How to Unclog a Leach Field

     In this article, we are going to go over how to unclog your leach field, but first, let’s go over what that is? Most homeowners know what a septic tank is, however that is not the only part of the septic tank system. As wastewater flows out of the septic tank and through the underground pipes, it gets soaked up into the leach field. The leach field’s job is to break down organic materials and purify the wastewater. To learn more about how to maintain your leach field, keep reading!

Signs of a Clogged Leach Field

     It’s never convenient to have a clogged leach field, but early intervention is the key to avoiding major repairs. For this reason, it’s important to know and look for early warning signs, which can occur both inside and outside the home. One of the first things you may notice inside your home is slow or sluggish drains and toilets. Water will only drain if there is room in the tank, but slow drainage may indicate that the tank is emptying slower, often due to a clog in the leach line. If left for too long, however, the water in the tank could begin to back up into your pipes and make its way back into your sinks, showers, and toilets.

     When a leach field is clogged, you are likely to see some changes to your yard as well. When the grass above your leach field grows greener and taller, this could be a sign that nutrients in the wastewater are making their way to the surface rather than filtering slowly through the field. You may also notice puddling, or even collapsed soil if the pressure around the leach field’s clog rises significantly. Whether inside your home or outside, however, an odor or smell of rotten eggs is often the first thing homeowners notice when a clog occurs.

Unclogging Your Leach Field
Take Action Immediately

     When you notice puddling above your leach field or sluggish drainage inside your home, it’s best to take action right away. It can be a hassle to take time from your day to deal with septic issues, but when wastewater overflows, it can cause major plumbing problems, health issues, and even environmental concerns. At the first signs of septic issues, call a professional to inspect your system and decide on the best course of action.

Reduce Water Usage

     When you have a septic system, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of your water usage, but if you suspect your leach field is clogged, it’s especially important to reduce your water usage. If not, you may begin to see sewage back up into your home or puddling and foul odors in your yard. While you are waiting for a technician to come to your home, consider significantly reducing the water your family uses.

Shock the System with Bacteria

     Homeowners often reach for harsh chemicals and drain cleaners when a clog occurs, but they could actually do more harm than good when a septic system is in place. They are not always effective at eliminating fats, oils, and greases (or FOG), and they could throw off the natural pH balance of the entire system as well. Instead, shock the system with a natural, bacteria-based product. The bacteria will completely digest the FOG in the tank and the leach field as well.

5 Tips to Maintain Your Leach Field

     Often, homeowners don’t think about their septic systems until they begin to smell foul odors or have difficulty flushing the toilet. Simply put, it’s much easier to maintain your septic tank and leach field than repair them. Follow these simple tips to ensure that your septic system functions properly for years to come.

  • Pump it Regularly – Clogs in the leach line typically occur because sludge or FOG make their way from the septic tank into the outlet pipe. When you notice sludge is within 12 inches of the outlet pipe, or FOG within 3 inches, it’s time to have your tank pumped. This will minimize the chances of FOG clogging the outlet pipe or leach field.
  • Conduct Regular Inspections – A septic technician can find and repair small issues before they become larger problems. Schedule inspections annually to keep your septic system in working order.
  • Protect your Leach Field – A broken leach pipe can be hard to locate and challenging to repair. To avoid this, refrain from driving or parking cars above your leach field, which could not only risk breakage but also compact the soil and prevent water from freely filtering through. Do not plant trees near your leach field, either, as the root systems can grow into your leach fields, rupturing pipes and clogging lines.
  • Be Mindful of what goes into your Septic System – Everything that goes down a drain or toilet in your home will eventually make its way into your septic tank. In the bathroom, some things, like septic safe toilet paper, may break down easily once inside your septic tank, but others, even wet wipes advertised as “flushable” are not safe for septic systems. While you may be tempted to dump grease or oil down the kitchen sink, it’s best to dispose of them in separate containers. Food waste like coffee grounds, eggshells, and nutshells should also be avoided.
  • Clean without Chemicals – Your septic tank and leach field need bacteria to break down waste and function properly. Common household cleaners and other chemicals like paints, polishes, and waxes kill off the bacteria that reside there. Not only will harsh chemicals slow the degradation of waste in your tank, but they can also contaminate your yard and even groundwater once leached into the ground. Instead of using harsh chemicals, focus on natural, bacteria-based cleaning products for your drains and septic systems. Learn more about the products that help clean your leach field here.

