Boost septic

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by MN Mom, Mar 21, 2004.

  1. MN Mom

    MN Mom Well-Known Member

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    Just bought a house with septic and drain field. The place was rental property and not knowing the real history of the place I want to try and give the septic a boost. What recipe would you use for yeast culture? Would you use bread yeast or wine yeast? Down the toilet, sink or straight into tank?

    Thanks :worship:
     
  2. horselogger

    horselogger Well-Known Member

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    pump the tank. Don't mess with the bacteria since they know what to do by themselves. If that doesn't solve all the problems ,then prepare to spend a lot of money!!!
     

  3. henny

    henny Guest

    I second the other suggestion...Get the septic pumped and inspected by a reputable company. It will prolong the life of your system and let you know if it needs any repairs, etc. Much better to pump now, then to get a midnight surprise.

    BTW everything I have read from the Ag Extension office and septic experts says that treating your septic system with additives doesn't help it and could very well hurt it. The best thing you can do is to try to use less paper and keep paper towels, etc out of the toilet.

    henny
     
  4. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Do as horselogger suggests.....it could prove to be some of the best money that you spend. If circumstances do not permit, then read on the net how to evaluate the condition of the septic tank and open the inspection/cleanout ports and inspect the tank.
     
  5. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Try not to put anything in the septic tank which hasn't passed through the human body. Realistically it would also include regular sink and bath water. However, if you use a lot of bleach you might run the washer wash cycle water into a separate bucket and dispose of it around yard plants (so long as it doesn't burn the grass). Don't pour mop bucket water down the toilet or drain. Use outside instead.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  6. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    To prolong your septic tank, have it pumped every 3 years, avoid dumping any grease or animal fats down the drain, and if possible, eliminate or cut down on laundry detergent entry into the septic system.

    Items such as Rid-X and other so-called "miracle" septic additives are nothing but overpriced useless junk.
     
  7. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oops, I replied to you over on the outhouse hole thread before you started this one.

    Breifly, I agree with the rest - make a happy healthy septic system & pump it every so often (2-5 years for most folks, depends on size of tank & number of people using it) and _don't_ waste your money on additives. Can do more harm than good. It's just snake oil.

    Best thing for the septic is to just use it as it was intended - add poo & it'll be happy.

    Go real easy on the bleach & grease, think long & hard if antibactreial soaps are _really_ doing you a good thing, and don't pour anything harsh down the drain.

    Forget the additives. Waste of money.

    --->Paul
     
  8. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    I put a couple of tablespoons of bread yeast down the drain once a month. I started doing it after I read an article online about how people who bake bread regularly have fewer septic problems than others. It seems that the remnants of the dough that are washed from the bowl help repopulate one of the yeast strains in the septic. My mother noticed that whenever she had a septic smell in her house and did it, the smell went away almost immediately. My aunt has done it for years and she claims she has never had to pump her tank.
    I figure it doesn't hurt anything, yeast is cheap at Sam's club. But it's no substitute for routine maintenance, and it's a nice feeling to know what you're dealing with.
     
  9. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    The average temp in a Minnesota septic tank is about 50F or less. Yeast isn;t gonna do anything at those cold temps. About all that yeast does is convert simple sugars to CO2. There's not much sugar in a spetic tank, mostly fats, complex carbohydrates and protein.

    Do what the rest have suggested, get the tank pumped.
     
  10. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    It's true that yeast multiply slower at lower temperatures, but it will. Those of us who make artisan breads "retard" the dough by refrigerating it at a temperature of minimum 35 degrees and maximum of 42 degrees. While that temperature dramatically slows the process, it does rise, meaning the yeast is alive and working at temperatures below 50 degrees..

    BTW, alcohol is the other by-product of yeast fermentation, and nothing beats alcohol for dissolving grease. That's where I think the biggest benefit of yeast in the septic tank comes from.
     
