One of the unsung, often forgotten heroes of every home is the plumbing. Whether it’s a sewer system or a septic tank system, the plumbing in your house is a vital part of your everyday life. From washing dishes, to bathing children and pets, to doing the laundry, all these things require a pristine  plumbing system.

plumbing problemsHow do you know when something just isn’t quite right with your plumbing system?

What are some signs to look for that indicate something might be wrong?

In this article, we will talk about some common problems with your septic system, what might be causing them and what needs to be done to fix them.

However, before we get into the article remember this: regular septic tank cleanings will go a long way in preserving and maintaining your system.

Check your lawnpooling in septic field


Probably the most obvious sign that your septic tank needs attention is pooling water. When you see pools of water on the lawn around the septic system drain field, its very possible that your septic tank is overflowing. When septic tanks get full, solid waste could be clogging drain fields pipe system, forcing the fluid to the top of the ground. This is a clear indicator that your septic tank needs to be pumped.

septic drain field growth

Lush grass

In contrast to the flooded lawn, an uncharacteristically healthy lawn is also a sign for concern. Just because there is a septic tank beneath part of your lawn, doesn’t mean that there should be any color difference from the rest of your lawn. If the grass atop your septic tank is lush and vibrant green, this could mean that your septic system is leaking water somehow. It is either full or damaged. Regardless of the cause, you need to call in the professionals.


Indoor plumbing signalsslow water drainage

Slow drains

If you’ve noticed that the drains in your home have slowed considerably, this could be a clear sign that your septic tank is full. If you’ve done all the septic-tank-friendly DIY fixes to help unclog your system, then it is time to call in a professional to come and assess the situation, and most likely drain your septic tank. It might sound redundant, but the solution to most septic tank issues is to have it pumped.

septic backupOdor

A clear indication that your septic tank needs your attention is, if you start to notice an unpleasant but unmistakable odor. As mentioned before, your septic tank collects all the dirty water that you expel from your house, like baths, laundry, dishes and your toilet. All that black water is a great cocktail for a scent that nobody wants to smell. This is a great time to have someone come out and empty your septic tank before the problem gets worse.

Sewage backupseptic backup in basement

Probably the most dramatic indication of a problem is sewer backup. This is also the most dangerous symptom that your septic tank needs attention. This is the ultimate cry for help from your septic tank. When the sewage backs up it will be in your lowest drains first, then the rest of them if its not dealt with soon. If this happens to you, don’t try to clean it by yourself! This problem is a hazardous waste issue needs to be dealt with immediately by professionals with the right hazard-safe equipment.

septic problemsConclusion

Don’t let a needy septic tank get in the way of your daily life.  The best way to make sure none of these things happen to you is to have your septic tank cleaned regularly. Call us today to schedule an appointment so one of our technicians can come make sure your septic tank is getting enough attention.

When it comes to household plumbing systems, there are only two options:

Sewer and Septic.

Sewer systems are run by the local governments, but septic systems are installed and managed by individuals on private property. The primary unit of a septic system is the septic tank. In this article, we will discuss what a septic tank is, how it works and what type of households would benefit from a septic tank rather than the traditional sewer system.  

What is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is an underground container, the major component of a septic system. It is usually made of concrete, plastic, fiberglass or steel. Treatment of household wastewater takes place inside the septic tank. This is a process of biological decomposition and, eventually, drainage. A septic system sees to the safe disposal of waste water.  


How Does it Work?

The septic system is of a basic design. This underground, watertight container is usually made in a rectangular or round shape. Your septic tank is connected to two pipes, an inlet and an outlet. The inlet pipe will collect the water waste inside the septic tank. Over time, the solid and liquid waste will separate from one another. The outlet pipe, or drain field, then carries the processed wastewater from the septic tank. From here the water spreads evenly into the soil and watercourses.