Unclogging and Maintaining Your Leach Field

     A healthy and functioning septic system plays a vital role in your day-to-day life, so it’s important to identify when there could be a problem and take action to solve it as soon as possible. Some early warning signs of a clogged leach field include foul odors, slow drainage, and even sewage backing up into sinks and showers inside the home. Outside, you may notice taller, greener grass above your leach field, and puddling or sinking soil as well. When you see any of these, it’s best to call a professional as soon as possible, reduce water usage, and shock the system with a bacteria-based product. Once your leach field is back in working order, take the steps to maintain it, including pumping your septic tank regularly and being mindful of what goes down the drain. When you prioritize septic maintenance, you’ll have a well-functioning system for years to come.

How Often Should a Commercial Grease Trap be Cleaned?

   Cleaning a grease trap costs time and money, both valuable commodities to a business owner. However, cleaning and maintaining your grease trap is essential to running your restaurant or commercial kitchen. So what’s the magic number? Read on to learn more about how often your grease traps should be cleaned.

How Often Should You Clean Your Commercial Size Grease Trap?

     Most manufacturers recommend that grease traps should be cleaned every 1 to 3 months. Just how often will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the grease trap and the amount of grease disposed of on a daily basis. To determine how frequently to clean your trap, use the ¼ rule. When a quarter of your grease trap is filled with fats, oils, and greases, or FOG, it needs to be cleaned. Once your interceptor surpasses that capacity, it’s less effective at eliminating grease from wastewater, allowing other problems to follow.

     There are two common signs that your grease trap needs to be cleaned. One of the signs is that you will start to see fruit flies around the openings of your floor drains. The second sign is a foul odor caused by the accumulation of rancid fats, cooking oils, and foods. The odor is often strong, permeating throughout the kitchen, and even making its way into a restaurant’s dining area. Another sign that your grease trap is full is slow drainage. When FOG accumulates in your grease traps, it begins to solidify. This buildup decreases water flow and may eventually lead to clogs as well. You may also notice grease in areas you shouldn’t, like sinks, water lines, and pipes. This indicates that grease is backing up in the trap, and finding alternative exits.

     Even if your grease trap isn’t ¼ full, you may still need to clean it. Some cities and counties have regulations in place to dictate the time between grease trap cleanings. Failing to follow these guidelines could result in fines or lost business, so it’s important to do so regardless of trap capacity.

Best Practices for Keeping a Grease Trap Clean

Rather than waiting until a grease trap is overcapacity, causing problems like clogs and odors, it’s best to put these practices in place:

  • Cleaning Your Grease Trap Regularly – Depending on where you live, this may be law, but even if it’s not, keeping your grease trap clean helps your commercial kitchen to run more efficiently, with no shutdowns that reduce productivity or foul odors that disturb guests.
  • Recycle Waste Cooking Oil – This is both an eco-friendly and budget-friendly solution. Rather than paying to have your used cooking oil pumped and dumped, you can actually make money by recycling it with a company that will turn it into biodiesel fuel.
  • Dry Wipe Cookware and Dishes Before Cleaning – Using this method before rinsing in the sink or loading it into the dishwasher reduces the amount of grease entering the trap, which leads to less frequent cleanings.
  • Use Strainers in Drains – Solid food can cause problems in pipes in the same way FOG can. Strainers reduce the risk of solid food and solidified grease getting stuck in pipes, and it’s easier to remove these solids from strainers before they make their way into grease interceptors.
  • Don’t Pour Grease Down Sinks or Toilets – Avoid putting grease directly down sink drains or down toilets when possible. This keeps grease out of your internal plumbing and may also reduce the frequency of cleaning.
  • Cover Outdoor Grease Containers – If you store your grease containers outside, be sure to cover them. Uncovered containers can fill with rainwater and overflow, sending fats, greases, and oils into storm drains.

