Author Topic: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"  (Read 4760 times)

Offline lovetoreadmom

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Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« on: April 03, 2008, 04:56:22 AM »
If there is a thread on this, please let me know b/c I looked and all I could find was info on dish soap and laundry detergent.

Anyway, DH asked me to find out about how often a septic tank should be cleaned out or serviced (ooh, that just sounds so gross), and I thought I would check w/ you all first.  We flush Ridex (sp?) in periodically (I almost said "in spurts," but then I realized how that sounded and now I can't stop laughing  :D :D), but probably not as faithfully as we should.

Any recommendations??  Or please point me to the right thread.  Thanks!
Wife to Ron for 8 years (on 7.13.10 :)), and Mama to DS 6yo, DD 3-1/2yo, and DS 19mo! . . . and DD#2 due in August, 2010.


Offline blessedmama

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2008, 05:05:19 AM »
I would like to know as well.  We were told we don't have to put ridex down the drain, but I have heard of people adding yeast?  That doesn't even make sense as it's not warm water down there.  Anyway we don't do anything to ours and it was cleaned out when we first moved in and it's been 3.5 years that we've lived here.  I know it depends on the size of the family as to how often it should be pumped but I have a hard time "trusting" someone who's on the money making end of it.  KWIM?
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Offline lovetoreadmom

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2008, 05:20:35 AM »
I know it depends on the size of the family as to how often it should be pumped but I have a hard time "trusting" someone who's on the money making end of it.  KWIM?

That's what both DH and I are thinking also.  We've lived here 5-1/2 years (we built the house), and so it's never been emptied.

Wife to Ron for 8 years (on 7.13.10 :)), and Mama to DS 6yo, DD 3-1/2yo, and DS 19mo! . . . and DD#2 due in August, 2010.


Offline blsd2bhome

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2008, 05:43:55 AM »
Maybe someone over at Urban Exodus could help you?  They talk all about that stuff over there!  Your username and password is the same over there as on here, I think!

http://www.urbanexod.us/discuss/index.php?action=forum

Just my 2 cents, but I thought septics were supposed to take care of themselves?  Like a natural drain field?  Only chemicals disturb the natural process, and most have to be pumped because people just pour whatever they want down the drains? :P :-X
Not meaning that you do, but the majority, that is why they have to be pumped, because they do not do what they are supposed to (decompose naturally). 
My dh always thought it was just a 'holding tank' until I did some research, but I am not saying I know alot about it, or am an expert or anything!
Good luck over at UE !
(Now you have made me curious, I may have to do more research again!)

blsd2bhome

Offline SarahK

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2008, 06:53:12 AM »
This was a helpful guide to us when we had a new septic system & drain field put in.  There is more info that just when to pump the septic tank.

U of M Extension Service: Septic System Owner's Guide
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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2008, 09:56:30 AM »
A packet of yeast mixed with hot water till dissolved.  Or 2 1/4 teaspoon.  Pour in a toilet and flush, once a month.  So says my retired plumber cousin.  We have been doing that for 5 years.  I mark it on my calender.  Every 15th of each month, we feed our poop  :P.  Think of it like a little pet you only have to feed once a month.   ;D  Sonny (my cousin, who was a plumber for many decades, I think) says if people would just do this regularly, they can greatly reduce any need for service.

Offline ~CKMom~

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2008, 10:00:28 AM »
So, could you just put up a reminder on the 15th of every month for all of us with septic tanks, saying something like "Don't forget to feed Sludge today!"?   ::)

Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2008, 03:35:34 PM »
Hi guys...my dh is a septic inspector/designer/installer. So, I asked him... Here is what he says:

Tanks should be pumped about every three years. Depending on soil this may be sooner.

Do not add anything to your tank. Just avoid chemicals such as bleach.

Do not use powder laundry soap or dishwasher soap. This will clog the septic (drainfields clogg sooner with this).

