Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tree Roots in Septic Tank Removal

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Hello there septic system owners.  This blog post is about trees and what they do to your septic system.  But in this case it’s just the septic tank that stopped working.  They can do all sorts of damage.

This client has been warned for many years.  10 years ago roots had started infiltrating the seams of the septic tank.  At that time the client was told it would be a good idea to cut the trees down by the septic tank.  But client saw “Root Kill” for septic systems.

So here’s a little education on septic systems and root kill additives.  Root kill additives are meant to be put directly into the drainfield.  Flushing them down the toilet, into the septic tank doesn’t do any good.  None of the additive will reach the drainfield.  It’s even on the package to add it directly to the drainfield.  And it does work when applied to the inlet line going to the drainfield, from the septic tank.

 

So for over the next 10 years this client added Root Kill into her septic system by flushing them down the toilet.  The roots continued to grow without the client knowing.  Until one day the system stopped working. Below we tried to break up the roots a little bit with tool called the crustbuster.  Of course it didn’t work, but I was willing to try anything to not have to go inside this septic tank.  But it did mix up the sludge on the floor so the vacuum truck to suck it out, and I wasn’t wading up to my knees in sewage.

 

Now the client wasn’t backing up just yet.  But was selling their house.  During a real estate inspection for the buyer, we removed the lids and saw the root damage.  The buyer could see that these roots couldn’t possible be good for the septic system, and could see that the roots have stopped the whole tank from working as it should.  Buyer decided that he wasn’t going to purchase the home until the problem was fixed.  Now here’s a little lesson on Real Estate Transactions.  Once a problem has been discovered about anything, the seller and the Realtor must disclose this condition to any trying to buy the home.  So needless to say, most people would not buy a home with a septic system in this condition.

 

So now comes time for the repair.  We had to take a shovel and chop a hole through the roots to get a hose to the bottom of the tank.  The pumper sucked out the best it could and then it’s time for “Confined Space Entry”.

We have the canopy set up as it’s raining pretty bad.  We have a tripod set up.  This is what lowers me into the septic tank and pulls me out.  I wear a harness that connects to that tripod.  I have blowers pushing fresh air down to me, and I wear an air monitor that monitors the air I am breathing.  Anything goes wrong the guy manning the tripod would crank me out of the hole.

Once lowered in you can see the damage it created.

I was down there for two hours.  Cutting roots with shovels and pretty much wrecking my sawsall.  But they needed to come out.

About half way during this procedure I did need a break.  This job is the worst root job I have had to this date.  I spent over 2 hours down there, and it was exhausting.  I can feel it in my body now about 18 hours since this job happened.  I am sure to be sore.

So when your septic technician let’s you know that you should remove plants/trees/shrubs, he/she is trying to save you money.  Because even though this is a “Job”, or maybe even “Job Protection”, it’s one that none of us want to do.  We are also trying to save you money.  This expense.  This tree root removal job cost the client about $1,600.00 and could have been avoided by simply removing the trees.  And make no mistake about it, if they don’t remove these two trees, we’ll be back.  Because the trees know that there’s free water right there and fertilizer.

 

Most important is that this is a job none of us want to do.  It’s really gross to be wading around sewage with creepy crawly worms and stuff, spiders, and everything else you can image.  I for one came out a different man then when I went in.  I may need therapy to help me forget this job.  It was a nightmare.

Service Call Fee for Septic Bids

Saturday, April 1st, 2017
Here’s another story for the “I cannot make this stuff up file.”
 
Let’s talk fees for a second. Our “Service Call Fee” is $125.00. That fee get’s our truck on site and starts working for emergencies. But then we go by the hour plus parts until we are done.
 
There are other guys out there that’ll do a $75.00 service call.
 
We lose some work to this problem over the phone. One needs to understand the difference.
 
So let me set up this senario that happened yesterday.
 
