushing garbage into their septic tanks.  I know what you are thinking, “who would throw garbage down their toilet?”  I know, right?  But its a problem that destroys their process at the wastewater treatment plant.  You know, those giant tanks of sewage alongside the freeway.  Yep, those.  Now they pull samples out of our trucks and keep them for five years.  And if there is garbage in there, they won’t let us empty our trucks into their without running them through this special machine called the muffin monster.

Enjoy the 6 minute video, it’s so awesome.

 

Thanks for reading, and watching,

 

Ronnie

Stinking Snow

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Well, Snow destroyed the schedule again.  I had to reschedule my first job till Monday.  Thank goodness I have caring and understanding customer’s who have, or have had, kids.  Because Battle Ground Schools are running 2.5 hours late, preschool’s been cancelled.  My rescheduled customer today told me she totally understands. She was there too, and now I am doing my time.  She was so funny.  I just love my customers.

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie

First Call Septic on TV

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Here is a lost segment when First Call Septic was on TV with Channel 12’s reporter, David Schmitke

 

 

Septic tank cleaning

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Below are two video’s of a septic tank that went 25 years before septic pumping maintenance.  When a tank is completely full of solids, and that’s about 200 cubic feet of NOT mud, it’s extremely difficult to remove.  And expensive.  A septic pumping should take about 20 minutes.

A neglected system, such as this one, takes about 3 hours.  And a lot of back breaking work, and we have to add a lot of water.  Our trucks cannot haul solids by themselves.  The trucks need water to carry the solids to our trucks.  It’s hard on our trucks as well.  That is why it is so expensive.  Plus we have to repair any damage done to the drainfields.

 

Ground Water Intrusion causes massive damage when septic alarm is ignored

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Here is a video of another, “less expensive” riser installation on a septic system.  This homeowner simply took the lowest bid without asking questions.  And honestly, thought, “We are putting a collar on a septic tank.”  How hard can it be.  So he took the lowest bidder not realizing we have to be concerned about high ground water tables.  Now this has created a lot of problems downstream in this septic system.

Now this started taking on ground water back in november of last year.  This is when the homeowner’s septic alarm started to sound off that it was getting too much water.  The homeowner simply “silenced” the alarm.  Thinking it does this whenever it rains.  Stupid septic system.

Now the damage has been done.  You see, he has a sand filter.  Below is a video of the sand filter.  He said it started smelling really bad, but never was out there when the pumps came on to see this happening.

So if you look closely, you can see the color black.  It is stinky and slimy.  This is a bacteria that moves in when septic is surfacing above the ground.  It will always be present in surfacing sewage.  It is one thing a septic inspector is looking for.

Now the bad news.  If he would have called us when the alarm first started to sound, he would have saved a lot of money.

So some sand filter education.  A sand filter is just a huge, in-ground, pool filled with different grades of sand down to the bottom.  At the bottom the water is collected and pumped out to the drainfield.  There is an alarm in this sand filter that warns of a high water even.  This was the alarm that was ignored.  Now the sand filter went completely under water.  Two things happened.  One the sand filter is an aerobic component.  It needs oxygen to breath.  Actually the bacteria in the sand filter need oxygen to breath.  Also remember from the “how it works” page, that the septic tanks are the anaerobic environments.  Now since the sand filter went under water for two long, it went septic, and the bacteria died.  Therefore the sand filter died.  Now we could pump it out and have it dry out, and the bacteria would come back.  But the next problem is impossible to fix.  When the water is pumped out, the sand that was floating in all the water, compacts down as the water recedes.  Making the sand filter surface it’s water, instead of the effluent going down, it goes up, and surfaces.

So please remember.  A Service call is about $125.00 plus whatever parts are broken.  And may some additional labor.

But now this homeowner needs a new sand filter.  Which can run $5,000 to $7,000.  I truly feel bad for my customer’s when this happens.  This is why I have spent so much time on this website trying to educate, and inform homeowners that the power to save money on their septic system, lies with them.  Don’t forget to have their systems inspected and repair/pump what needs done, before this happens.

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie

 

 

 

Septic tank not cleaned often enough

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Here we are.  Septic system is backing up.  Tank had not been pumped in over 25 years.  Never had a problem.  Toilets always were flushing.  Now this is a very common misconception.  Just because the toilet is flushing it doesn’t

Starting diagnosis of backed up septic system. Problem is in the drainfield

Starting diagnosis of backed up septic system. Problem is in the drainfield

mean that the septic system is functioning or needing pumped.  Don’t run it till it backs up.  It get’s expensive from there.

This is what happens when one waits too long to pump their septic tanks out. Remember a septic tank is a solids separating device. Continually separated water from solids and ejects water to the drainfield. If the tank get’s to full it loses the ability and sends solids out to the drainfield, and packs it full of solids. Imagine 400 feet of 3 inch pipe. It can take 10 years to pack that pipe all the way full before you see signs of backing up in the house. Don’t wait this long, this homeowner has about $2,600 in repairs.