That's about it. He says there is no need to add anything to it. The companies just are out to make $$$. CJ

Any more questions? Just ask and I will ask him.  ;D I was so excited to tell him he could contribute to WTM!

Offline lovetoreadmom

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2008, 04:37:39 PM »
So, could you just put up a reminder on the 15th of every month for all of us with septic tanks, saying something like "Don't forget to feed Sludge today!"?   ::)

ROTFLOL!  That would be so GREAT!  What yeast should I use??

Hi guys...my dh is a septic inspector/designer/installer. So, I asked him... Here is what he says:

Tanks should be pumped about every three years. Depending on soil this may be sooner.

Do not add anything to your tank. Just avoid chemicals such as bleach.

Do not use powder laundry soap or dishwasher soap. This will clog the septic (drainfields clogg sooner with this).

That's about it. He says there is no need to add anything to it. The companies just are out to make $$$. CJ

Any more questions? Just ask and I will ask him.  ;D I was so excited to tell him he could contribute to WTM!

Great (sarcasm) . . I have both powdered laundry and dish soap.  I was always told it was better for my clothes and dishes.  I guess I'm learning more.  Anyway, do you thing the yeast thing is okay, as I would rather do that than have someone come and tear up our beautiful yard that DH works so hard to make nice (he has spent a lot of $$ on the yard and doesn't want it torn up if it can be avoided?.  Also, what then is best for cleaning all the way around.  I use bleach for some things (whites in laundry, mildew build-up in "tight" places), but I use it sparingly.  Is it bad to use it at all?   ???
Wife to Ron for 8 years (on 7.13.10 :)), and Mama to DS 6yo, DD 3-1/2yo, and DS 19mo! . . . and DD#2 due in August, 2010.


Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2008, 03:51:43 AM »
He thought the yeast thing was a bit silly actually. He said that there is enough good bacteria in there eating the stuff up.

As to bleach, I do a load of belaching about once a month to every other month. (Boys and socks....) No issuse yet (and we don't pump our tank as we should). If you use it sparingly then that is fine. We know people who use it ALL the time...in each batch of dishes they wash to clean everything in the house...they are sick a lot too, and I wonder if the good bacteria is all gone, eh?

Powder wise, my dh has been called on many inspections where the septic is failing and is considered an immenent public health risk....sewage is on top of the ground etc. A lot are from the drainage area (be it drainfield or mound) being clogged and the sewage needing to find a way out. A lot of the people use powders, which once they dry...they turn back to powder.

On pumping the tank. You can measure from your driveway or road to the tank access. You can call the pumper and ask if they have a hose that long because of your yard. The tank will be close to the house, but usually not within 50 feet of the well. Some companies MAY have a long hose. I am not sure what the length would be that is normal though.

My dh said that adding stuff (like yeast and the stuff that people try to sell you) will not lesson the need to have the tank pumped. CJ

Offline lovetoreadmom

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2008, 05:24:27 AM »
As to bleach, I do a load of belaching about once a month to every other month. (Boys and socks....) No issuse yet (and we don't pump our tank as we should). If you use it sparingly then that is fine. We know people who use it ALL the time...in each batch of dishes they wash to clean everything in the house...they are sick a lot too, and I wonder if the good bacteria is all gone, eh?

I only use it for whites, towels occasionally if they are smelling mildew-y, and if I find mold or mildew stains in other places (I have a spray bottle for this, which is 1 teaspoon of bleach to 2 cups of water).  I think I'm okay in this department.

Powder wise, my dh has been called on many inspections where the septic is failing and is considered an immenent public health risk....sewage is on top of the ground etc. A lot are from the drainage area (be it drainfield or mound) being clogged and the sewage needing to find a way out. A lot of the people use powders, which once they dry...they turn back to powder.

My mom always taught me to start every load of laundry w/ warm water to dissolve the soap.  This has been my regular ritual for forever.  I don't use regular store-bought brands - I order it online.  Anyway, does it not really dissolve??  I have always used powder and it hasn't seemed to be a problem.