Client calls up a service call by competitor. It’s $85, super cheap. But when they show up to replace a 2 foot section of pipe underground was bid out at $1,200. And it’s only 24 inches underground.
 
Client didn’t call me because that’s something I don’t really do. It’s the pipe between the house and the septic tank called the “Transport Line”
 
Client calls me up and asks if I do this type of work, I say no. Not really. But he tells me the bid, and my jaw drops. That can’t be right, I must be missing something.
 
I told him I would do it. But be prepared it could cost $600-$800 dollars. I’m shooting from the hip here, as I am not there looking at it.
 
I arrive. Service Call is $125.00 to get there. I dig out the line, 1.5 hours of labor. 2 fittings and a section of pipe and bentonite clay, was about $50.00. We used the client’s own gravel to bed the pipe.
 
His bill was under $400.00. Still far under my “Over-the-phone-shooting-from-the-hip” of $600-800.
 
And way super less expensive than the $1,200 bid from competitor.
 
Food-for-thought. $125 service call isn’t that bad anymore.
 
Thanks for reading,
 
Ronnie

Groundwater intrusion by heavy rains and high groundwater solved

Friday, February 10th, 2017

 

This homeowner did not want to divert water by digging rain drains and ditches. Super nice yard, didn’t want dug up.

One option is to trench the water to off of the tanks and direct water downhill.  Frenchdrains work great for this too.  But in this case, the homeowner’s yard would have been destroyed to his house as that’s where the raindrains are, down hill.

So we chose another alternative means to divert groundwater and rainwater off of his septic tank.

This is another option, put in a dry well to a pump. This is a rough backfill, because the area is super soppy. It will need cleaned up better when dryer weather is back.

This system just sits plugged in and waiting. Costs nothing to run when water levels are low. But when water levels come up and it starts raining hard, the pump will kick on and send the water away from the septic.

 

 

Lack of Septic Pumping leads to Septic System Failure

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

This septic emergency was because of lack of maintenance.

This client was under the impression that you never need to pump the septic system, unless it’s giving you trouble.  He adds septic tank additives every months.  It’s never giving him a problem before.

Unfortunately, over 8 years, it completely packed with solids.  All a septic tank does is separate liquids from solids and allow liquids to enter the drainfield.  If the septic tank get’s too full, it will allow solids to enter the drainfield, and cause it to fail.  This homeowner thought he was taking very good care of his system.  No garbage disposal.  Doesn’t flush any garbage at any time.  Just toilet paper.  Added septic additives.  He was shocked to see that the system is now failed.  It filled up with water, and the drainfield could not accept any water, and backed up within minutes of pumping the septic tank.  Now the entire system will need to be replaced with a system that’s up to code.

This septic system failure could have been easily avoided by cleaning the septic tank every 4-6 years.

Estimated cost of system replacement $8,000-$13,000 if county allows replacement.  The county may require city sewer hook up because it’s close.  Estimated cost to hook up to city sewer $18,000 to $25,000.  Estimated cost of pumping a septic tank every 4-6 years $380.00.

how septic systems work

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Watch this video for a basic understanding how simple septic systems work.

This applies to all Gravity Septic systems.

The more you know

 

 

Thanks for watching,

 

Ronnie

Septic System Inspection Video

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Here is an example of what a video of a septic inspection for a real estate transaction where a video is required.  This buyer called us to inspect this system and didn’t know where the components were, and this house was Bank Owned.


This inspection cost this buyer $135.00, “Cowlitz County” rate.  No additional charges to find the tank, nor dig it out.  Although, this lid was super duper heavy, and I required the homeowner’s assistance to get that lid off.

Thanks for reading and watching,

 

Ronnie

Nu-Water Aerobic Treatment Plant

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

The video attached is a video of a Nu Water Aerobic Treatment Plant by Enviro-flo.

 

The reason we need to have this level of treatment was for the stream and high ground water in this area.  We need to protect our surface and ground water from contamination.  The neighbors well is pretty close as well, so in order to have a home this close this homeowner agreed to have annual maintenance to this system.

