Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

Septic System Guidance for Before and After Winter

- Thursday, November 19, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Guidance

Before the Winter

Always keep your septic system well maintained; a well-maintained septic system is better able to withstand the stresses of winter weather. Take these steps to protect your septic system.

Know and document all components of your septic system. Take photos of the connections and system components. These photos will be helpful if components are destroyed and you need to replace them or file insurance claims. Make sure your photos and/or documents include:

  • Septic tank location
  • Septic system records or drawings
  • Electrical components

Check for and repair any leaking plumbing fixtures. Small trickles of water can freeze within the pipe and eventually cause the pipe to freeze solid.

Let the grass in your lawn get longer in the late summer/fall over the tank and soil treatment area to provide extra insulation.

Consider wrapping your pipes with heat tape if you have high-efficiency appliances that generate small amounts of water.

Make sure the land around the manhole covers is sloped downwards so that snow melt flows away from the system

Avoid compacting the soil around the system. Compacted soil provides less insulation than uncompacted soil. Never allow vehicle traffic or livestock above the tanks or on the drain field.

Check with a septic system service professional before doing any landscaping to make sure that your system complies with freezing depths for the area.

Consider adding more insulation to the system if your system is new, you have had issues with freezing in the past, or you have a mound system. Options include installing insulated pipes, adding insulation to tanks or manhole covers, or placing a layer of mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank and drain field. This mulch could be hay, straw, or any other loose material. Contact a septic system service professional for more information.

Check for open, broken or uncapped risers, inspection pipes, or manhole covers that may allow cold air in and cause freezing. Be careful around any openings to the system and contact a septic system service professional for any needed repairs.

Check for any water pooling near the drain field. Effluent released from a failing system may freeze and prevent further effluent from entering the soil. Contact a septic system service professional for any needed repairs.

During the Winter

If you will be gone for more than a week leave the heat on in your home and consider having someone come by and run warm water regularly to prevent pipes from freezing.

Limit all traffic above and near the system during freezing temperatures. Excessive foot traffic, pets, or other impacts can cause snow to compact and the system to freeze.

Avoid removing or compacting snow above the system. Compacted snow provides less insulation than uncompacted snow and cold PVC pipes and plastic risers may crack or break.

If you feel the system starting to freeze use warm water and spread out your laundry and dishwasher schedule to at least one warm load per day. Do not leave water running, as this will hydraulically overload the system.

If you will be gone for several months, follow the steps listed above and check with a septic system service professional about having your septic tank pumped to prevent the effluent from freezing. In certain areas pumping the tank may cause it to pop out of the ground.

If your septic system freezes, call a septic system service professional. Do not add antifreeze, salt, or a septic system additive to the system. Do not run hot water continuously, start a fire over the system, or attempt to pump the sewage. Unless the cause of the freezing is corrected the system will probably refreeze next winter.

If you hear water constantly running into a pump tank or the pump turning on and off your system may be frozen. Shut off your pump and call a septic system service professional.

If your septic system cannot be repaired, contact a septic system service professional about using the septic tank as a holding tank until the system thaws naturally. If this complies with local code the tanks will need to be emptied on a regular basis. This can be costly. Reduce water use by limiting the number of toilet flushes, taking short showers, using the dishwasher at full capacity, and doing laundry at a laundromat.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

neha.org


Hiring a Septic System Professional

- Friday, November 13, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Hiring a Septic System Professional

There are several types of septic system professionals which provide different services at different stages of a septic system’s lifetime. Once you have determined which type of professional you need, contact at least three of them, and ask them about their services.

Types of Septic Professionals

Maintenance Service Providers

Septic System Inspectors and Maintenance Service Providers can inspect the whole system, including tanks, pumps, additional treatment devices (such as a sandfilter), and the drainfield. These professionals may be known as Operation and Maintenance (or O&M) Specialist, Inspectors, or Monitoring Specialists. These professionals should be hired for routine inspections and called first when there are issues with your system. Your local health department may or may not require these professional to be approved and certified.

Questions to ask Maintenance Service Providers:

  • What are the estimated costs? Does this include health department fees?
  • What will the inspection include and not include? (Examples: checking tanks and drainfield, cleaning filters, checking for leaks)
  • Do you charge extra to dig up the lids to the system? What if I do the digging?
  • Do you know how to service my type of system? (Examples: pumps, pressure distribution, sand filter, specific proprietary components)

Septic Pumpers

Sewage Pumpers can pump tanks and transport the sewage material to an approved treatment facility. Many can also inspect the tanks for cracks and leaks, as well as check the drainfield area and evaluate landscaping and proper drainage. Washington State regulation requires that Septic Pumpers are approved by the local health department.

