7 Nifty Things About Septic Systems & Garbage Disposal

Here at GeekyAntics, we like to cover all the things we geeks think about or at least should be aware of. It’s usually fun or useful stuff. Today’s featured article is in the latter camp, thanks to our ongoing collaboration with Martin Septic Service of Georgia. Enjoy!

Now, you may be reading this thinking, “But, wait, I don’t own a house.” That may be true but you don’t want to deal with a crappy (quite literally) situation in the future, do you? Here are some things you should know, even if you are a renter or soon-to-be homeowner.

1. Septic Systems Are Everywhere

Before talking with Vince Martin of MSS (that’s Martin Septic Services, for short), it never struck me just how much we take septic systems for granted. If you are used to living in big cities like I am, transitioning to rural areas can be tricky. After tons of research and probing Vince with the right questions, I learned that septic tanks are used by one in five U.S. households nation-wide but, in the South, that number is at around half and growing. If you live in a trailer or rent a house, chances are you have a septic system. If you own a home, those chances are even higher.  Septic systems come in many flavors but, basically, you have a septic tank, a bunch of pipes, and a drainfield where everything ultimately ends up.

How Septic Systems Work

2. Smart Water Usage & Conservation

Water conservation is always a smart play and it’s great for the environment, but it is absolutely crucial when you have a septic system in place. In our household, we’ve gotten better about spreading out laundry and doing smaller loads. We’ve also gotten into the habit of running the water less and lower pressures. Even spacing out bath/shower time makes a huge difference. I know, we all love our long showers and bubble baths but the idea here is to give the septic tank enough time to drain. Trust me, you DON’T want that thing to overload!

3. The Economics Of Septic Systems

A routine inspection and preventative can be as little as $300. Conversely, replacing a failing septic system can cost you anywhere from $3000 to $15000, depending on what sort of system you need for your land. As is the case with any other major investment such as a car or a house as a whole, being proactive is best (and MUCH more affordable). When you consider the exorbitant costs of emergency services and the huge mess a drainfield can become due to septic system negligence, investing in routine work makes A LOT more sense… And take this from a really frugal guy – ME!

What do you flush/drain and NOT?

4. What NOT To Flush Or Drain

Hazardous chemicals such as bleach, disinfectants, and cleaning solvents should never be washed down the drain, if at all possible. Of course, if you’re cleaning your sink, bath tub, and other water basins, this may be unavoidable so consider using natural cleaning solvents for smaller jobs. The trick here is to do simple cleaning on a regular basis so you don’t have to use the harsher stuff for the really tough jobs.

Even everyday items can be pesky. Coffee grounds (in large amounts), food scraps, onion skins, potato peels, pasta, rice, banana peels, and oil/grease are the biggest offenders, yet folks wash them down the drain all the time. Cigarettes and other non-biodegradable items are a HUGE no-no, too.

As a good rule of thumb, any starches or items that expand are huge troublemakers. It may seem silly but, if it doesn’t break down easily under hot running water, opt to put it in the trash or in a proper waste receptacle.

The biggest matter of debate here are eggshells. While they are arguably good for sharpening garbage disposal blades, they are surprisingly resiliant and may cause clogs/build-up in conjunction with other tough everyday items such as paper towels and cotton balls. Lots of advice out there says eggshells are safe but I’ve done some pretty exhaustive research and that advice may be a bit short-sighted. Better safe than sorry!

5. Why Septic Systems Exist

Why would you want a septic system in place of traditional sewers?  I mean, the process sounds kind of gross, right?  The simple answer is that septic systems are more cost-effective in less populated areas. In big cities, sewer systems make sense but, the more sparesely-populated an area is, the more cost-prohibitive building sewer systems becomes. Septic tanks also have a typical life expectancy of up to 30 years, which makes them a nice long-term investment. All your plumbing ultimately drains through the septic system making it a core system and something worth learning about (which is why you’re here)!  Don’t worry: waste material is treated by natural bacteria before the water is drained back out into the environment; that is, IF the system is working properly!

Septic System Construction & Repair

6. Things & Signs To Look Out For

So, when do you call in the professionals to look at your septic system? If you rent, it doesn’t hurt to talk to the property management but they likely have routine visits. If you live at a place for a year or two yet you never notice anyone checking the septic system, a casual conversation may give you some peace of mind and avoid potential catastrophes. Truth be told, if you wait for there to be signs of failure, it may be too late.

Some things to look for are slower draining and strange odors coming from the drainage. If you’re lucky, it may just be an issue with pipes in a localized area and nothing to do with your septic system.. But you never know!

Drainfield overflowing / Failing septic system

7. The Very Real Risks Of Negligence

Septic tanks that go untreated and unchecked can release toxic waste into the environment, which poses a very real threat to your family, pets, and wildlife. Untreated wastewater released from failing systems can contaminate drinking water sources and ruin crops, for starters. The cost of emergency services aside, it’s best to take a proactive approach rather than putting off septic system inspections and maintenance.

Want to learn more? Of course you do! Here’s a useful septic system PDF from West Virginia University, explaining everything you ever wanted to know about septic systems and then some!