 After some time has passed, three layers will begin to form: the top layer is comprised of oils and grease that floats above the waste, which is called scum. The middle layer is your wastewater with waste particles. The bottom layer is made up of heavier particles that settle down into sludge. From inside the tank, bacteria in the wastewater will begin to break down all the solid waste. The decomposition of the solid waste is very quick, which is what allows the liquids in the tank to separate and drain away easier. 

How Do you Maintain a Septic Tank?

 Making sure that you have a properly maintained septic tank is very important, not just for you, but for your property and health. Depending on the size of your septic tank, you should have it cleaned every few years. Without these regular “checkups” septic tank damage could go unnoticed, resulting in the need for a new tank.

Why do I need to clean my septic tank?

Toxins and antibacterial substances can build up in the tank if it is not cleaned often, resulting in the elimination of the vital bacteria that is responsible for breaking down the waste in your septic tank. Another thing to be mindful of is that a lot of household cleaners will accumulate solid waste and sludge in the drain field lines and septic tank itself. This will inevitably lead to septic system failure by blocking the system and causing overflow into the watercourse or possibly out an access grate. None of which sounds like a fun time for anyone involved.  

The best thing you can do as a homeowner with a septic tank is to make sure that it is in prime condition for you and your family. Whether you just bought a house that has a septic tank system, or you’re building a home with one, make sure you know the last time it was cleaned.  

Do I need a Septic Tank?

Homes in rural areas or secluded sections of forested land would benefit most from a septic tank system. If your home is out of the hustle and bustle of the suburban lifestyle, it’s a good candidate for a septic system. Another common thing that homeowners with septic systems have is well water, these two things typically go hand in hand. Septic tanks are becoming more popular with the younger generation ready to buy homes because they are eco-friendly and efficient. Waste that is collected from your septic tank is organic, which means you can’t send it to a landfill. The heavy sludge, however, when removed by a company that is permitted to do so, can be taken to a landfill. Another option is to have the sludge  converted into fertilizers.  

Whether you are considering buying, building, or renting a property that has a septic tank, we can help. Give us a call today. We want to make the next step of your journey as a homeowner an easy one. 

The internet is rife with crazy ideas for just about any information you are searching for to meet your home care needs. A Popular Mechanics article by Roy Berendsohn tackled a question like that last year about one urban myth concerning septic tank pumping.

Here is the question:

“’I’ve heard that tossing a whole dead chicken into my septic tank lessens the need to have the tank pumped because the bacterial action created by the rotting carcass is effective at breaking down sewage. True?”

Berendsohn said he actually spoke with people in the 1980s who had been doing the dead chicken thing, or using rotting hamburger or roadkill, to keep the job of pumping their septic tanks at bay. Unfortunately, this theory about coaxing decomposition is NOT the way to go.
The rotting carcass theory has the effect of pushing harmful pollution out of one’s septic tank, through the pipes and leach field, and into the groundwater. This can represent a major hazard to your general community.

Enough of this nonsense!

Yes, pumping your septic tank is a nasty, disagreeable job, but taking care of it on a regular basis protects your property from septic system disasters, which are even more disagreeable.
The real way to protect your septic system and ensure its longevity.

Pipeline, the newsletter for The National Environmental Services Center, recommends these basic steps for septic system maintenance.

Septic system location

Do you even know where your septic system is? Yes, septic system professionals can have trouble finding some systems, so don’t be shy about getting help. Knowledge is power, and a septic system professional can help you find your system components if you’re not sure where they are.
Here are three steps septic professionals may use to locate your system if there is no above-ground marker such as a septic tank riser.
• A look in the basement can provide helpful information for locating your septic system such as noting the direction your sewage pipes leave your house through the wall.
• When the inspector goes back outside, he can insert an insulated probe into the soil that will help locate buried pipes.
• Once your professional locates the septic system, it is important to draw a map that you can keep. This saves steps later.

Pipe Connections

Your septic professional may want to take a few steps to check the pipe connections in your home. This procedure can include flushing toilets, running the washing machine for one cycle, and running water into the sinks.