Note: Having your tank(s) pumped is not a substitute for an inspection. In general, a Maintenance Service Provider (or owner, if allowed in your area) should inspect the system and determine if pumping is needed. If it has been five or more years since your last pumping, or if you are selling your home, you may need to have your tanks pumped regardless.

Questions to ask Sewage Pumpers:

  • What are the estimated costs? Does this include health department fees?
  • Do you pump both sides/chambers of the tank?
  • Do you charge extra to dig up the lids to the system? What if I do the digging?
  • Do you inspect the tank?

Septic System Designers and Engineers

Licensed Septic System Designers and Professional Engineers can design systems for new installations, alterations, and repairs. Many also evaluate system problems, and perform inspections and maintenance. Designers and Professional Engineers are licensed through the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Questions to ask Designers and Engineers:

  • What are the estimated costs for your project?
  • What's included and not included? (Examples: site evaluation, design package, pressure test, as-built package, health department fees)
  • Do you charge extra for inspections, extra visits, or the homeowner’s manual?

Septic System Installers

can install new systems, alter or expand existing systems, and repair failed systems. Some may also inspect and perform maintenance on systems. Washington State regulation requires that Installers are approved by the local health department.

Questions to ask Installers:

  • What are the estimated costs?
  • What's included and not included? (Examples: full installation, backfill, electrical work, health department fees)
  • Do you contact the local health department or do I need to?
  • Do you warranty your work? For how long? Ask them to explain their warranty.
  • Do you charge extra for any services?

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Source: doh.wa.gov


What Happens When a Septic System Fails?

- Thursday, November 05, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

A septic system failure causes untreated sewage to be released and transported to where it shouldn’t be. This may cause sewage to come to the surface of the ground around the tank or the drainfield or to back up in pipes in the building.

What are some common reasons a septic system doesn't work properly?

Pipe from the house to the tank is clogged. When this happens, drains drain very slowly (perhaps slower on lower levels of the building) or stop draining completely. This is often an easy problem to fix. Usually, a service provider can "snake the line" and get it unclogged. You can prevent a clogged line by flushing only human waste and toilet paper down the drain and having your system inspected annually. Sometimes this pipe gets crushed or broken by vehicle or animal traffic. Plant roots sometimes block the pipe (particularly on older systems). Fixing a crushed or root damaged pipe will require replacing (at least) a portion of the pipe.

Inlet baffle to the tank is blocked. This failure is very similar to when the inlet pipe from the house to the tank is clogged. If you have access to your inlet baffle opening, you can check to see if there is a clog. If you see toilet paper and other debris, you can try unclogging it using a pole. Be mindful not to damage any of the septic systems components. A service professional can also be contacted for this relatively easy and low-cost fix. Prevent your inlet baffle from getting clogged by only flushing human waste and toilet paper and having your system inspected annually.

Outlet baffle or effluent filter is clogged. This may result in sewage backing up into the home, or possibly surfacing near the septic tank. This issue may be a sign that the tank is receiving too much water, possibly in a short amount of time. If there is an effluent filter this must be cleaned off or replaced. If there is not an effluent filter, fixing this issue will probably require getting the tank pumped to identify and remove the clog. Prevent this type of issue by cleaning your effluent filter (if you have one) and having your system inspected annually.

Drainfield has failed. When the drainfield fails, or is saturated with water, sewage may backup into the home. Wet, soggy areas may develop above or near the drainfield and you may see spongy bright green grass over the area. There may also be odors near the tank or drainfield. This could be the end of life for this component of your septic system. It may be that the system was operated inappropriately and too much solid material made it to the drainfield causing it to fail prematurely. Or, maybe the system worked for many years and simply has no more capacity to accept waste. However, if too much water has saturated the drainfield (through large amounts of water going down the drain or through flood water on the drainfield), it's possible that the drainfield can be dried out and rehabilitated. Contact a service professional to assess the situation. If the drainfield has failed, a connection to the public sewer system should be considered, if it’s a possibility. Otherwise, a replacement drainfield will need to be installed.