Thanks for the help!
Wife to Ron for 8 years (on 7.13.10 :)), and Mama to DS 6yo, DD 3-1/2yo, and DS 19mo! . . . and DD#2 due in August, 2010.


Offline mhoward1999

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2008, 06:35:34 AM »
I am 31 years old, and except for the three years I lived on campus in college, I have lived in a house that used a septic tank. The only time I've ever had a tank need to be pumped was while we were living in a rental. It was a duplex, where they had two households going into one small tank. The pump truck guy told us that tank was not even large enough for one standard household. A septic tank should be like it's own little ecosystem, with the bacteria consuming all the solid waste, and the liquid going out the field(lateral) lines. I do acknowledge that sometimes people have to get their tanks pumped, but it is due to either a physical defect in their system such as broken/collapsed pipes, or else mistreatment of their system through the addition of excess chemicals (and even too much water sometimes [We try to do a load of laundry a day, instead of waiting until Saturday and doing several loads in one day- it's easier on the system, more like a steady diet versus a binge.]) to their system. A properly designed and well cared for septic tank should never need to be pumped. Of course, that is contingent upon the homeowner not abusing it with chemicals that can kill off the beneficial bacteria.

Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2008, 06:53:36 AM »
Not only that, but with newer designs forced by forces that will remain nameless, septics are now designed TO be pumped every three years. In fact, in out state, MN, they are trying to pass a low to force all with spetics to pump every three years and submit proof to the county. We have not had ours pumped in years, but since my husband put it in and he is an inspector/designer/installer, he is really picky about what we do with it.

About powder, Take some of your laundry soap and put it in a tupperware or glass bowl Fill it with warm water and disolve the soap. Let it sit until it evaporates....this will show you want happens. The water goes into the tank. When it reaches a certain level (for gravity fed) the water will run into the drainfield pipes. If you have a mound it will be pumped out by a pump at set times each day (run 15 minutes, stop for 30). The liquid will be pushed into the pipes of the mound.

The water flows through holes in the pipes, being forced through crushed rock, or in the newer case, packing peanuts type things that do not disolve. Particles get trapped in the rocks/peanuts. The particles dry out and as more go by they make a big particle and become caked in that spot, so stuff has to go through another area. This happens over and over until all the holes are clogged and the system fails.

In the tank the solids sludge together and break down over time, becoming liquid. It is then passed through the pipes, but if the pipes are clogged the tank will back up, causing a back up in your house, or the sewage to get out of the tank another way and pool on top of the ground.

With so many people not understanding that the use of cleaners and bleach, etc harms their septic, many states and counties are forcing people to pump. My husband recommends pumping every 3 yrs, though we never have the $ for it.  ;) It is worth it in the long run, as a septic runs $10,000 for the cheapest. Materials coming in at about $8,000 even if you were to do it yourself. Pumping your tank every 3 yrs (at abour $150 each time) seems a small price to pay compared to a whole new septic. CJ

Offline lovetoreadmom

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2008, 07:22:09 AM »
I'm so sorry I just ate lunch b/f reading the last two posts.  Oh well, my own fault.   :P   :)  Anyway, thanks for the info. 

I guess I'm curious about the science of it also, so I hope I don't sound too ignorant when I ask this question, but what are the "good" bacteria that are working in the tank to "eat up" the all the bad stuff?  I know my sister told me a few years back not to use anti-bacterial soap b/c it's bad for a septic (and that makes sense), but I've always wondered what was down there that is "good" to do the job.
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Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2008, 08:43:09 AM »
When you use the bathroom, some good bacteria comes out too. I suppose bad bacteria is ok in a septic too...not sure on that. Anyway, different bacterias break different things down. The bacteria expelled from our bodies helps to "eat up" solids. It helps the solids decompose to become liquids.

