Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Septic Tank, Septic Tank Additives and the Septic Genie?

Its been a month or more since I've left a blog for anyone who discovers this site to read. Due to the economic down turn changes in my schedule have taken up most if not all of my time. But as Jack Nicholson is famous for saying, "He's back!!!!!!"

Here is a subject that may be common knowledge (or not?). The subject is frequently asked in two questions: Is it a good idea to put in additives into my septic tank on a monthly basis? When my septic system is nearing failure, should I start putting additives into my septic tank? Here's how I answer these questions.

No one can say with absolute certainty when a disposal field will fail. The only judgments anyone can make are based on the averages that have consistently been observed over the years for disposal field life expectancy. 20 to 25 years is the most common time frame.

When a disposal field is nearing failure due to age, or there are early indications that failure is imminent, putting bacteria, enzymes and chemical additives into a septic tank on a monthly basis by the homeowner, hoping to extend the life of the disposal field, is not a good idea. Putting additives monthly during the life of a septic system is even a less good idea. It is not possible to stop people from doing so, therefore the EHDs don't make prohibitions about doing it. They rightfully recommend against it however. Here's why.

The ultimate purpose of a septic tank is to sequester and thus remove bio-solids from the waste stream by separation into sinkable and floatable solids through intestinal bacteria activity within the septic tank. This is commonly called "primary treatment". The intestinal bacteria in your solid waste don't digest the organic material in the septic tank (they didn't in your intestines so how can they in a septic tank?) but they break apart molecules making up the solids into solids that can sink to the bottom of the tank forming what is called sludge and this allows solids that can now float or rise to the surface of the effluent to form a solids layer called scum. This removes between 70 and 90 percent of the solids you just put into water to take them out of your house by gravity. To do this most effectively, there is a minimum retention time for the effluent to remain in the septic tank. This is why you have to pump your septic tank; to remove these sequestered solids so the retention time for liquid to remain in the septic tank stays within the design limits. Eventually solids take up space and reduce the liquid capacity of the septic tank, reducing retention time. What people are doing with the additives they put into their tank every month is short circuit the sequestration process.

The bacteria, enzymes and chemicals additives breakdown and solubolize some of these sequestered solids and allow them to leave the septic tank (where they belong) and travel in suspension within the effluent to the disposal field. There these solids form a congealed sludge and can potentially decrease the functional life of the disposal field. People feel better and believe they are doing something powerful for themselves by having to pump their septic tank less frequently. The reality is different. They aren't removing solids from the system, they are merely moving them to another area of the system, the disposal field. The potential for decreasing the functional life of the disposal field is more problematic and could be more costly than saving some pumping costs. Homeowners putting these products into a septic tank are potentially damaging the most expensive aspect of their septic system...the life of the disposal field.

If you are willing to pay for a highly over priced disposal field replacement, then my comments about these additives are not germane to you. But if you want to make certain that you are not doing anything to compromise the potential functional life of your disposal field, then you are well advised not to put these bacteria, enzyme and chemical additives into the septic tank. Allow the tank to provide the sequestration as its designed to do and pay for periodic pumping. Pumping is cheap compared to the potential for early disposal field replacement.

If the prospect for disposal field failure is high due to the disposal field having lasted the expected 20 to 25 year time period, the amortized cost per year of a septic system is the lowest when the useful life or your disposal field reaches this period of expected failure. In my opinion, this issue needs to be considered in making a decision for any improvement to a septic system and is seldom considered. When you add the low cost option of installing a Pirana System, you don't increase the low amortized cost of owning a septic system that functions properly to the expected design life by any significant amount.

Allowing failure to occur doesn't make sense, when remediating the disposal field using the Pirana Sysytem technology is available. Keeping the disposal field from failing keeps the potential problems within the homeowner's control. Installing a Pirana System at this point will eliminate the potential for failure while remediating the biomat already in the soil.

If a homeowner wants to stop the process of biomat clogging and keep his or her septic disposal field from failure, then installing a Pirana System is the least expensive and guaranteed solution to this problem. The Pirana System will also improve septic tank performance and reduce pumping providing the same benefit as the additives without the potential problem in the disposal field. It is in fact, restoring the disposal field. With the unconditional money back performance guarantee, what does a homeowner have to loose? Nearly fifteen hundred homeowners over three to four years have installed the Pirana System without a failure to remediate their disposal fields.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I don't know if anyone reads these musing but if they did and found that I've not posted anything for a month then finding me back might be uplifting. I had so many contacts that required my whole day that I decided to wait to post something until I had something from working with people that would be valuable for others. I now have a number of topics that will give me something to write about.

One of the most common topics that people who contact me want information on is the question of why can't they use other methods for dealing with septic disposal field failure than the few options "allowed" them by their local EHD or DEQ. They understand the Pirana System and the Septic Genie technology and can't understand why the employees at their local health department can't understand it.