There are other reasons a septic system can fail or malfunction. If your system isn't working properly, contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Source: doh.wa.gov


Signs of Septic System Failure - Fiskdale, Sturbridge, MA

- Thursday, October 29, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA
  • Water and sewage from toilets, drains, and sinks are backing up into the home.
  • Bathtubs, showers, and sinks drain very slowly.
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.
  • Standing water or damp spots near the septic tank or drainfield.
  • Bad odors around the septic tank or drainfield.
  • Bright green, spongy lush grass over the septic tank or drainfield, even during dry weather.
  • Algal blooms in nearby ponds or lakes.
  • High levels of nitrates or coliform bacteria in water wells.

Like most components of your home, septic systems require routine maintenance. If maintained, the septic system should provide reliable service for many years. If the septic system isn't maintained, owners run the risk of dangerous and costly failures. And, septic systems do have an operational lifetime and will eventually need to be replaced.

A quick response may save the owner money in repairs and may prevent illness and negative impact on the environment.

For more information on septic system inspections and repair, Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Source: doh.wa.gov


6 Signs Your Septic System Is in Trouble

- Thursday, October 22, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction

As long as you use and maintain it properly, a well-designed septic system shouldn't give you any trouble. With proper upkeep, it can last as many as 30 years. But considering that it's underground: How do you tell if there's a problem?

Here are the signs your septic system's got a problem and it's time to call in the pros.

1. Water (or sewage) is backing up inside your home

Water—or smelly black liquid—gurgling up into the drains in your kitchen or sink can happen for a couple of reasons:

Your tank or drain field are too full

After dirty water and waste enter your septic tank, solids get separated from liquids. The wastewater is eventually pushed out into a drain field, a series of underground trenches or chambers. Once there, any harmful bacteria gets absorbed by the soil or digested by naturally occurring microbes.

But if your tank receives lots of water very fast—either because of heavy rain or maybe you're using much more water than normal—the tank or the drain field can become overloaded.

A blocked pipe

Another likely reason that water's backing up into your home: a clogged distribution line somewhere between your house and your septic tank. Maybe you've got a small kid who happily flushed a sock down the drain, or you're guilty of tossing things like not-so-flushable wipes in your toilet.

Be proactive: Keep an eye on your water usage.

You should also limit the amount of food you put down your garbage disposal. Yes, it gets ground into tiny pieces, but over time, food waste can also end up clogging your drain field.

2. Green, spongy grass around your septic tank

Surprisingly, dying grass on top of your septic tank isn't necessarily a bad sign. (The soil on top of your septic tank often isn't as deep as it is over the rest of your lawn, which makes it easy for grass there to get parched.) But it is a red flag when the grass on top of your septic tank is thriving far more than anywhere else in your yard.

That could be due to a leak of liquid wastewater before it hits the drain field. Once it escapes your septic tank, it basically acts as fertilizer.

Be proactive: Get a septic system inspection each year, and have it pumped every three to five years so you can catch problems like damaged pipes, rust damage, and cracks in your tank early on.

3. You’ve got trees or shrubs near your system

Tree roots naturally seek out sources of water—including leaky pipes or even condensation. And in their gusto to get nourishment, they can crack septic tank pipes, allowing dirt to enter, or they can collapse the pipes completely. Smaller shrubs aren't necessarily better, since they can also spread out some deep roots.

Already have trees in the danger zone? Each time your system's serviced, make sure the pipes aren't compromised. If there’s a problem a camera can be sent into the line to see if tree roots are to blame.

4. Water's pooling in your yard

Occasionally, a high water table or excessive rainfall can saturate the drain field and prevent the septic tank from draining properly, Gallas says.

If you're pretty sure heavy rains are to blame for little lakes in your yard, you can try to give your septic system a chance to catch up by using it less. But if that doesn't get rid of standing water, call a plumber.

5. A rotten egg smell

Yes, a gross sewage odor can indicate your system's failing. But that's not always the case.

There can be several different reasons you might smell septic gases. Those include a dried-out wax seal on a toilet (which seals your toilet bowl to the floor) as well as a dry trap in a floor drain. (It's often filled with water, which keeps out sewer gases.)

Be proactive: If you have a persistent odor inside your home, the first course of action is to check all exposed fixtures, and if nothing is found, it should be followed up with a smoke test to find leaks in the lines.

6. Slow drains

Slow drains are an indicator that there's a stoppage on the pipe itself that flows into the septic. And while you might be tempted to pull out the Drano or another drain cleaner, don't.