In the first picture Chris Gross is assisting me in locating the distribution box.  It’s a tiny tank that distributes wastewater equally to all the lines of the drainfield.  As you can see this one is deep.  Reason.  Homeowner wanted to level off the back yard long after the septic system was put it.  So he added a retaining wall and brought in over 3 feet of soil.  Making the system very deep.  We had to use a trackhoe to excavate.

Septic Distribution Box

Septic Distribution Box Shoddy Repair

The next picture is of the distribution box.  From the looks of it we are not the first ones to be in there.  Whoever repaired this distribution box used some sort of plastic container to plug a hole in the side of it.   You just don’t find this kind of craftsman ship anymore.  Actually, I hope no one finds this kind of work anymore.  I cannot tell you how many times I find such repairs.  This is not a repair.

Oh, and I forgot to say.  It was completely packed full of solids.  I did not get a picture of this.  And for that I apologize.  The pictures get better.  I promise.

Now we ran some simple tests from here.  We added water to this distribution box to see if the drainfield would accept water.  It would not.  The water added just backed up in the hole.  That being said, there is something wrong with the drainfield, or the transport lines to the drainfield.  Gotta keep digging.

In this third picture we are locating the transport lines to the drainfield.  One thing we noticed is that the pipe is a cheap schedule 10 abs plastic.  It was packed so full that it split the pipe.

In the fourth picture you can see the solids trying to get out through the splits it made

Solids pack the pipe in the drainfield

Solids pack the pipe in the drainfield

I know that this is gross.  But it’s just a matter of fact.  If a septic tank goes too long between pumpings it will lose the ability to separate liquids and solids and send solids out to the drainfield, and symptoms may not show up for 10-15 years.  And by the time it backs up, simply pumping doesn’t remove the solids from the pipes.  It needs to be cleaned out.  And in the case where cheap pipe was used during installation, it needs replaced.

In the next picture I cut the top of the pipe off to better illustrate what is going on inside that pipe.

Solids pack a drainfield pipe

Solids pack a drainfield pipe

I know, I know, that has to be the most disgusting thing ever photographed and then posted on a website.  But if your gambling your septic system, you kinda have to get over it.  Cause someone like me will be out there digging this thing up to remove it.  There is only one way to get it out.  There is no magic chemical or powder that’s going to do this.  This cannot be snaked.  This has to by hydro jetted and in this case of cheap pipe, pipe replacement.

Remember when installing a new septic system. Don’t just take the lowest bid without asking questions as to why.  Schedule 10 abs pipe is very cheap, very thin.  Even snaking the pipe can break it, and create a need for replacement.  We replaced with schedule 40.

In this next picture we show a new distribution box with new transport lines to the drainfield. Notice that the distribution box is new, and not repaired with some plastic container.  Trust me.  It’s hard work to replace a distribution box, and get everything to line up.  But to do anything different is just shoddy workmanship.

Septic Distribution Box

Septic Distribution Box

 

This is a top view looking down.  Remember, only water should see this distribution box.  Nothing more.  As long as the tank is serviced when needed, solids will never go down here.  And there is only one way to tell if a septic tank is too full.  One must open the septic tank and take measurements.  No one can tell if a septic system is full or not by just looking in the tank.  Gotta get the dirty tools out and check.  It’s like a dipstick for septic tanks and tells us if it’s time or not.  I will post a blog about that later.

In the next picture you can see the distribution box, to transport lines, to drainfield.  You can’t really tell from the picture but this is down hill from the distribution box.

Distribution box to transport lines to beginning of drainfield lines.

Distribution box to transport lines to beginning of drainfield lines.

Remember the most important rule of plumbing.  Water flows downhill.  Now where the pipes turn 90 degrees to the left, that’s the beginning of the drainfield lines.  There are three in this system.  We hydro-jetted them out as well.  I am sorry, I didn’t get any pictures of this proceedure.  I just didn’t think about it.

Transport lines to drainfield lines

Transport lines to drainfield lines

This is what it looks like after the 90 degree elbow.  Goes directly into drainfield lines which are rock and pipe in this picture.

Septic Distribution Box

Septic Distribution Box

Here is a picture of the distribution box with the lid on it.  Not much to mention here, except this is what it looks like.

And below is finished product.  Now remember it’s raining like crazy when these pictures were taken.  And it’s really really hard to make it look super smooth or spectacular.  But we rebuilt his retaining wall, and brought everything back they way he wanted it. Now it’s time for spreading grass seed.

 

Finished product Standing at Distribution box looking down at drainfield.

Finished product Standing at Distribution box looking down at drainfield.

 

Finished Product Standing at drainfield looking up at house.

Finished Product Standing at drainfield looking up at house.

Now, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse.  But simply running it till it backs up can mean expensive damage has been caused.  It doens’t mean that all the time.  But if you back up, pray that it’s just because the septic tank is too full and won’t accept anymore wastewater from your house.  And don’t push it.  Not at all.  An average pumping is about $400.00.  Inspection run about $95.00, and I would have them checked out every year to every three depending on what kind of system you have.

