Posts Tagged ‘wa’

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.

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

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

 

Septic alarm and what it means

Friday, May 30th, 2014

This is a working model of a basic septic systems pump and alarm for a pressure drainfield, sand filter, or sand mound.  Geogrpahically, these two yellow float switches are located in the tanks with the wastewater.  The light signifies the pump.  When I raise the lower float switch, you must imagine my hand as wastewater.  This is what will trigger the pump to turn on.  The light comes on.  When the lower float is lowered, the light goes off.
Now if something goes wrong with the pump the water levels will reach higher than normal.  When the upper yellow float is raised, it sounds the alarm.  When the water level goes down, the alarm will silence itself.

Now if the alarm is randomly going off, and appearing to reset itself, is an indicator that a pump is starting to go bad or a component is starting to plug up.  I have seen people think that the alarm is malfunctioning and unplug it.  And later cause themselves a very expensive bill.

I hope this demonstration helps those looking at the problem.  And as always, if you have any questions, please email or call me.

ronnie@firstcallseptic.com

360-686-0505

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie

Real Estate Transaction Buyer Beware Septic Service

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Here comes another story of, “I just can’t make this stuff up”

Scenario. Buyer and buyer’s agent call me to inspect a septic system of a house that they are going to purchase. I note that
1. There is an electrical problem that needs an electrician.
2. The alarm float has become detached from the float tree and needs to be reattached.
3. The solids levels in the tank show that the tank does not need pumped; however, there is severe diaper wipe contamination and should be pumped out before putting back into service. Garbage cannot be in septic systems.

*Note: I can only pump the tank and fix the alarm. I am not an electrician. Cost for pumping this tank and fixing the alarm. About $300.00

Okay, pretty straight forward. Right?

Wrong. Seller is a flipper in this county. Buys and sells home that are old drug houses and puts on a coat of nail polish and sells them. Listing agent works for this builder and will protect builders interest at all costs.

Listing agent calls for another septic inspection.

This is the actual notes this septic inspector put into the comment section of his inspection. Also note, he never mentions the diaper wipe contamination.

***Alarm float was installed using a loop method ( unattached ) which is an approved method — BUT I agree with previous inspector attaching alarm
float is better method.
This septic tank is listed on drawing as being a 1000 gallon septic tank on as build drawing, not 1250 as reported on previous report.
Accumulations in septic do not warrant pumping this septic tank as they are at about 30 % of county pumping requirements.
Pumping a septic tank prematurely destroys the bacterial environment within the septic tank requiring the bacteria to regenerate. The only benefit
to pumping a tank prematurely is it helps keep as pumpers in business.
Property owner has electrician scheduled to come repair circuits for alarm and pump chamber***

So lets break this down.
1. Alarm float was installed using a “Loop Method”. I have contacted installers and septic designers. No one has ever heard of this “approved method”
2. He notes that the size of the septic tank is 1000 gallons as per asbuilt and not 1250 gallons as I have noted. Asbuilt is wrong, tank is 6 ft diameter, 6 ft operating depth. After match its 1250 gallons. I can’t argue the math.
3. He noted that the tank should not be pumped as it will destroy bacterial environment. Um, this one loses me. It has garbage in it.

So let’s speculate now. We Don’t pump the tank. 6 months to 1 year later, diaper wipes enter the pump station and clog up the pump. This has happened, just go back in my timeline. I have pictures of pumps eating diaper wipes and sending some out to drainfields. The last time this happened it cost the homeowner over $1,600.

So again, fast forward one year. Buyers are living their lives, following all the rules of septic. But some of these wipes make it to the pump. Call me. I come out and tell them that the tank sent diaper wipes to the drainfield and burned out the pump. And then the next thing happens all the time. They tell me that they don’t use diaper wipes and would never flush those. And I have to tell them that they should have pumped the tank when they moved in.

But that is why they hired me. To tell them what they are getting into. I am not telling them to not buy the house. Just letting them know that their septic system should be pumped out because of the garbage contamination.

I have never got into the politics of my business. I just want to go to work and go home. But now I am getting tired of this type of behavior.

Question that comes to mind is, “why is this competitor not mentioning the diaper wipe contamination in his notes? Is he protecting the “builder/flipper” from spending another $300.00

And in case anyone is wondering…..this competitor is the same as the competitor who made homeowner dig up her own tank, and charged another client for a dead goat removal from her tank.

So here we are. I have been doing this for eight years. And in those years, I have had zero complaints filed with my company. And I have files zero complaints of anyone else. But I feel like I have to do what’s right. I can’t allow my voice to only complain on facebook about these guys any longer.

I am filing a legitimate complaint with the Clark County Health Department today. And let them take it from here.

I really hope that the clients of mine, that he has burned, remember, as the Health Department will be contacting them soon. Don’t lie, don’t embellish the truth. Just tell it like it is.

He’s gotta be stopped.

Sorry so long, and thanks for reading,

Ronnie

For updates on this post, please follow the link to my FACEBOOK PAGE and read all comments.  It gets a bit technical, but if you can follow this, you’ll see the outcome.  Send me an email if you have any questions about this.

Interesting business plan from competitor

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

This goes under the heading of: “I can’t make this stuff up”

This story is unbelievable.

Client purchases a home.  There is a deficiency marked on their septic system from competitor.  “Outlet Baffle is broken”

Client calls my competitor who wrote up the deficiency and asks them to repair it.

Competitor tells homeowner that they need to dig up the tank first.  (This is outrageous to me, for one, I know exactly where to dig.  It takes me all of five minutes.  Plus I have to imagine the homeowner dug up the entire tank.  Because they don’t know any better.)  I don’t even charge for digging but to have a client do it, is well, I can’t find the words to describe what it is.

After Client digs up their own tank she calls the competitor that its ready.

Competitor tells her for $50 bucks he’ll tell her where to buy the repair parts and she can fix it herself.

She called us and booked the appointment.  After finding out we would have dug out the tank for free as it would only take us about 5 minutes.  And it took her all day, as she dug out the entire tank, and not just the access lid.

I will post pictures of this project when it is done.  She is scheduled for later this week.

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie

Rare pics of me working

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

This is a super rare photo of me during a septic pumpout. The machine I’m running is called the crust buster and stirs up the tank so we can guarantee

Septic pumout

This is me running the crust buster during a septic pumpout

we clean the tank well.

This picture was taken by my customer. He was a pleasure to work for and it’s rare to see someone want to take a picture and then share it.

This picture was taken in the camas, washougal area just outside of vancouver.