Harsh chemicals can deteriorate your pipes over time. Plus, chemical drain cleaners can kill the good enzymes and bacteria in your tank that help to break down waste, Monell says.

Be proactive: Use a natural product with bacteria and enzymes; the accumulated gunk inside your pipes is tasty food for them.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Source: realtor.com


Septic System Inspection: How Often, Costs, Precautions, and More!

- Friday, October 16, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

A is one of those home maintenance tasks that you might put off, and then put off some more. Because septics exist underground in the backyard, they are often out of sight, thus out of mind. But letting it go too many flushes without an inspection can result in some major problems if the system fails.

Plus, septic system inspections are also required if you plan to sell your home. Even if you don't know if you're going to sell, keeping your septic system in good condition will save you thousands of dollars in repairs if anything does go wrong.

Here's everything homeowners need to know about a septic system inspection.

How often should you get a septic system inspection?

Experts say you should get a septic system inspection every three years. But here's a dose of reality: Most homeowners never get their septic systems inspected unless there is a notable issue.

But that means homeowners get an inspection only when issues that may signal big trouble arise, such as when the toilet backs up, water takes too long to drain, or there's an actual septic system leakage. The benefit of doing an inspection every three years is to avoid major problems like these.

The three-year mark is also the maximum amount of time you should let your septic system go without being pumped out.

A problem caught at inspection can save you from having to replace the entire septic system (read: shell out a ton of money). It's especially important to keep your septic system in good shape if you plan on selling. During closing, a certified inspection will be performed and you don't want any last-minute surprises.

Who should perform a septic system inspection?

You're going to want to hire a professional septic contractor for the inspection.

General home inspectors do only a limited, visual-only inspection of the septic system.

A septic contractor will look for cracks in the tank indicated by a low level of liquid, the amount of solids inside the tank using a measuring device called a "sludge judge," and possible ground contamination.

How much does a septic system inspection cost?

Cost depends on how extensive the septic inspection is as well as the size of the tank, which is usually either 1,000 or 1,500 gallons. But a basic septic system inspection typically runs between $300 to $600.

Is the home seller or buyer obligated to get an inspection?

The person who's responsible for carrying out the inspection is determined based on where you live. In Massachusetts, it is generally the seller who is responsible.

Is the seller obligated to fix any septic problems?

The responsibility to pay for septic repairs typically falls to the seller. However, repairs of any kind found at inspection are generally negotiable. Contract terms usually dictate the course of action, but sellers may have such options as doing the repairs themselves, splitting repair costs with the buyer, giving the buyer a closing credit equal to the amount of the repairs, or refusing to do anything. If an agreement on repairs isn't reached, the buyer does have the legal right to walk away from the transaction.

Don't forget about disclosure

Sellers are required to disclose any known problems with a home to potential buyers. If there's a septic issue after closing that the sellers knew about, they will be liable for the entire cost of the repairs.

For that reason, it's good practice for all sellers to perform their own septic system inspection. That way, the seller is protected from any future septic issues after the closing.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Sourcer: realtor.com


Should I Buy a Home With a Failed Septic System?

- Thursday, October 08, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Tank Inspection

You might wrestle with this question if you fall in love with a home only to find out during the home inspection that the septic system is in serious disrepair.

Properties usually have septic systems for one of two reasons: The home is in a rural area with no public sewer available or the home is older, and while it previously didn't have access to a public sewer, it now does—but may have not been hooked up yet.

The good news is that a bad septic system doesn't automatically mean you should flush your hopes of purchasing the home. Here's when a bad septic system is a deal breaker and when it's not.

Bad septic system: Repair or replace?

Septics are a simple system: water goes into the septic tank and displaces the same amount of water that travels to the drain field.

Common problems with septics include tree roots impacting the soil around the drain field. A simple fix could be as easy as clearing the roots. Or a septic may be failing because a tank baffle—what separates a tank from the drain field—needs repairing. In both cases, a septic professional can inspect the system and determine if a repair is possible. Such minor repairs may range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

But here's the thing: If there isn't an easy fix available, a failed septic will need to be completely replaced, or it will fail. Failure means the septic can no longer treat and distribute wastewater. Signs that a house needs a new septic system include toilets that drain slowly and standing wastewater on the ground above the drain field.

How much does a septic system cost to replace?

