Posts Tagged ‘system’

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

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.

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

septic system homeowner inspection video

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

This link is the best video, by far, I have seen for homeowner self inspection.  Just in case you are one of those that want to share in the joy in septic work.  If you have 25 minutes, please watch this video.  If you don’t wish to participate in your self inspection, at least you will see what we are looking at when inspecting your system.


Now this is filmed for those needing explanations at nearly every step.  But this includes Gravity, Pressure Distrubution, Sand Filters, and Sand Mounds.  This video does not include Aerobic units or Proprietary Septic devices.

One thing to note, it did miss a necessary and mandatory test which is called a “Draw Down” test of all pump chambers.   This tells us two things, 1. how the pump is performing, and 2. how the next component is accepting the effluent.

Slow draw downs are not good.  It can mean the pump is not performing at a rate good enough to scour the lines, and keep the pipes clean, and/or the next component could be plugged and need cleaned.

There is a lot of good stuff here.

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.

Plumber’s attempt at Septic Repair

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Be cautious about plumbers attempting septic repairs.  Always check qualifications.  Your local health department will have a list of those trained to diagnose and repair septic systems.  This plumber in this testimonial was not certified.  And wrote up an estimate of nearly $5,000.00 for repairs.

Proof of this can be found on my facebook page.  www.facebook.com/firstcallseptic  The homeowner lives in Colorado, and the distance is daunting to when it comes up to these types of problems.

To read the entire testimonial by the homeowner click here.  https://www.facebook.com/firstcallseptic/posts/343687882369817 

Wow, Yesterday. I don’t even know where to begin. Wow. You’ll see.

I got a distress call from a homeowner in Colorado. A Tenant had called up a plumber. This plumber came into the house and verified that the septic system was backing up in the house. From this walk through, five minutes, was able to tell the septic tanks need pumped, wastewater was under the house, and was going to charge $800 to inspect the septic system. Their total estimate for repairs, for which they aren’t certified to diagnose or repair, was $4,300.00 $2,500.00 of which was for septic cleanup under the house.

Homeowner was very stressed. She is in Colorado and is so limited by distance. I told her I would be there in the morning to find out what’s wrong.

Truth-be-told, I was expecting a long day of swimming in sewage. I showed up in really old, throw-away clothes. I was sure I was going to have a bad day.

When I arrived I had to run some tests on an effluent pump. I determined that this was the cause of the backup.

I replaced the pump and the system is running normally. There is no wastewater in the crawlspace.

Their total bill was about $582.00. A Far cry from the $4,300.00 estimate. Always call for a second opinion. Even if it’s me. There are crooked companies attempting to work on septic systems that aren’t certified, and costing homeowner’s thousands of dollars.

There is more stories to this house, but that’s another incident, and another post.

Latest customer testimonial via website: Memorial Day 2012

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Dear Ronnie,

 

You were awsome today. Your willingness to respond on a holiday weekend was a life saver. We really appreciate your patience, politeness and understanding. The fact that you took the time to explain in detail to multiple people the workings of septic systems was cool. Your knowledge of not only your job but state and federal regulations shows your dedication to your work. I especially liked how you looked up county records and knew more about this system than I.

The care you took bringing in your equipment to not damage trees and only digging up what you needed to preserve the property and not hurt our mother earth. Your over the phone quote was spot on and options to lower the bill is appreciated. I can’t tell you the last business I dealt with,with great customer service like yours. Your positive attitude, care, concern, patience, and honesty speak volumes of you as a person. You surely saved our weekend gathering and I’m sure my aunt Maja (home owner) will be pleased when she finds out. Thanks to you I now know more about poo, enzymes and bacteria than I ever did before. Many blessings and many thanks.

 

Darren Penland

Darren,

It was really no problem at all. I enjoyed your family’s company and
kindness. Also know this. In the eight years I have been driving a septic
truck, I have never had anyone Ever walk my truck all the way out to the
road as you did. I really appreciated that, and it made second job, truck
driver, so much easier.

Thanks a million,

Ronnie

Dog rescued from a sinkhole caused by an old cesspool, cistern

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Dog rescued from a sinkhole caused by an old septic tank, cesspool, or cistern.  

Here is just another example of getting these aging systems checked out from time-to-time.  And this was done by the weight of a dog.  It’s not even worth thinking about if the grandkids came over for a visit.

Thank God no one got hurt,

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie

 

 

RV Dump on septic system incorrectly installed

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

This homeowner decided that he wanted to install an RV dump.  Now you have to be careful with RV wastewater.  There are two things wrong with RV wastewater.

RV dump added to septic system

RV dump added to septic system

1. The septic system was designed to take wastewater at small doses.  Not 250 gallons at a time.  It really stirs up the tank and causes the sludge layer to become stirred up and carried out to the drainfield.

2. The little packets that you have to put in the toilet to control the odors are not septic approved.  Now they may say “all natural” and “biodegradable” and that usually gives one a warm squishy feeling that it must be septic safe.  But all of those packets are really low on the PH scale.  Meaning acidic.  You have to kill bacteria to control odor.  So in effect, you are dumping 250 gallons of sanitized wastewater into your septic tank, effectively killing the bacteria.  Let alone what’s happening in #1.

But in this case, the pictures show that the RV dump was placed incorrectly.  He completely plugged up his drainfield.   Drainfields can handle water only.  No solids at all.  So as it is set up at his house.  Household wastewater flows from the house, to the septic tank, and exits to the drainfield.  A correctly installed RV dump would be placed in-between the house and the septic tank.  That way the RV waste would have some septic tank treatment, and solids separation before heading out the drainfield.  You can see in the pictures attached that the RV Dump was placed between the septic tank and the drainfield.

Modifications to your septic system should be done by someone qualified.  Or at least call us for a consult over the phone before an expensive mistake happens.

RV Dump added to Septic System 2

RV Dump added to Septic System 2

Repair pictures to follow.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Ronnie