Using Bacterial Cleaners to Maintain a Clean Grease Trap

     Biological cleaners are a safe choice for commercial kitchens and restaurants concerned about using harsh chemicals and cross-contamination. There are many enzyme-based cleaners on the market today, but unfortunately, they only liquefy FOG, allowing it to flow downstream where it can resolidify, often in an outgrowing pipe. Bacterial cleaners, on the other hand, are extremely effective at degrading FOG in grease traps. Rather than liquefying the waste, they completely digest it, converting it to water and carbon dioxide that can freely flow through pipes and into the sewer line.

     Because bacterial cleaners completely digest fats, oils, and greases, they won’t accumulate as quickly. Foul odors from rancid FOG are reduced, and pumping may be needed less frequently as well. With regular use of bacterial cleaners, your grease trap will work more effectively, too, resulting in fewer clogs and backups.

Cleaning Commercial Grease Traps

     When a grease trap isn’t cleaned regularly, it can cause a variety of issues for your commercial kitchen or restaurant, from foul odors that can make their way into the dining area to slow drainage in sinks and toilets. Don’t wait until a problem arises to clean and maintain your grease trap. Use the ¼ rule to determine when to clean it. If you find that you are cleaning your grease trap more frequently than you’d like, you may want to size up, but don’t wait longer than 90 days to clean your grease traps either. A bacterial cleaner can decrease the frequency of cleanings and help to eliminate odors. Regular use will help to maintain a clean grease trap and a productive kitchen.

The Best Way to Maintain Your Septic Tank

If you have a septic tank, you’ve probably heard about the high costs to replace your system, and maybe you’ve even experienced some expensive repairs yourself. Rather than waiting until your system fails and costs start to add up, however, focus on maintaining your septic tank to avoid repairs. Read on to learn more about the best ways to maintain your septic tank.

Septic Tank Misconceptions

Misconception #1: Septic Tanks Take Care of Themselves

     In a perfect environment, with best practices in use, it’s true that septic tanks can work well with less frequent intervention. However, even the smallest change to the environment of your septic tank can throw off the bacterial balance, and good habits can be hard to keep one hundred percent of the time. For this reason, regular maintenance and pumping of your septic tank are essential to extending the lifespan of your system and reducing the need for major repairs.

Misconception #2: It Doesn’t Matter What Goes Down the Drain

     In order to break down waste effectively, septic tanks need a natural balance of microbes and enzymes. When harsh chemicals like drain cleaners, solvents, and disinfectants make their way into the tank, these valuable microbes are killed off, which means waste is not properly eliminated and clogs are more likely to occur. Other waste, like grease and certain paper products, can create issues as well. Rather than flushing these items, consider using the trash, and limit what goes down the drain to wastewater and sewage.

Misconception #3: Clogged Septic Tanks Need to be Replaced

     It’s always better to prevent a clog than to repair it, but a clogged septic system doesn’t necessarily need to be replaced. Jetting is the process of installing access ports to the ends of inlet lines and using pressure to clear the lines. Having your system pumped and jetted by a septic tank technician helps to clear clogs and prevents the need for more costly repairs or replacement.

Misconception #4: Septic Systems Don’t Last Longer than 20 Years

     There is no set lifespan for your septic tank. Instead, how the system is treated and maintained determines how long it will last. In fact, a well-maintained system can last well over 20 years! To keep your septic tank running well into the future, control what goes down the drain, pump and jet regularly, and keep roots from growing into the lines.