You know how a banana sits on the counter and starts to turn black, so of course your kids won't eat it, even though it is still good. So you forget about it in day to day things and pretty soon you pcik it up, due to fruit flies flying all around in your kitchen buggin you, and as you pick it up you notice that there a watery-ish brown liquid seeping out of it. This is its decomposing process.

A tank needs the enzymes/bacteria to decompose the things put into it. Garbage disposals (yes, we have one...you need a bigger tank if you are going to have one), toilets, washers with kids clothing in them (boys and their pockets)....all these things send stuff into the septic that needs to be broken down.

Oh, also, we have had issues with one lady in particular. Each septic is designed according to the number of bedrooms you have, if you have a garbage disposal, and if you have a large bathtub or not. This one lady uses only 40 gallons per week. Now, that sounds nice, but her septic is designed to have 400 gallons A DAY run through it. It does not matter that she lives along, she has a big house and there are sepcifications for house sizes, soil types, etc. For 3 yrs we had to go thaw her septic for her and each spring had to fix it because she refused to up her usage. Water flowing through the septic each day keeps it from freezing in the winter (out of a hundred septics, this is the only one we have ever had issues with) and keeps the bacteria hydrated (instead of drying and shriveling) so it can work. Her septic froze and clogged. It was under warrenty so my dh worked on it for free, until the county got involved. The county realized she was not using enough water and insisted that if she not use more water or follow the instructions of the installer (dh) then they must pay the county for an engineer to come and put special things in...bunch of foolishness it seemed...and we never heard from that lady again, nor did the county!

Septics are made to be used. They NEED that water flow. You can check into how much water usuage a day your septic is meant to have. If it is newly designed and installed the installer will know or the county will have record. HOWEVER, do not go to your county if you think you may be in need of a new spetic. You don't want that added expense until you have the $ for it.

Here we have POS inspections. EVERY house with a septic must have it inspected BEFORE it is sold. Some realtors make you do it before (the good ones do this) so you know what to expect (will the house needing a new septic effect the sale price?) and such. If you call an inspector to come and look (here an inspection is $250) and your system fails, the inspector BY LAW must inform the county. Otherwise he will lose his license. Also, there are different levels of compliance. I mentioned before the Imminent Public Health Threat. With that one, the spetic must be fixed within 10 days (fixed means a new one installed) or you have to move out until it is installed!

If you have a Non-Compliant system, there are different levels, the most frequent one is one where you have 2 yrs to install a new spetic. Very few comply with the new laws....

There are really neat septics out there too. There is one that is considered "experimental" that people on tiny lots on lakes can use. Most these tiny lots are too small for a septic. This one neat one is a tank (maybe a type of plastic? Not sure, we usually use concrete) that is filled with Peat Moss in a way that waste flows thorugh it. They say that the peat moss is a natural purifier and claim that you can DRINK the water that comes out! The demonstrations are REALLY slick! Our county is really slow at approving new things, so not too many have been used here, if any. We are a bit behind the other counties, but at the septic meets we see loads of neat stuff.

CJ

Offline daisey

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2008, 09:08:33 AM »
Does the no powder rule apply to Baking Soda?   I use that in the dishwasher and as a cleanser.   
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Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2008, 02:09:21 PM »
I am still trying to figure that one out.... ::) CJ

Offline mhoward1999

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2008, 02:42:05 PM »
Oh, also, we have had issues with one lady in particular. Each septic is designed according to the number of bedrooms you have, if you have a garbage disposal, and if you have a large bathtub or not. This one lady uses only 40 gallons per week. Now, that sounds nice, but her septic is designed to have 400 gallons A DAY run through it. It does not matter that she lives along, she has a big house and there are sepcifications for house sizes, soil types, etc. For 3 yrs we had to go thaw her septic for her and each spring had to fix it because she refused to up her usage. Water flowing through the septic each day keeps it from freezing in the winter (out of a hundred septics, this is the only one we have ever had issues with) and keeps the bacteria hydrated (instead of drying and shriveling) so it can work. Her septic froze and clogged. It was under warrenty so my dh worked on it for free, until the county got involved. The county realized she was not using enough water and insisted that if she not use more water or follow the instructions of the installer (dh) then they must pay the county for an engineer to come and put special things in...bunch of foolishness it seemed...and we never heard from that lady again, nor did the county!
That's a very interesting situation! I have never heard of such a thing, but it makes sense!

