Septic Problems

Why Doesn't My [New] Septic Work?

In Texas, the rules currently governing septic systems are minimum standards. In other words, these rules only define what is the worst system that can be legally installed.

Most systems provided these days unfortunately only meet these minimum standards. If you are a minimum user, then a minimum system (aka a "builder's grade" septic) might be okay. If not, you'll probably experience problems.

Here are some of the most common causes of the problems you may be experiencing.

   1. Owner "misuse" or "abuse";
      a. too much water use for the design or equipment
         i. constantly
            1. leaking toilet, faucet, shower head
         ii. intermittently
            1. weekend wash days
            2. large "garden" tubs or long showers
            3. guests or parties
            4. multiple, simultaneous water use activities
      b. use of garbage disposal instead of garbage or compost
      c. toilet paper
         i. too much
         ii. oil treated (aloe, vitamin E)
         iii. "fluffy" (quilted)
      d. using the toilet instead of the garbage or trash can.
         i. Tampons
         ii. Condoms
         iii. Wet wipes
         iv. Cigarette/cigar butts
         v.Mop/carpet cleaning water
      e. use of toxic chemicals
         i. drain cleaners
         ii. excessive antibiotic soap
         iii. excessive bleach
         iv. toilet water treatments (ie: Tidy Bowl)
         f. drug interactions
         i.antibiotics
         ii.chemotherapy
   2. Owner neglect
      a. lack of periodic solids removal (pumping)
      b. lack of periodic service and upkeep
         i. clean the air filter(s)
         ii. clean the effluent filter(s)
         iii. system equipment performance check(s)
         iv. scum and sludge levels check (see pumping above)
   3. Poor installation by Installer
      a. selected on low price alone
      b. insufficient training, experience
      c. no attention to service-ability
         i. doesn't understand
         ii. doesn't care
         iii. doesn't do service
   4. Inadequate/improper design by Designer
      a. selected by builder/contractor due to low price
      b. provides the smallest, cheapest-to-build solutions
      c. bad design
         i. misclassified soils
         ii. failed to recognize groundwater impacts
         iii. failed to recognize surface water impacts
         iv. failed to recognize slope impacts
         v. failed to understand equipment limitations
         vi. blindly followed State rules (only provide MINIMUMS)
      d. insufficient knowledge
         i. little to no hands on field experience
         ii. no independent self study
         iii. doesn't understand liabilities
         iv. works primarily for contractors (focus on cheap)
      e. insufficient training, experience
         i. servicing systems
            1. doesn't know how
            2. doesn't care
            3. doesn't do service
            4. Low quality equipment
               a. selected on low price alone
               b. that's what the Installer sells
               c. cheap and easy-to-install is the only consideration
            5. Poor review or inspection by Agency
               a. poor attention
               b. insufficient experience
               c. insufficient training
               d. inadequate management

Through all of the above, the Agency and Agency personnel reviewed all the above, granted a permit, inspected and approved the construction, and issued a license for the use of your system. The Agency has the public health and trust to assure homeowners get good systems.

After buying your home there is one matter under your control: Operation and use of the system. All systems have limitations, and you must operate your system within those limitations. If not, you will not only experience problems, you will shorten the effective life of your system.

Prior to buying your home, however, you can be very clear with the builder that you don't want a "builder's grade" system. You expect a good design and installation. After all, once they're gone, you will have to live with it. It needs to be right because it directly impacts your ability to enjoy your new home.

Call Snowden Onsite Septic for advice on how to get a system you'll love.



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