Find the manhole and inspection ports

This will require digging if you don’t use tank risers or elevated access covers. So, once you access the tank, Pipeline recommends installing one of these above-ground methods of easy tank identification.

Annual system inspections

These ensure that your septic system is working properly. Additionally, a regular septic tank evaluation provides you with the information you need to know how often your septic tank should be pumped.

Sludge and scum layers in your septic tank are indicators of your tank condition. Your annual inspection should include measuring the sludge and scum layers in your tank. Inspectors can do this by inserting a tool through your tank’s inspection port.

Additionally, septic inspectors should check all parts of the tank to verify that there are no cracks.

Drainfield Problems in Your Septic System

According to the Washington State Department of Health, some indications of drainfield problems may include the following:

  • Foul order around your property
  • Bright green, spongy grass near your drainfield or over your septic tank
  • Damp spots or standing water near your outdoor septic system components

Help for Septic Tank Pumping

The Pipeline article (Pg. 2) provides a guidance chart for septic tank pumping frequency. So, don’t rely on any crazy dead chicken myths when approaching your septic system health; it’s just too important. If you feel that your knowledge about septic system maintenance and tank pumping is limited and you live in or around Knoxville, contact the experts at J & J Septic to schedule your service. You may also call them at (865) 622-4428.

Knoxville Christmas Septic Tank ServicesIs your Septic Tank ready for the surge of people that are coming over for the holidays? The holidays are here again, and as usual, family and friends will come to your home to celebrate the spirit of love and togetherness. As the Christmas season fast approaches, probably you’ve already begun planning Thanksgiving menus and dinners, or even preparing additional sleeping accommodations for your guests. Hosting Christmas parties at your home can easily wreak your septic system if you’re not well prepared. No one loves having a clogged toilet during Christmas festivities, especially with the entire family and friends around.

Ensure your kitchens and bathrooms run smoothly during the festive season

The best approach to this festive season is to take precaution to ensure your kitchens and bathrooms run smoothly during the festive season. If you’re going to host a large family, it’s vital you make the essential preparations when it comes to your septic system to prevent incidents that may ruin your Christmas holiday. Here’s a short yet often ignored list of things to do when it comes to keeping Septic Tank ready for the Holidays.

Ensure your septic tank is pumped before the holiday season.

While it’s good to manage and limit water usage to avoid blockages and overfilling your Septic Pumping system, this will almost be impossible with a huge number of people around your house. Expect an increased bathroom and kitchen water use that comes with additional visitors. This is why you should prepare your tank by pumping it before the holidays. This hands-on approach will guarantee your septic tank won’t overflow when you need it the most.

Inform your visitors a “do not flush list.”

This is because most people who are connected to the main city sewer tend to flush everything down the drain, including items that are prohibited from septic systems. This includes washing trash and hard foods down the drain, emptying any kitchen grease or oils down drains, flushing tampons, excessive toilet paper, sanitary napkins, wipes and diapers down the drain. These will not only damage your septic tank but may also block your drainage system. Instead of washing these items down the toilet or sink, place them in the compost or garbage bag. Even if you own a garbage disposal system, you shouldn’t wash hard food down the drain because they don’t break the food waste products into the required size.

Educate your guests on efficient water use practices and how the septic system functions. Inform them of the effects of overusing water while showering, when washing dishes and doing laundry and when using the restroom. This can also cause your septic tank to overflow and backup.

Use an additive

Lastly, you can also use an additive. This will keep your septic tank healthy throughout your festive season. Additives have natural bacteria that help in breaking down solids in your Septic Pumping. Just use one packet to keep your septic tank healthy, and you’ll be assured of a perfect holiday.

Following these tips will make sure that your Septic Tank is ready for the Holidays. Also, consider hiring experts to perform checkups on your septic tank to ensure that it works efficiently.

Septic System Maintenance 101 in Knoxville

If your property uses a septic system rather than a municipal wastewater system, it may seem to be a daunting responsibility to manage your system to prevent a stinky mess from a septic disaster. Maintaining your septic system in Knoxville doesn’t have to be that difficult though; it just requires vigilance.

An article by the Environmental Protection Agency provides general information about septic systems and their function. According to the EPA, septic systems are underground wastewater treatment systems. These systems treat wastewater from homes and other structures in rural areas generally not served by a centralized water infrastructure.

Septic systems typically consist of two components – a water-tight container known as the septic tank and the drainfield (also known as a leach field or soil absorption field).

The septic tank receives wastewater and other waste material from a structure. While in the tank, floatable matter such as oil and grease is separated from solids. The floatable matter called scum floats to the top while the solids settle at the bottom of the tank as sludge.

Then the liquid (effluent) drains out of the tank into the leach field. The leach field is a shallow pit in unsaturated soil. The effluent travels from the tank through pipes and is released to filter into porous soil surfaces. The wastewater then percolates through the soil. This process naturally removes harmful coliform bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants. Coliform bacteria inhabits human intestines and those of other warm-blooded animals.

Septic Pumping Company in Knoxville TNHow do you know if you have a septic system?

When you purchase a home that is removed from the majority of homes in a locality, it is wise to determine whether your home is connected to a local sewer system or has its own septic system.

Here are a few ways to determine if your home uses a septic system:

  • The waterline connected to your home does not have a meter.
  • You use well water
  • Your neighbors use a septic system
  • Your water or property tax bill indicates $0 charged for sewer service.

So, you learned that you have a septic system. How do you find it?

  • Checking your homes “as built” drawing
  • Looking for lids or manhole covers in your yard.
  • Enlisting the help of a septic service to help you find it.

So, you found your septic system in Knoxville … How do you maintain it?

Another article by the EPA provides tips to keep your septic system running like a well-oiled machine.

They boil down to these:

  • Frequent inspection and pumping
  • Efficient water use
  • Proper Waste Disposal
  • Drain field upkeep

Knoxville TN Pumping Septic Tank CompanyFrequent Septic System Inspection and Pumping

The EPA recommends that you have a septic service professional inspect your septic system every three years, at a minimum. Additionally, it is wise to get your septic system pumped every three to five years. This is a very general guideline, however, and the number of people living in the home as well as the frequency of overnight guests, affects the pumping schedule.

Alternative systems may have features such as electrical float switches, pumps or mechanical components requiring more frequent inspections – annually, in general. If you have one of these alternative systems with mechanical parts, the EPA suggests that you maintain a service contract because of the mechanical parts.

There are general guidelines regarding the frequency of pumping your system may require.

Household size

One person living in a home with a septic system may only need to pump the system’s tank once every 10 years. However, a family of seven may require tank pumping every two years. For more specific recommendations, consult your septic system professional.

Septic tank size

The website InspectAPedia provides a table that includes factors such as tank capacity, along with the number of residents in a home, to suggest the most beneficial pumping schedule for your septic tank. For instance, a 900-gallon tank that generally serves only two residents only needs to be pumped every 5.2 years. Then a 750-gallon tank serving 4 consistent residents should be pumped every 1.8 years.

The total amount of wastewater generated

There are many factors affecting the amount of wastewater a septic system generates, and there are just as many ways to control that flow with efficient household water use that will keep your system on an even keel and minimize extremely frequent pumping.

