When we pumped your septic tank and/or inspected your system, we noticed a trickle of excess water entering the tank from the house sewer line. We have left food coloring tablets with this document so you can test your toilets.
A septic system is designed to handle a limited amount of water in a 24 hour period, and a system will perform properly and last longer if water conservation is practiced, as well as the hydraulic load being spread out evenly throughout the week. This means spreading large water usages, such as laundry loads and bathing, throughout the week. Example:Don’t do 6 loads of wash on a Saturday.
There are 3 sources of excess water that are hard to detect, so they need to be investigated carefully:
- Leaking toilets. Put 1 food coloring/leak detector tablet in each toilet tank (open the lid on the tank). Wait 5 minutes and see if any blue/green color enters the toilet bowl. If color enters, you may have a leaky flapper valve or a malfunctioning shut-off float valve or water is overflowing the 1 diameter overflow pipe. Check the water line in the tank to see if there is an overflow problem. If so, re-adjust the float bowl arm by bending it down so the shut-off float valve will shut off the water before it reaches the top of the overflow pipe. If the water level is okay, then your flapper valve is leaking. Replace it with a new one obtainable from the hardware store or building center. They cost $4-$5 and can save your leach field from becoming saturated.
- Malfunctioning water softeners. These devices go through a back flush cycle every 1-3 days, during which salt brine is back flushed through the bead medium in the softener tank, carrying away the iron or other minerals that make the water hard. The brine is drained into the septic tank. Often, this back flush cycle will stick in the ON mode and not shut off properly. Usually, you can run a back flush cycle manually, overriding the automatic cycle. Do this and watch to be sure the cycle lasts only as long as it is set for, and does not continue forever. If it is malfunctioning, have the unit serviced by your softener company.
- Basement ground water sumps. These are the round black plastic basins in the basement floor with an electric pump inside and a drain line. They are installed to prevent wet basements and are fed by a French drain system installed in the perimeter of your foundation wall/footing. The flow from these basins is supposed to be pumped outdoors to a separate dry well or to a surface or storm drain, and NOT into the septic system. Check to be sure your sump pump is not discharging into the septic tank. If you trace the drain pipe from the pump and it branches into the 3” sewer main,then it is going into the septic system. A proper installation will have the pump drain line exiting the house by itself.