If a house is listed at a lower price because of a failed septic system, it could be a tremendous steal depending on the type of system that will need to be installed, says Wise. The cost of installing a new septic in the same place as the old one usually ranges from $10,000 to $15,000, depending on the soil and the type of system that will be installed.

Septic systems and financing

Keep in mind a bad septic system complicates the buyer's ability to finance a property.

It's often the case that the lender will require a working septic on traditional financing options. The FHA won't approve a loan on a house with a bad septic.

Who pays for septic system repairs: The buyer or the seller?

In most states, home sellers must pay for the cost of repairing the septic—or if it's irreparable, you might be able to persuade the sellers to replace it entirely.

When replacing a septic may not be worth it

If the leach field itself has failed, the entire septic system may need to be moved to a different location on the property.

In that case, a septic technician will survey the property for system requirements such as a location relative to any water sources. You'll also have to get a soil evaluation, which runs about $1,500. Soil technicians will be looking at soil type and slope of the property.

Then a septic contractor will determine if the lot is large enough to accommodate a new drain field. Many existing systems are even with ground level, but new codes may no longer allow this and require unattractive remedies. So if there's no place with appropriate soil to move the septic to, the homeowner may be forced to install what's called a sand mound system (a literal mound of sand) or a holding tank system. The former is unsightly, and the latter could require monthly pump-outs.

Keep in mind, a failed system could also have contaminated the soil around its original location, so do soil tests for potential ground contamination at the old site.

Septic systems and home improvements

If you're planning a large remodel in a home with a septic system, one thing to know is that any major improvements would require the owner to hook up to the public sewer system first (assuming it's available, of course). In this case, the condition of the septic tank isn't a factor as it will no longer be in use.

The cost of connecting to the municipal sewer system falls to the buyer, and is far from cheap.

The one upside, of course, is that you can point this out to sellers and negotiate a great bargain. In other words, a bad septic system can always be turned to your advantage.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Source: Realtor.com


4 Tips to Extend The Life of Your Septic System

- Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Sepic System

Most homeowners over-stress about owning a septic system. But, there's no reason to stress at all.

By and large maintenance is easy. You just need the correct information. So here's a quick breakdown of rules for avoiding being that over-stressed homeowner.

If your home features a septic tank, follow these 4 tips to ensure its longest life.

1. Know the specifics about your septic system

Know where it is, how many gallons the tank holds and when the last time it was pumped. If you have the original plans, permits, and maintenance records you get extra credit, but if you don't, don't fear, it’s not too hard to get you up to speed. A quick call to the local health district or agency’s septic system permit office will usually get you the original permits, as long as it was permitted, and those will provide answers for the first two things.

When was the last time it was pumped? Either you know that or you don't. If you don't, you really want to get the tank opened up so we can measure the scum mat and determine how close it may be to being ready for pumping.

2. Follow the time table

Your septic system’s individual pumping schedule is based upon factors that are not identical from system to system. There are handy tables available that tell you - based on the number of people who live in your home and the size of the tank - how often you're due for pumping.

Set a reminder for the next time your due in your personal calendar. Then be sure to schedule out your pumping when you get your reminder and don't be lax about it. Note that using the garbage disposal regularly will add solids to your septic tank and will increase how frequently you need to pump by up to 50 percent. So, if you are a heavy garbage disposal user, stop being one or set your schedule for twice as often.

3. Make it accessible

This is by far one of the most confusing things to understand about your septic system. The septic tank that gets pumped out is buried on your property. Following the installation of the septic tank, it usually stays out of sight and out of mind.

But one of the best things you can do is install risers to bring your septic system’s lids to the surface. The most obvious and critical reason to do so is that the pumper truck needs them exposed so they can clean the tank out for maintenance. If you've ever had to dig them up or pay for it, you don't ever want to do that again. It costs money to install risers and it sure beats the price of locating and digging them up every few years.

4. Check with your health district or agency before landscaping or adding new features

Most health districts or agencies have regulations about how close landscaping or other features can be installed to the septic system. They might sound like bureaucratic nonsense, but those rules are really in place to preserve the structural integrity and life span of your septic tank and leach field.

As a rule of thumb, bushes and grass have short roots and are about the only landscaping acceptable in a ten foot radius of your system. Roots will always find the closest source of water even if they have to bind up your leach field and break open your tank to get it.