Misconception #5: Only Enzyme-Based Products Work for Septic Tank Maintenance

     Biological cleaners are not only better for the environment than harsh chemicals, they often work better too. Enzyme-based cleaners have been a popular choice for years, but they may not be the most effective green cleaner for septic systems and drains. While they act fast to break down fats, oils, and greases (FOG), they only liquefy the waste. The liquid waste may make its way further down the pipes, but it could solidify again, causing yet another clog. Consider using a bacterial cleaner instead. Rather than liquifying FOG, bacterial cleaners completely digest it, reducing the risk of clogs in tanks or leach beds..

The Cost of Repairing or Replacing a Septic Tank

     According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost of a septic tank repair is $1,732, which is certainly less than the cost to replace it, but maybe avoidable with the right home habits, and even some DIY solutions. For example, bacteria may need to be added to your system to break down the waste. A septic repair company may charge between $400 and $600 for this, but you can purchase a bacteria-based cleaner and add it to your system for significantly less. The average costs of some other common septic repairs are:

  • Responding to Call-$200
  • Baffle repair-$300-$900
  • Pump repair-$400
  • Line repair-$1,100-$4,200

     When it comes to replacing your septic system, the costs can add up quickly. The tank itself will run anywhere from $600-$4,000, according to HomeAdvisor.com. Then you’ll need to pay for additional items like gravel, fill dirt, and topsoil, which can cost up to $1,000 on average. Depending on the building codes for your state, you may also need a licensed plumber, in addition to your septic installer, to ensure the pipes are connected properly.

How to Keep Your Septic Tank Healthy

    Repair and replacement costs may be high, but fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep your septic tank functioning properly. Forming these good habits today will help your septic tank working for years to come. They include:

Pumping your Septic Tank Regularly

     People often wait until major problems arise to think about pumping their septic tank. While the right bacterial cleaner can help keep scum and gunk to a minimum, the levels will naturally rise after a few years, and more frequently if harsh chemicals are used. Yearly inspections of your septic tank are highly recommended. If scum and gunk have risen too close to an outlet drain, the tank should be pumped. If not, it could flow into leach fields and create additional, and often more costly, problems.

Think about what you Put Down the Drain

     When it comes to septic tanks, it’s not out of sight out of mind. Everything that gets flushed down the toilet will end up in your tank and eventually your leach field. While toilet paper is designed to break down in your septic tank, other paper products, including paper towels and even wet wipes advertised as flushable, can wreak havoc on your septic system in a short amount of time. Avoid certain food items as well. Grease, for example, can solidify and cause clogs, and even coffee grounds can resist break down in the tank.

Use Bacteria-Based Additives Instead of Harsh Chemicals

     Your septic tank relies on bacteria and microbes to break down waste. When harsh chemicals and cleaners are used, you can not only do damage to your pipes, you can also throw off the natural pH balance of the tank. The bacterial additives available today are just as effective at unclogging drains as the harsh chemicals, without the consequences. Using a bacteria-based cleaner will help your entire septic system to work at peak performance

Maintaining your Septic Tank

    Even if you don’t think about your septic tank on a daily basis, it’s constantly performing a critical job for your home or business. Because your septic tank is an essential part of your daily life, it’s important to maintain it. Be sure to pump your septic tank regularly, at least once every few years or more frequently if scum and gunk rise to the level of your outlet drain. Consider what goes down your drain as well. Use septic-safe toilet paper and avoid flushing paper towels and wet wipes, even if they are advertised as flushable. Finally, swap your harsh chemicals for bacteria-based additives to help support the natural balance of your septic tank. These best practices will ensure that your septic tank works for years to come.

Enzyme vs. Bacterial Drain Cleaners: The Difference Explained

Bacteria Floating Around

     An effective drain cleaner is a necessary part of any drain or septic maintenance routine. If you’ve been using a chemical cleaner, you may be wondering if there’s a more environmentally friendly product, and more importantly, if it’s as effective as your current brand. Fortunately, a variety of biological drain cleaners are now widely available, but which one is right for your home or business?