Septics are made to be used. They NEED that water flow.
I understand and agree that they need water. However, I am of the opinion that it is better for the system if it's a regular supply, instead of going in spurts. I work four jobs, and so I am bad about letting housework go until the weekend, and then cramming it in on Saturday. This means a load or two through the dishwasher, and about five loads through the clothes washer all in one day.  It just seems logical to me that it would be better to distribute one's usage evenly. My dad actually routed our plumbing in our house so that all the "gray water" (everything but the toilet) went to a seperate place from the tank because of problems with the tank. This solved the problem. Maybe our tank wasn't big enough. ??? I have heard of folks doing this and using the gray water to feed a rain garden that also happens to be beneficial to the environment and a beautiful addition to the yard.

Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2008, 03:28:59 PM »
yeah, the problem could have been that the system was not big enough for your water usuage. Also, you are right, running water once a week and all day long would be bad. like watering a plant once a month...the dirt is dry and won't absorb the water like it should so the water floods.

What a FUN conversation, eh?

Offline mhoward1999

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2008, 03:22:02 AM »
...running water once a week and all day long would be bad. like watering a plant once a month...the dirt is dry and won't absorb the water like it should so the water floods.

What a FUN conversation, eh?

No kidding! LOL! I never would have dreamed I'd be having this kind of discussion. :D

Offline lovetoreadmom

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2008, 11:22:43 AM »
...running water once a week and all day long would be bad. like watering a plant once a month...the dirt is dry and won't absorb the water like it should so the water floods.

What a FUN conversation, eh?

No kidding! LOL! I never would have dreamed I'd be having this kind of discussion. :D

I run the dishwasher only once a week (Sunday night after we've gone to bed), and I usually do a load of laundry about every day.  We are also pretty regular about going to the bathroom, so I think we're ok in both areas of regular usage and "good" bacteria.

Is the only way to know for sure to have it opened and checked?  If so, Siege, your DH needs to invent a tank that can be checked above ground.  He could patent it, and you all would be set for life.   :) ;) :D
Wife to Ron for 8 years (on 7.13.10 :)), and Mama to DS 6yo, DD 3-1/2yo, and DS 19mo! . . . and DD#2 due in August, 2010.


Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2008, 11:40:28 AM »
The tank lids should be marked, and there are these little tubes of white PVC that stick up a tiny bit that are hidden in the grass that an inspector can look into. Here is one way an inspection is done (we don't use the dye ourselves, though some do):

The inspector puts dye tablets into the toilet and flushes it. He then does diggings around the spetic to see what type of soil and the consistency. Then he takes an underwater camera (we just do this part without the dye) and looks into the tank for cracks in the tank (or to see if the dye came through if he uses dye) and blockages. The tanks are not that hard to open, and shouldn't be opened too often anyway.

I run my dishwasher 2 or 3 times a day! Every now and then a day goes by with it not being run at all but that is RARE! I NEVER do dishes if I can help it. Call me lazy, but.....CJ

Offline momof6

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2008, 03:10:47 PM »
What exactly qualifies as a public health threat?  Our neighbors have a sand mound which has been spewing (well, more like seeping/oozing, but sometimes you can watch the stuff come out) for almost 2 years.  It is really disgusting, and our garden is pretty close!  They're not real friendly people, so we haven't talked to them about it, although we've been pretty concerned!  We considered reporting it, but we don't know to whom, and also we aren't sure if it IS a health threat.  It certainly would hinder us ever selling this house if they don't fix it!  Does anyone have any wisdom for us??? 
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Offline Siege

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2008, 04:25:35 PM »
If there is sewage coming from the ground, tank, mound, drainfield it is considered a public health threat. You know all these spinich recalls (workers not washing hands and such)? That is what would happen...human waste (especially someone elses) carries a lot of germs with it. Be careful in reporting. Make sure if you do that you specify that you want it to be anonimous. You would report to the county that you live in (or town...one will tell you).