Pools close to your system require a barrier to avoid chlorine getting in and killing the septic system. Driveways should never be over any part of your system, as the weight will crush the tank and pipes over time.

Landscape and other companies usually don't take septic systems into consideration when putting together proposals, so it’s up to you to ensure that there's nothing they are doing that's going to affect your septic system.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Source: angieslist.com


Hiring a Septic System Installer

- Friday, September 18, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Installer

If you hire a company to install a septic system, these steps would likely be taken:

Obtain permits: Before septic installation begins, the necessary permits required in your area need to be secured. The contractor you hire should do this task. If the contractor fails to do this, you could find yourself having to tear out the tanks and pay hefty fines.

Survey the field to be used: The plumber or septic contractor will perform topography surveys of the area and complete a blueprint and project plan to ensure that your new septic tank will be positioned properly. Local zoning ordinances may require the septic tank be placed a set distance from structures and/or the property line.

Excavation and site preparation: This includes bringing in sand and gravel for the leach field. Accurate site prep is essential for the system to work properly since the force of gravity provides the necessary flow.

Stub out the plumbing: The term "stubbing out" refers to having a building's plumbing in place, but capped at various points awaiting installation of fixtures. So at this stage the plumber installs the drain from the house to the septic tank, ready for connection. The pipe needs to have the correct "fall," or degree of decline over distance to use gravity. If a toilet or sink is installed in the home's basement, a sewage sump pump must be installed and piped into the main drain.

Install the septic tank: When the plumbing field is ready the septic tank is installed.

Connect the tank to the plumbing: The piping that runs from the interior plumbing system of the home out to the septic tank will be connected and sealed to prevent leaks. Any drainage pipes that are necessary to connect to a secondary drainage area to prevent excessive pooling of water will also be connected at this point. The system will be tested to ensure that it operates properly. Once all connections are completed, the septic field will be filled in to hold the tank in place and provide proper operation of the septic system.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information

Source: angieslist.com


Don't Make These Septic System Mistakes?

- Friday, September 18, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Believe it or not, your septic system needs maintenance on a regular schedule. "Out of sight, out of mind" definitely does not apply to your septic system. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean you can forget about it. Without proper maintenance, your septic system can have a breakdown — usually at the most inconvenient time.

Avoid these common mistakes and your septic system should have a long and efficient life:

1. Paper

Sure, toilet paper is made to flush down the toilet. But to protect your system, be prudent with the quantity of paper used. Toilet paper does NOT include tampons, sanitary napkins, disposable diapers or baby wipes. These items do not break down sufficiently in the septic tank and can cause clogs, resulting in possible damage.

3. Grease

Do not pour grease down the sink or any pipes leading to the septic system. Grease congeals and over time clogs pipes, builds up in the septic tank and eventually blocks drain field lines. Dispose of grease in your garbage.

4. Garbage disposal

For the sake of your septic system, forget you have one (if you do). It is too convenient to scrape all kinds of things down the disposal that absolutely should NOT end up in your septic tank — fruit and vegetable peelings and scraps, bits and pieces of bone and meat, as well as grease. These items do not break down in the natural atmosphere of the septic tank. Instead they build up and cause eventual clogging and blocking of plumbing pipes and possibly drain field lines.

5. Maintenance

Please don't wait until your septic tank is backing up to decide it is time to pump it. Just as your car requires regular maintenance to keep it running at peak performance, your septic system needs maintenance on a regular schedule as well. We recommend pumping your septic tank every 5 to 7 years, depending on how many people live in your house and how much water is used.

6. Save your money

Additives do not extend the life of your septic system. They just give a feeling of false security. Your septic system requires no additional additives to function properly.

7. Laundry

One of the wonders of modern life is the washing machine. No more going down to the river to scrub our dirty clothes with a rock. However, consider your septic system — as well as the environment — when doing your laundry. The washing machine puts out a tremendous amount of water, so try and wash full loads. Spreading your loads of laundry over several days is a good idea as well. Multiple loads on the same day may put a strain on your drain field lines.

8. Cat litter

Even though the box of cat litter says it's flushable — DON'T. Not if you have a septic tank system. Cat litter does not break down totally and will clog and build up in the septic tank and lines. The convenience is not worth the expense of a repair.

Being mindful of what goes down your plumbing lines and out into your septic system will go a long way to ensuring the efficiency and lifespan of your system.

For more information on septic systems and septic system inspections, contact Morse Engineering and Construction angieslist.com