Using Biological Cleaners

     There’s no shortage of chemical drain cleaners on the market today, but biological cleaners are gaining popularity and with good reason. Once thought to be less powerful than their caustic counterparts, biological cleaners have been shown to clear drains—and keep them clear—just as effectively. Some even cost less than brands made with harsh chemicals.

     Chemical cleaners, on the other hand, have been known to cause cracks in pipes that eventually lead to large leaks. Because they are made of natural products, biological drain cleaners won’t damage your pipes, even after repeated use. In restaurants and other settings where fats, oils, and greases (or FOG) is present in drain pipes, these all-natural cleaners are safe to use as often as needed to maintain a clear drain line. Biological drain cleaners are also safe to use around humans and pets, even in sinks! They won’t leach chemicals back into the water supply, either. However, not all biological drain cleaners are created equal.

Enzyme Drain Cleaners

     One common type of biological drain cleaner is enzyme-based. These non-living organic compounds are safe to use in homes, commercial kitchens, and other businesses regardless of pipe age or material. Enzyme drain cleaners are fast-acting and can get to work right away breaking down fats, oils, and greases. Rather than fully digesting FOG, however, enzymes simply liquefy it, allowing it to continue through your pipes and drainage system where it could possibly solidify again, causing additional problems or clogs. In fact, some municipal water treatment systems have prohibited the use of enzyme drain cleaners, and they may not be suitable for some septic systems.

     Because enzyme cleaners are non-living, they won’t reproduce, so more of the product is needed than bacterial cleaners, and more frequent treatments as well. Enzyme cleaners are also difficult to manufacture. These characteristics typically make enzyme cleaners more expensive than bacterial cleaners. In addition, different enzymes target different types of waste. Some, for example, attack FOG while others attack protein or starches. The cleaner can only be effective if it’s targeted toward the waste in your drainage system. Some research may be necessary to select the right type of enzyme drain cleaner for the unique needs of your home or business.

Bacterial Drain Cleaners

     Like enzyme drain cleaners, bacterial cleaners are all-natural and safe to use around humans and pets. They can also be used in pipes without concern for cracks or leaks over time. Bacterial cleaners can survive in a wide range of temperatures and pH levels as well, and they actually help to maintain a healthy, natural pH balance in drainage or septic systems.  Because bacteria reproduce at very high rates, less product is required to clear a drain, and treatments may be needed with less frequency.

     Bacteria actually release their own enzymes and can detect the type of waste present in order to release the correct enzymes to attack it. However, unlike enzyme drain cleaners that only liquefy FOG, bacterial drain cleaners will actually fully digest any fats, oils, and greases that may be in your drainage system, resulting in fewer clogs down the line. This makes bacterial drain cleaners a safe and effective option for septic systems as well.

Choosing the Right Drain Cleaner for your Home or Business

     Drain maintenance is an important part of any drainage or septic system. When safety and environment are a concern, the best choice is a biological drain cleaner. Both enzyme drain cleaners and bacterial drain cleaners provide safe, all-natural drain cleaning solutions for your home or business. However, one major drawback of enzyme cleaners is that they only liquefy the fats, oils, and greases found in your drains. While the liquified FOG can then freely move down the drain line, it may solidify again, causing additional clogs later on. Because bacterial cleaners fully digest FOG, they are not only safe but highly effective as well.

The Meaning of the EPA Safer Choice Program Logo

EPA SaferChoice logoWith 85% of businesses creating sustainability initiatives, and consumers showing increased interest in environmental matters, environmental conscious products are increasingly in demand. In fact, surveys show that a product’s environmental impact is an important factor considered by   consumers in making their buying decisions.

The U.S. EPA Safer Choice Program parallels worldwide interest in environmental safety and sustainability. The purpose of this program is to help identify and develop environmentally safer products.

Once a product passes the specifications of that program, the EPA allows the display of the Safer Choice logo. This logo “allows consumers to quickly identify and choose products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families.”