Here is a reportig story. A renter (at our trailer court) was being evicted by my in-laws (they run the trailer court, we run the trucking company). When we first bought the property her son had been in a bad accident and we let her forgo some rent because he was hurt so bad. A year later she decided that she did not need to pay even the small amount that she was being charged ($100 a month). She got mad and decided to get even...

She called the county and claimed we were poisoning her (she gave my dh's name and not my fil, which is odd because we never had dealing with her, just my in laws did) and her children through the water (shared well for all the trailer and 2 houses). She claimed we were trying to kill her and that we were letting sewage just come out of each trailer onto the ground underneath the trailers! (Yeah, like my dh wants to lose his license by rigging his own property?!?!)

She made a lot of accusations and the county, along with 2 sherrif cars (2 deputies in all) show up. One of our employees called my dh's cell and said, "You better come here, there are some cops waiting for you."

Dh shows up, they look around, found a few things to change (battery was not on it's pallet, a scrap pile not yet hauled away...we had just bought it and it was FULL of junk and we were in the process of cleaning it up) and wrote a ticket. One of the deputies knew my fil and he explained that by law, even though he knew we were not doing what we were accused of doing (some things were SO far fetched it was comical), they had to come. They sat down to coffee and visited, looked under all 22 trailers for sewage. Inspected the well house (new well even) and left. The ticket was VERY expensive, but since dh was compliant and had the stuff cleaned up BEFORE the time period listed we never had to pay anything.

We finally figured out who it was after one of her kids started saying the off the wall things...very odd, poor kids.

Anyway, if you don't want them mad at you, make sure it is anonimous. CJ

Offline momof6

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2008, 03:13:22 AM »
Thanks, CJ.  These people are scary, and we want to keep a good testimony, but at the same time are concerned about health.  Last summer it was so swampy they couldn't even mow by it where it is running out....he tried once and got sewage flying, even on him, that he quit and had to wash himself and the mower!  They then tried to cover the area with big rocks.  That lasted a month or more, then he took them away.  Last summer we also had to confront them for moving the property pin and using our driveway!  They're just not real nice.  The lady esp.  Plus, her mother lives on the upper side of our property!  But, she was on our side about the pin and driveway.  Strange situation!  I'll let dh read what you posted and ask HIM to decide.  :)  Thanks again!
Sheri

"My hope is built on nothing less than JESUS' blood and righteousness"

www.mannapages.com/sherireimer

Offline Mrs. Davis

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2008, 10:07:25 AM »
Can you call someone in your county who would be in charge of that?  Maybe they could come and tell your neighbors that it was in need of repair/maintenance? 

Offline freshisbest

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Re: Septic Tanks: How often should they be "taken care of"
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2008, 12:01:45 PM »
Some states have laws that say you have to pump . I believe NY is one of them. We live in CT and from what I was told it is recommended every two years but not actually regulated. The laundry water is NOT good for the septic...one septic guy told me to limit the laundry loads to 2 per day. I had to laugh. Some days I don't do any laundry...I figure that makes up for the days I do several loads at a  time. I try to be midful of how many loads but the reality is , until I get a fancy low-water washer, I can't do more than that. But I use the home-made soap, never powdered; BS in the dishwasher; and limit the chemical cleaner to only very mild ones. We live in a rural area and you wouldn't necessarily know if the neighbors septic was acting up....trust me if it was I would call , if even annonymously, because that IS a health hazard. I'm pretty sure the local authorities would agree. If you ( or they) are renters, the landlord ends up responsible. We rented a house once and the first week the toilet backed up...turns out it was septic and the landlord said she " had no idea " the septic ever needed anything. She was happy to have it pumped.