Lynn D'Avolio
J. Barrett & Company | 801-597-2857 | lynn1@soldbylynn.com


Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 3/5/2019

If you’ve ever lived in the country, or even inside city limits but beyond the reach of the city’s sewer system, you may not know much about a septic system and how to take care of it. Just the idea that a home has a septic tank might scare you away and send you looking for a house with a sewer connection. The truth is, when properly cared for, a septic system can last for decades. And care for your system isn’t all that hard. Just remember a few basic rules.

How it works

A septic system uses bacteria and enzymes to breakdown solid waste that enters a large, typically watertight concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene tank. As the solid and liquid waste flows into the tank, the solids settle on the bottom to for “sludge” while the oils and grease float to the top to form “scum.” The wastewater (called “effluent”) flows out from between the sludge and the scum into a drain field (long, perforated pipes buried in gravel trenches spread across a large area) to be evaporated or percolate into the ground.

Inside the tank, bacteria break down the solid waste. To handle the scum, regularly adding enzymes designed for septic systems can break down the scum so that it becomes solid (to settle to the bottom) and liquid (to flow out to the drain field).

Installation

If your septic tank is not yet installed—that is, if you’re building on site in an area without a city sewer connection—make sure you apply for the proper permit. Officials from your county or city building department or health department most likely will need to perform a soil or percolation test (sometimes referred to as a perc test). They need to determine if the ground can support a septic system. In addition to the septic tank, septic systems need either a drainage field or a scum pond, so you need plenty of space for the system to work.

Septic system size varies depending on the size of the home and the number of bathrooms it has, so if you intend adding on to your home, or putting an apartment over the garage later, factor in a larger septic system.

Use common sense

Systems can be overloaded when too much water or waste enters the system without time for it to properly deal with the load. Excessive large loads of laundry and the same time as showers, toilets, and the dishwasher are in use, for example, might temporarily overload the system.

To reduce the load, use flow restrictors and aerators on faucets and showerheads, and use low-water, energy efficient equipment for clothes and dishes. Install efficient toilets as well to minimize the water flow, but don’t reduce the water too much, because solid waste needs water to properly function.

Do not park vehicles on the drain field and be careful not to build over the top of the pipes. Even a small storage shed can crush the pipes and damage your septic system.

Beware the disposal

In the kitchen, don’t use the disposal excessively for food waste since that taxes the septic system’s ability to break down the solids. Undigested food requires much more effort for the bacteria to break it down.

In the same way, do not pour grease and oils down the drain since these end up as scum. When either the scum layer or the sludge layer becomes too thick and cannot be broken down by the bacteria or the enzymes, your tank will need pumping. 

In that case, it’s time to call in a professional to pump out the tank and restore function to your system.




Tags: septic system   how to   plumbing  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 6/21/2016

There's more to lawn care than just cutting, watering, and fertilizing your grass. Even if you do these things correctly, your lawn will still build up compacted soil and lawn thatch (the un-decomposed stems and roots that tend to accumulate near the top of the soil). One of the best ways to address these issues is by aerating your lawn. If you've come here because your grass isn't growing as fully as it could be, you're in the right place. Whether this is your first time aerating or if you want to brush up on the proper technique, read on to learn how, when, and why to aerate your lawn.

What is aerating?

To grow healthily, the roots of your grass need to reach deep into the soil. When too much thatch builds up or your soil becomes too compacted, grass has a hard time taking root. Furthermore it becomes difficult to plant new seed or to get nutrients down to the roots of your grass. One do-it-yourself solution to this problem is aeration. Motorized aeration machines plug clumps of compacted soil and pull them out of your yard, allowing water, seed, and fertilizer to enter the soil to grow new, healthy grass.

When should you aerate your lawn?

The best time for aeration is during or just before peak grass-growing season in the spring. Warm weather and a lot of rain and sunshine all will help your newly aerated lawn grow quickly.

Steps of aeration

Here are the steps you should take for aerating your lawn:
  1. The day before aeration rake your yard and clean up anything that might be in your grass (pet toys, garden hoses, etc.)
  2. Water your yard heavily to make the soil moist. If you own an aerator, you can wait until the day after heavy rainfall. If you're renting one, just make sure the soil is wet enough to soften and plug
  3. Use the aerator on your entire lawn, avoiding things like irrigation systems. Then make a second pass with the aerator
  4. You can leave the excavated plugs on your lawn to dry up and decompose
  5. Once aerated, spread compost or peat moss over the yard to prevent further soil compaction

Aeration tips

There are many myths about lawn aeration. Some people argue that you don't need to plug the soil, but rather just spiking the lawn will suffice. Unfortunately, spiking the lawn won't do much to break down thatch and might even further compact your soil (think walking on your lawn with baseball cleats on). Another myth involving aeration is that leaving grass clippings on your lawn will cause thatch to build up quickly. This is also false. Grass clippings are mostly water and will decompose, adding nitrogen to your soil. This could save you money on having to buy fertilizer often. Another tip that will help you maximize the benefit of aeration is to avoid cutting your grass too short. Grass cut under two inches could be damaged or die. After you aerate, let your grass grow a few inches before cutting it, allowing your grass roots to take firm hold.