 

Oh, and most important of all.  This homeowner was one of the lucky ones.  If those solids make it into the drainrock of the drainfield lines, it would have been a system failure.  And needed to be replaced.  There is no fix for solids in the drainrock.  It simply needs replaced with new.  And with the new regulations set up by the EPA, simple and inexpensive gravity systems are harder to get approved.  This system would most likely not have been approved for equal replacement.  This would have had multiple septic tanks with pumps and a pressurized drainfield.  Anywhere from $10,000 to $17,000 to replace.  Remember, it’s less expensive to take care of the septic system you have than to replace it.

Thanks for Reading,

 

Ronnie

Septic Tank leak repair

Monday, March 19th, 2012
Inside Septic Tank Repair

Inside Septic Tank Repair

Here I am inside a septic tank. I know, good times.  However, this homeowner was quoted $4,000.00 to replace a septic tank.  He was never given the option to repair the septic tank.  Now it’s easier and less messy to have it replaced.  But a homeowner needs to know all of his options.  He was really hurting for money due to our downed economy.

When he went to the County permitting department to apply for a tank replacement permit, he was told he may want to call First Call Septic first before spending all this money to see if it could be repaired.  He was told if First Call Septic can’t fix it, then it can’t be fixed.

When I arrived, I could see this was a two part clam-shell like tank.  It’s an easy fix.  Just have to clean the septic tank out.  Im not going diving to make this repair.  Then apply the high strength sealer.  It works great.

It’s always good to get a second opinion when dealing with septic system component replacements.  Because in many cases a repair is possible and much more affordable.

 

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Made in America Parts Only

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I cannot stress this enough.  It’s always amazing to me that someone will complain about our economy, and then send their hard earned money overseas.   There are so many people here out of work, and are willing to work.  And

Made in America

Septic tank riser lid made in America

yes, buying American Made parts and supplies is more expensive.  First Call Septic has taken a stand many years ago.  We’ll do our absolute best to find parts made here.  From the pumps we use, to the risers we install, to the lids that cover septic tanks.

Now I know it’s hard.  It’s tough when one has to decide.  $55.00 for a riser lid.  Or $35.00 nearly the same lid made in china.  But truth of the matter is, it’s more expensive to manufacture parts in this country.   Now, I won’t install a lid made in another country.  Nothing against those other countries, but our country is having a difficult problem.  With all those unemployed right now, I have to bet there are people willing to make lids, pumps, switches right here.

Even the boots my employee and I wear are manufactured here.  Yes we could have saved some money and went to a major outlet store chain that has boots made in another country for about $45.00.  But I have a pair of Red Wing Boots, manufactured in Minnesota.  I have to buy a new pair about every two years.  They get resoled about every year. And that’s about a $400.00 investment every 2 years.   There are shoe salesman, shoe manufacturer, supervisors, store owners, and everyone involved in those boots are able to go home and eat cause we made a commitment to purchase here.

I also purchased a Mack Truck about 4 years ago.  Keep in mind I could have purchased a Hino truck.  They are more fuel efficient.  They are about just as reliable.  But I have to believe that there is a family out there, that can go home and eat dinner tonight because We chose to buy an American made truck.  We also only install American Made parts, when ever we can.  We are still working on trying to find switches manufactured here.

The pumps we use are manufactured in New Jersey and Texas.  They are solid cast iron pumps and are the pumps your grandparents installed and never had problems for over 2o years.  You never heard of Grandpa or Grandma having septic tank pump issues.  But now installers have started using plastic pumps manufactured over seas and they get hot and warp and in some cases only last about 5 years.  They alarms are going off sewage is backing up.  Then the homeowner calls a septic provider.  If they call me, they get one of these great cast iron pumps.  If they call another provider who is a bit cheaper, they get a plastic one.  So I have to ask, How expensive is cheaper parts?  A great pump is going to run anywhere from $300.00 to $600.00 depending on the pump needs.  A cheap pump is less than a $100.00.  But a cheap pump needs replaced on average every 4-5 years.  And that cheaper pumps money is going over seas.

So please, before I can apologize for our prices, know that when you use First Call Septic, we have done everything we can to keep America Rolling.  Insist on American Made products and goods.  Please.  For the love of our country and our fellow countrymen.

Most people don’t realize and I hope that they get one thing from all of this.  You the people can vote everyday.  Everytime you spend a dollar, anywhere, you are voting.  Purchase products made here, and from companies that share the same values as you do.   If you spend your money in other countries, or with companies that don’t share your values, you are giving them power.

Okay, I don’t mean to ramble, but our country is in such bad shape.  And it makes me sad to see why some people just don’t get it.   I could buy parts made in another country, buy trucks made in another country.  That would bring our prices down for sure.  But then we’d be supporting another country and not our own.

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie