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Causes of Septic Problems

Compaction

Driving or parking cars and other heavy machinery over your septic system can compact the septic field, diminish its absorption ability, and even crush the drain-pipes. If this happens, replacing them is your only alternative.

Dumping the Wrong Things Down

A Fine Mess

Septic fields can be improperly installed. If this has been diagnosed as the cause, and you have a home warranty, check your policy regarding coverage.

Certain chemicals and substances can cause real problems in a septic system. Flushing even minute amounts of things like paint, solvents, or nail polish remover down toilets or pouring them down sinks can poison the system and kill its microorganisms. Other no-no's for septic fields include:

  • Excessive amounts of laundry bleach, toilet bowl cleaners, and caustic drain openers. These products can impair and even halt microorganism breakdown. If this happens, sewage will flow into the drain field before it's adequately treated. However, normal use of these products and other household cleaning products shouldn't harm the system.

  • Oils, grease, and fat. As is the case with municipal sewer systems, these substances are notorious for clogging septic systems.

  • Garbage disposals. Yes, they're convenient, but they can easily overburden septic fields, especially when used to excess, as they can significantly increase the amount of suspended solids that enter the tank.

  • Paper products, including tampons, paper towels, facial tissue, and many supposedly "disposable" products such as diapers, towelettes,and what not. These products can clog drain lines.

  • Other potentially harmful solid materials include cigarette or cigar butts, coffee grounds,and cat litter.

It's also a good idea to keep non biodegradable materials out of septic systems. This includes plastic or foil wrappers, tampon holders, and condoms.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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