Suggestions include:

  • Shorter showers and bathwater fill reduction.
  • Turning off the faucet while shaving, brushing teeth, soaping up, etc.
  • Quick repair of leaky faucets and toilets.
  • Selecting any new appliance models with water saving features (i.e. high-efficiency washers).
  • Instructing family members, especially children, in water-saving habits.
  • Installing low flow equipment for faucets and shower heads.
  • Preventing the entry of backwash from water treatment devices (i.e. HVAC condensate lines and water softeners) into the septic system.
  • Reducing the amount of water needed to flush the toilets. Handy hint, place an object such as a plastic water bottle (1 or 2 liters, depending on tank fit) with a few pebbles and filled with water in the tank, this reduces the amount of water needed to fill the tank and then to flush it. Be careful that the bottle does not touch any of the toilet’s working parts.
  • Alternatively, install new water-efficient toilets, if possible and your toilets are old enough to replace. According to the EPA, older homes generally have toilets with 3.5 to 5-gallon water capacity. The newer water-efficient toilet models, however, use only 1.6 gallons per flush.
  • Conscious laundering habits. Washing small loads with the highest water setting wastes water and energy. Make sure to select the proper water level for each load you wash. If you cannot select a water level, wash only full loads.

*Spread your laundering over the week. Doing all of your laundries in one day can be harmful to your septic system. It does not allow the system enough time to treat waste, and you risk flooding your drainfield.*

The volume of solids in the generated wastewater

To minimize the volume of solids in wastewater, it is useful to remember that anything going down your drains, being ground up in your garbage disposal, or getting flushed down the toilet ends up in your septic system.

Things Not To Flush

The EPA listed items that you should not allow into your septic system by flushing or pouring down the drain:

  • Photographic solutions
  • Dental floss
  • Flushable wipes
  • Cigarette butts
  • Kitty litter
  • Medications
  • Coffee grounds
  • Paper towels
  • Diapers
  • Condoms
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Cooking grease or oil
  • Chemical drain openers (Use boiling water or a drain snake instead.)
  • Oil-based or latex paints, solvents, or large amounts of toxic cleaners
  • Also, eliminate or minimize garbage disposal use if possible

Standard indications for immediate pumping include:

  • Is the bottom of your scum level within six inches of your septic tank outlet?
  • Is the top of your tank’s sludge level within 12 inches of your outlet?

Managing Your Drainfield for Septic System Maintenance

The purpose of the drainfield (also called a leach field) is to remove contaminants from the water draining from your septic tank. There are a few suggestions to maintain a high-functioning leach field.

  • NEVER drive or park on your leach field.
  • Be careful how close you plant trees or shrubbery to the leach field. Tree or shrub roots can clog or damage drain pipes. A good rule of thumb is to plant any tree as far from the leach field as its height at maturity. For instance, if your tree can be expected to grow to a height of approximately 25 feet, do not plant it any closer than 25 feet to the leach field. In fact, according to a newsletter by “Pipeline,” the only vegetation you should plant on or near the drainfield is grass.
  • Never dig in your drainfield or build any structures over it. Additionally, DO NOT cover your drainfield with any hard surface (i.e. concrete or asphalt). The only cover recommended for the drainfield, according to Pipeline, is grass. A grass covering has two primary benefits – erosion prevention and excess water removal.
  • Do not place sump pumps, roof drains, or any other rainwater drainage systems too close to your drainfield area. Excessive water will slow down or completely stop the natural wastewater cleansing process.

What to do when hiring a service provider for septic system maintenance in Knoxville

Be organized:

  • Maintain records of any work your service provider performs on your septic system.
  • For accurate guidance in septic tank pumping frequency, record sludge and scum level your plumbing professional finds when servicing your system.
  • Make sure your septic service provider provides written notes concerning your tank’s condition and any repairs performed.

Finally, keep your eyes open for trouble in your septic system.

Here are a few indications that your septic system needs immediate professional attention.

  • Bright green spongy grass on the drainfield, especially in dry weather
  • Muddy soil or pooling water near your septic system or in your basement
  • Wastewater back-up into household drains
  • Foul odor around your septic tank and drainfield

Although septic system maintenance in Knoxville does not need to be difficult if you are vigilant, most homeowners are not equipped to perform Do-It-Yourself system service. So, when you have a question about your system or determine that your system needs servicing, call the experts at J & J Septic Services in Knoxville, to get the most reliable service for your septic system.