  11. RAC

    RAC Guest

    How often you should pump a septic varies depending upon the size of the tank, and what you're putting down it. If you don't have a washer, you can easily go 10 years or more without pumping. In many areas they recommend that you pump every 3-4 years, but you may not need to. Your county extension office and/or local water utility sometimes have classes for homeowners with septics that can help you with any questions.

    You say you just bought the place, and there was no requirement that the septic be pumped and inspected prior to close of escrow? I'm surprised. That seems to be pretty standard in most areas now, regardless of whether the owner lived in it at the time or not, just like termite and roof inspections. Oh well, you'll know for your next house! ;-)
     
  12. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Alcohol dissolves grease may be true, but at the low concentrations that might be present in a septic tank where yeast has been added would do nothing. I put a pat of butter in my beer last night and it didn't dissolve....hummmm?!?!? Besides, why would you want to emulsify fats and oils with alcohol in the septic tank and then have them demulsify in the drainfield and clog the soil???

    Let me give you some background. I am a soil scientist who works for the State of Minnesota. Part of my responsibilities is in the on-site wastewater treatment area. I had a guy once who was sooooo proud telling us state guys that we were full of BS when we suggested pumping the tank every 3 to 5 years. He was so proud, he said that he had never pumped his tank in 20 years. All he did was flush some septic tank additive down the toliet every month. The additive cost him about $3/mo on the average.

    It wasn't too long after that when we got a call from Mr. Smartypants. Guess what? Sewage backed up in his basement. He called the septic tank pumper out to pump his tank. The tank was relatively clean! Very little sludge...very little floating scum (fats and oils). What happened was that the additive did exactly what it said it would do: "keeps your tank clean by breaking down solids and fats." All the solids and fats where kept suspended in the tank and flowed over into the drainfield....where they plugged the soil completely! The only solution to his problem was a new drainfield...at the cost of $2500!

    So, in 20 years, this guy spent about $700 on septic tank additives but saved himself the cost of pumping the tank every 3 to 5 years (which would have cost him a total of around $500 to $700 over the 20 years)...a wash, if you ask me. The result of doing it his way was a $2500 bill for a new drainfield.

    If you need the "confidence" of adding something to your septic tank try this:
    Every night of the full moon, at exactly midnight, take a goblet of wine into the bathroom with you. While in the bathroom, spin in a circle while chanting the following incantation three times: "Stool, stool on the floor take my gift and flush forevermore." Then flush your wine sacrafice to the mysterious gods of the middle earth. They will insure that your septic tank will work for you flawlessly....and you'll "feel" like you did something good.
     
  13. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    One way to tell if your tank needs pumping is to measure the depth of the sludge on the bottom. For most this would require digging down to the clean-out lid. Likely a big yard mess as a result.

    The next time you have the tank pumped check out installing an inspection port. The clean-out lid on the top of the tank will be an inward sloping shape on all our sides. Check with your local health department if you can pour a replacement yourself (use a box) with a length of 6" PVC up to near the yard surface. At the top of the PVC install a screw-out plug. Put in place and backfill. You can inspect the sludge depth by clamping an old sock on a long pole and dipping it to the bottom of the tank. When you pull it out it should be apparent on the sock what the depth is.

    This would also make clean-out easier as you would know precisely where the clean-out lid is located.

    Personally I don't even put toilet paper down the commode. It goes into a wastepaper basket beside the commode and then into household trash. If you don't want to do this, at least check to see if your toilet paper brand is tank friendly. Fill a glass jar about 3/4rds full of water and put in some of your paper. Shake well and let settle. If the paper disintregrates, it is OK. It if stays in basically one piece, consider a different brand.

    My washer drains to a do-it-yourself gray water system.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  14. One more thing that I do for older systems. I always clean-out the distribution box, that is usually about 10' downstream from the tank. Its hard to find, but when you do, open the small top (lid) and clean it out. I do it the cheap way, with my hand and a cup. It's nasty black ooze, but it washes off ok. I was a county septic inspector for several years.