In order to pass EPA Safer Choice requirements, a product must undergo a rigorous review by the EPA and a third party scientific review team. This team carefully screens each ingredient for any potential human health and environmental effects. The team reviews not only the ingredient, but its chemical structure, to see how it could impact the environment and people.

Only products that are made of the safest possible ingredients are eligible for approval. BioOne has passed the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Program’s criteria and proudly displays the Safer Choice logo in recognition of its positive effect on human health and the environment.

Commercial Lift Station Before & After Treatment

Lift Station Before Treatment

lift station before treatment
Day 1 of Treatment at a lift station outside of Bradenton, FL located outside of a food court of a major shopping mall. On day 1 BioOne® was added via an AIS System and the perimeter was sprayed with BioOne.

Lift Station After Treatment

lift station after treatment
Day 30 of Treatment

How BioOne Works in Septic Systems

drain field septic systemSeptic systems require live bacteria to consume, digest, and degrade grease, oil, and other organic matter so that proper functioning can be maintained. When a septic system is properly maintained, the connected drain field can also function according to design.

Subjected to bleaches, detergents, and other chemicals, naturally occurring bacteria struggle to survive and keep up with the influx of waste in residential and commercial septic systems.

Liquid BioOne is formulated to work in the harsh conditions of septic systems. BioOne requires no pH neutralizing and is performance ready. BioOne contains no added enzymes or other emulsifying agents which only liquefy solid waste. BioOne’s bacteria eat and digest the solid waste without the unbalanced action of enzymes or surfactants.

The most effective way to maintain a septic system is to inoculate the tank with BioOne immediately after pumping.

After your septic system has been pumped: Your technician will add BioOne directly into the clean tank.

To properly maintain your septic system: Between pumping, follow the instructions on the label of the 64 oz. BioOne that your technician has left with you.

For additional information on Aqua Pro, check out our RateItGreen profile located here.

Commercial Restaurant Problems from Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG)

fats and oils

Backed Up Drains

  • Expensive Slip and Falls
  • Potential Worker’s Compensation Claims
  • Emergency Pumping
  • Health Code Violations
  • Business Interruptions
  • Unsanitary Conditions

Offensive Odors

  • Unappetizing
  • Decreased Customer Traffic
  • Bad Advertising
  • Poor Work Environment

Drain Flies

  • Gives Impression of Poor Housekeeping and Lack of Hygiene
  • Annoying to Customers

Municipal Fines and Charges

 

Residential Drain Field Rejuvenation with BioOne

drain fieldResidential drain fields are designed to allow the discharged water to percolate through the biomat. Drain fields fail for several reasons:

  1. Hydraulic overload (too much water being released into the septic tank and then discharged into the drain field)
  2. Organic overload (too much non-degraded grease, oil, and organic matter)
  3. Chemical overload (excessive chemicals destroy the bacteria necessary for degrading waste)
  4. Faulty design or installation

For best results, pump septic tank and add 2.5 gallons of liquid BioOne directly into the septic tank. Adding another 2.5 gallons of liquid BioOne for every 400 square feet of drain field through the distribution box and or header pipe is also strongly advised. Continue treatment by following the recommended dosing parameters.

commercial drain and grease trap maintenancebioone septic tank drain maintenance

For completely failed drain fields, the most immediate results will be obtained when liquid BioOne dosing is coupled with soil fracturing.

Commercial Markets for the BioOne Auto-Dispensing System

restaurants

  • On-site Wastewater Systems
  • Quick-Service Restaurants
  • Hotels and Motels
  • Family Restaurants
  • Specialty Bakeries
  • Nursing Homes
  • Schools

 

hospitals

  • Hospitals
  • Jails and Prisons
  • MRI Facilities
  • Medical Labs
  • Photo Labs

 

theatres

  • Apartment and Condominium Complexes
  • Auto Garages
  • Cruise Ships
  • Life Stations
  • Supermarkets
  • Airports
  • Malls
  • Movie Theaters
  • Exhibition Halls
  • RV and Trailer Parks