If you’re in our neck of the woods, be sure to visit Martin Septic Service of Middle Georgia for your yearly inspection and all your septic system needs. Martin Septic Service covers Eatonton, Grey, Oconee, Milledgeville, Atlanta, and surrounding areas in middle Georgia. Heck, even if you’re not in need of plumbing services of any kind, visit Vince Martin on the official Martin Septic Service Facebook page for funny stuff, memes, and useful DIY tips.  There’s also a Martin Septic Service Google+ page!

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Yogizilla

Hello, my name is Yomar but friends call me Yogi!I am the founder of GANG.My goal is to help the little geeks create a voice for themselves and grow their audience without the usual exclusivity and snobbery found in the world, both offline and online.My background is in IT, marketing, writing, and game design.I'm excited to put my diverse skill sets to some good use and help others!
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Profile photo of Yogizilla About Yogizilla

Hello, my name is Yomar but friends call me Yogi! I am the founder of GANG. My goal is to help the little geeks create a voice for themselves and grow their audience without the usual exclusivity and snobbery found in the world, both offline and online. My background is in IT, marketing, writing, and game design. I'm excited to put my diverse skill sets to some good use and help others!

Comments

  1. I appreciated the advice on signs to look out for to know what to hire professionals. The picture of the leakage in the yard was also informative. The information on the risks of septic tanks going unchecked was also helpful, and I had no idea of the threat this toxic waste could pose.

    • Most people are not aware of how volatile waste disposal systems are in general – I know I wasn’t! Thanks again to Vince Martin of Martin Septic Services for sharing some of his knowledge and pointing us in the right direction. Also, hello to our friends in Florida, Southern Sanitary Systems!

  2. I’m glad that you brought up the point that you and many of us take our septic systems for granted. Although there may be different kinds, they are a good way to keep our waste from getting everywhere and make it possible to get rid of of it as soon as it is full. Like you said, they can take some getting used to, but they are worth it once you figure out how they work.

  3. Hey!!
    Indeed a very nice share..
    I am so pleased to found your page..I seems really informative.
    I really appreciated your advice.

    Well, after reading this I can say that the professional garbage cleaners collect, manage and dump your residential trash at a pre-destined place while gifting you a clean, rubbish free home.

    Thanks for sharing this information..
    Keep doing good work..
    God bless U!!

    • Tips don’t get any easier than this. Put the kettle on or use the stove or microwave if you don’t own a kettle and boil up as much water as it will hold. Now pour it slowly down the drain in two to three stages, allowing the hot water to work for a several seconds in between each pour. This is usually the easiest and quickest way to unclog a drain.

  4. Another excellent home remedy is vinegar. Straight vinegar rubbed on from a cloth or sponge can clean away the grease and food build-up in no time. Keep in mind, however, that the smell may linger for a day or two, but it won’t last much longer than that. If your cabinets aren’t too dirty, you can dilute the vinegar in a little warm water.

  5. Plumbing problems are common in almost every home. These plumbing problems cannot always be seen. Even If you have a brand new house, it does not portray that it has perfect plumbing.

  6. Another excellent home remedy is vinegar. Straight vinegar rubbed on from a cloth or sponge can clean away the grease and food build-up in no time. Keep in mind, however, that the smell may linger for a day or two, but it won’t last much longer than that. If your cabinets aren’t too dirty, you can dilute the vinegar in a little warm water.

  7. Hey!!

    I totally agree with this ..

    Keep a regular check on the toilets and the faucets for any leaks. Make repairs immediately if necessary. Make sure that you have aerators attached on your faucets along with nozzles on showers that reduce the flow.

    Also, planting trees and other deep rooted plants at least 100 feet away from the septic system helps prevent any form of unwanted root damage.

    Thanks for this share ..
    Keep doing good work..
    God Bless U!!

  8. There is some good information here about septic systems. I had no idea that one in five U.S. houses used septic systems. I guess that’s why it’s important to know how they work and how to fix them!

  9. That’s interesting; I never knew that septic tanks are more cost effective in rural areas than normal plumbing. I’m actually not sure what system my home uses — I just moved in last week. I have heard a lot about how important it is to make sure the septic tank is unclogged, though. Apparently, if your grass starts to turn green in some spots and not others, you might have a leak. I’ll have to check and see what system my yard has; I think it’s important to at least know in case there is an emergency.

  10. I worked in a woodshop for several years. It had a septic system in an adjacent lot. If I’m not mistaken, there were several access pipes and vents in the adjacent lot. Anyhow, the owners took great care of the system… the system was at least 30 years old when I left.

  11. Hello, thanks for sharing this vital info about the septic system and garbage disposal. Many of us including me are not much aware about all these things. Educating people about this topic would help them understand the thing most people usually do not discuss about.

  12. Is that design much better than going straight to the city sewers?

  13. Great post! These are some great tips on maintaining your home’s septic system. Most people don’t understand the importance of watching what you wash down the drain. Thanks for sharing.

  14. My husband and I have talked about getting a septic system for our home. We’ve been wondering what we can to to keep the system in good shape. I’m glad that you mentioned watching the draining speed and possible odors. We will be sure to looks for things like that, as well as hire a regular maintenance system.

  15. That makes sense to avoid flushing bleach down into your septic system. Bleach can have some dangerous reactions with other chemicals. Aside from that, it’s important to get your tank pumped every 2 years.

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