Now annual maintenance does not mean it needs pumped out every year.  It just needs monitoring to ensure that we are not contaminating surface and ground water.

We take DO (Dissolved Oxygen) measurements.  This tells us how much Oxygen is dissolved into the water for the Aerobic Bacteria.  A low DO reading would indicate that something was wrong, and I would need to diagnose what.

We also take a Turbidity measurement as well.  Turbidity is a measurement of how much particulates are in the water being released into the drainfield.  It is measured in NTU or Nephelometric Turbidity Units.  Basically our meter passes light through the sample as is able to tell how much light makes it to the receiver.  If the sample is foggy, it will be a high reading.  In this case, it’s near drinking water.  .77 NTU or less than 1 NTU.

This system here is Level B treatment.  There is no Disinfection unit to clean or take care of, because this site didn’t require Level A Treatment.

Also, this system is functioning perfectly.  And will continue to do so as long as it is maintained.  It is normal to pump out the first two compartments every 2-3 years or so.  As to not have excessive solids build up in the plant.

Also note: this is a wastewater treatment plant.  Not too unlike a commercial plant like your city wastewater treatement plant.  The commercercial plant has operators there 24 hours a day 7 days a week monitoring it’s levels and ensuring the community and the environment that it is releasing pure water into the rivers and streams.

This client’s plant is a “Residential” version of the “Commercial” plant.  It is agreed that once per year should be okay for maintenance.  But make no mistake about it.  This system was very expensive and will not “Self Clean” or “Take Care” of itself.

The repairs to a plant that is neglected can reach 10’s of thousands of dollars.  And 100% of the time, the client won’t know damage is being done, until it’s too late and toilets no longer flush, or sewage is backing up in the yard.

Annual inspections only run $110 dollars in Clark County, Wa.   All of our rates are clearly posted on our website at http://www.firstcallseptic.com/septic-rates/

If anyone has any other questions or needs advice, please feel free to send me an email, or leave a comment here.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie

Septic tank backed up due to a clogged filter

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Here is a friendly tip if you’re backed up in an emergency.  This home has a 2 compartment septic tank and an outlet filter that screens the effluent going to the drainfield.  This filter should be cleaned annually.  There is diaper wipes in this tank, so we pumped it out the same day.

In the video I pulled the filter out and put it back in right away, didn’t want to send too much unscreened effluent to the drainfield.  I forgot to video the portion where we wash it off with a garden hose.  It’s simple, just hose it off and put it back.

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie

Septic Tank Baffle Inspection

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

This is a Septic Tank Baffle Inspection:  Does not include the rest of the sludge and scum measurements or anything like that.  I was working alone today, and saw that this was a great opportunity to video this part.

These are the baffles that are located within a septic tank. These happen to be made of concrete and the outlet is rotting badly. The outlet baffle is the component that separates liquids from solids. The drainfield can handle water, nothing more, and that is the function of the outlet baffle. This tank needed pumping and you can see how soft the outlet baffle is. It is going to crumble during pumping. It was replaced today with new ABS Plastic baffle, with has no reaction between Hydrogen Sulfide gas and itself. It’s inert. So the repair is a permanent repair. Sorry, I was working alone today, and could not film the repair. But here’s the video.

 

Thanks for Reading,

 

Ronnie

Removing a clog from Septic tank inlet baffle

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Below is a video of a clogged inlet baffle.  This homeowner called us out for a pumping and thought his septic tank needed cleaned.  It did need cleaned, but for other reasons.  The tank was backed up due to a clogged inlet baffle.  And this advice could save you money in a case of a backup.

Just a reminder, this video is not an inspection.  A true inspection will involve sludge and scum measurements, second compartment (if applicable) inspection, and outlet baffle inspection.

Once unclogged, contact your local approved septic inspection contractor for an inspection.

Thanks for reading,

 
Ronnie