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Posts Tagged ‘plumbing problems’

When to Have Septic Pump Service

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Your septic tank is an enclosed sewage system that services your home only. Normal, properly maintained septic systems should only require pump service every 3 to 5 years.

The system consists of a tank, PVC pipe, sand and gravel. The tank may be made out of a variety of materials, including concrete or plastic. Sewage leaves your home and goes into the underground holding tank.

The tank has a baffle in it that keeps solids on one side and allows fluid to flow to the other side. From there, the fluid leaves the tank and enters the drain field through a pipe called a French drain. This pipe has holes in it that allows the liquid to flow into the gravel bed. The liquid then gets filtered by the land in a process called percolation.

As you and your family go about your daily business, you generally will not have to worry about your septic system, as long as you follow some simple rules. These rules include:

  1. Never flush anything other than septic-safe toilet paper into the system. This means no paper towels, tampons, sanitary napkins, diapers (even if they are labeled as flushable) or anything else.
  2. Never dump old oil, mineral spirits, paint, paint remover, or paint thinner into the drain system. The tank has natural bacteria in it that helps break down the solids. These materials can kill that bacteria and the septic system will fail.

If you ever have any doubt about whether something can be flushed, just throw it in the garbage. It’s much cheaper to do that than to clog the system and have to have a pump service to come and empty the tank. The worst possible thing is for your septic system to back up into the house. If it ever reaches that point, you may have more serious problems than just having to hire a pump service.

There are some signs that your tank needs service.

  1. There may be a lot of moisture around the tank cap when there hasn’t been any rain.
  2. You smell sewage.
  3. The toilet backs up or overflows for no obvious reason.
  4. Sometimes you can hear drains gurgling when they normally don’t.

A septic service handles waste water from residential and business buildings. They make use of tank trucks with pumps designed to remove the waste from your septic tank relatively fast. Most companies can provide emergency service for an extra charge. “Emergency service” can even take place during business hours if service is needed right away. So take proper care of your septic system and schedule a pump date. You’ll save money as well as keep your system in good shape.


Troubleshooting Your Sump Pump Noise

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

A sump pump is one of those things in life that you never think about until it stops working. Oftentimes, you won’t know there is something wrong until you’re ankle-deep in water. Sometimes, though, you may get lucky and notice sump pump noise, a telltale sign that trouble is down the road. Keep an ear out for uncommon noises like banging, gurgling and humming, and conduct routine maintenance for years of worry-free use.

Here’s what to do if you hear those uncommon sounds from your sump pump.

Gurgling: This sump pump noise usually indicates that water is flowing back down the pipes after the pumping cycle. A common cause for this is a lack of or a malfunction in your check valve, which opens as water rushes up from the pump and closes when flow lessens. If your model has a check valve, you can find it on the PVC or ABS pipe directly above the sump basin. It is fitted with rubber slide sleeves and held on with radiator clamps, so you can fix it relatively easily by loosening the clamps and replacing the valve. ALWAYS be sure to unplug the pump before making any repairs.

Banging: A banging or thudding noise is usually caused by a rush of water streaming back down the pipe and hitting the closed check valve. If you have a particularly long rise of pipe from the basin, having the check valve installed higher up might lessen the thud. Since this requires cutting into the line, it is a good idea to have a licensed, professional plumber do the job.

These sounds can also be caused by pipes hitting wall joists or other framing structures. A simple way to check for this problem is by grabbing onto the pipe when the pump kicks on, as vibration can rattle the pipes. If this is the problem, securing the pipe with additional clamps should alleviate it.

Humming: This is a common sound when the pump is running, but if the noise is constant, then the system might be running without actually moving any water. A common cause for this is the lack of a relief hole between the pump and the check valve, which will develop an air lock in your system. Drill a 1/16- to 1/8-inch hole into the plastic PVC or ABS pipe at a downward angle, so water shoots out back into the basin between the pump and check valve.

Another cause could be a clog somewhere in the line, most commonly at the pump itself. This can be fixed by removing the sump pump, taking its bottom plate off and clearing away any debris. If the problem persists, call a licensed plumber, as the problem is probably further down the line.

Humming can also be an indication that the pump’s motor has failed, which means you will have to replace the unit.


Backflows in Your Plumbing System? Here’s What to Do

Monday, August 5th, 2013

The health of your local water supply — and the water in your home, as well — depends on the prevention of backflows. Drinking water should never come into contact with water meant for other purposes. When it does, the quality is at risk. Read on to learn what conditions cause a backflow and what you can do prevent contamination.

What is a backflow?

A region’s residential and commercial plumbing systems and local water supply are designed with the goal of preventing contamination. The local water supply must maintain a higher pressure than the water supplies of individual buildings. This pressure difference also must exist between buildings to uphold the integrity of the water supply, as well as the rest of the plumbing system.

Backflow occurs when pressure becomes higher in an outlier, causing sewage and other contaminants to move in the wrong direction, toward the drinking supply. It can also happen when the pressure of general plumbing pipes becomes higher than the potable water pipes within a building.

What causes backflow?

Two primary causes make conditions ripe for a backflow:

  • Back-siphonage occurs when negative pressure is created within the plumbing system’s supply pipes. For instance, turning off the water supply at one end of the block to make repairs creates negative pressure. Meanwhile, in another home, a hose is submerged in water to fill a small wading pool. The pressure differences cause a backflow, and the nonpotable water from the pool is sucked back into the household’s plumbing system, possibly contaminating the general water supply.
  • Back-pressure occurs when the pressure in a home’s plumbing system becomes greater than the pressure in the local supply. When this happens, the plumbing system succumbs to the pressure, causing nonpotable water to contaminate the water supply.


If your home’s sewers and drains never have been tested for backflows, hire a plumber to inspect the system. The plumber will most likely recommend either of the two most common methods for preventing contamination: installing an air gap (AG) to maintain the integrity between potable and other plumbing lines or employing a mechanical prevention device.


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