Winter Maintenance for Your Septic System

winter septic maintenance, septic system maintenance

The Bellingham area isn’t the coldest region in the state by a long shot. However, temperatures still dip low enough to cause water to freeze. This makes winter septic system maintenance all the more important. Be mindful of these care guidelines as we hit the peak of winter.

1. Stay Off the Drain Field

Keep heavy vehicles and equipment off the drain field. You should also keep foot traffic to a minimum. Too much weight causes the soil to condense. While you should follow this rule year-round, it’s even more important in the winter. Weight causes the frost to travel deeper into the soil.

2. Insulate the Drain Field

Prevent water in the septic pipes from freezing by insulating the ground. You can do this in one of two ways. You can let the grass grow an additional six inches. The more common option is applying mulch across the drain field.

3. Stop Faucet Leaks

If any of the faucet or shower heads leak, call a plumber to fix the problem. Under extreme cold, trickling water can freeze, often at the point where the septic pipe leaves the home. You could also regularly pour hot water down the drain.

4. Check the Grease Trap (for Commercial Establishments)

As you may or may not know, grease and oil congeal (solidify) under cool temperatures. Semi-liquid oil solidifies in the drain and obstructs the opening. This occurs even more frequently in the winter. This is why businesses need to be sure their grease traps are emptied regularly.

We Handle Winter Septic System Maintenance

Septic pumping is a good idea at the beginning of the New Year. This way, the system is off to a fresh start. Contact Lil John Sanitary Services for OSS inspections and more. Winter septic system maintenance ensures that frost does not negatively impact function.

Winter Septic System Checkup

Serving Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, Everson, Deming, Lummi Island, Nooksack, Blaine, Whatcom & Skagit Counties, Maple Falls, Bow Birch Bay, Custer, and Acme

How Many Portable Toilets Do You Need for Your Event?

portable toilet, portable restroom

Are you planning a New Year’s or related event? Any gathering that takes place outdoors requires portable restroom rental. Naturally, organizers are going to wonder how many portable toilets they need for the size and scope of their event.

Have Ample Portable Toilets Available

First, you need to do a headcount that includes all guests AND staff members. The general rule of thumb is one portable toilet for every 100 people at the event. However, we believe you need to take additional factors into consideration, such as duration of event. Events lasting an entire day or even multiple days require additional restrooms. 

Each portable toilet can last about 250 uses before it reaches capacity. The longer the event runs, the more likely toilets will reach that capacity. For weekend-long events, a servicer may need to pump or replace the units.

Additional Factors

The number of people and duration of event are the two biggest factors. However, additional elements come into play as well. One other factor is alcohol consumption, which increases trips to the loo. Increase the total number of toilets by 15% to 20% if you’re serving alcohol. Likewise, there are cases in which you might need fewer restrooms. Such may be the case if the event is only a few hours in duration and/or nearby public restrooms are available.

Additional Rentals

Aside from regular portable johns, you also need to include handicap-friendly restrooms and handwashing stations. For every 20 toilets, include one handicap-accessible restroom. As for handwashing stations, have one for every four toilets. 

We Provide Toilet Rentals for Bellingham Events

Inadequate restrooms are a common complaint at events. To avoid guest dissatisfaction, contact Lil John Sanitary Services. Portable restroom rental is an extension of our OSS inspection service. A consultant will help you determine the correct number of portable toilets for your event type.

Portable Restroom Rental and Cleaning

Serving Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, Everson, Deming, Lummi Island, Nooksack, Blaine, Whatcom & Skagit Counties, Maple Falls, Bow Birch Bay, Custer, and Acme

What’s the Ideal Septic System Size?

septic system size, septic system

More residents are choosing to install a septic system when they build a new home. This is usually more affordable compared to connecting it to a municipal sewer line. When you plan the installation, you will need to determine the optimum septic system size for your type of residence. 

Why Septic System Size Matters

Septic systems hold wastewater for about 24 hours. During this time, the bacteria separate the solids from the liquid before releasing the effluent to the drain field. If the system is too small for the size of the home, the pipes will build too much pressure, preventing waste from entering the tank. The excess water dilutes the bacteria and inhibits waste breakdown.

An overly large septic system is just as counterproductive. A large tank won’t have enough water to encourage bacteria growth.

Both scenarios lead to inefficient waste breakdown, causing increased septic pumping and inspection intervals. 

Septic System Sizing Guidelines

Water usage rather than house size determines the septic system size. Of course, larger homes typically have more occupants, resulting in more water use. 

Consider this rough guide:

  • Two-bedroom or 1,500-square-feet home: 750-gallon septic system
  • Three-bedroom or 2,500-square-feet home: 1,000-gallon septic system
  • Four-bedroom or 3,500-square-feet home: 1,250-gallon septic system

These are just rough estimates. Size requirements may also vary depending on region-specific building codes. An inspector will determine the optimal size based on all of the above factors. 

The takeaway here is that bigger is not better. Homeowners also need to exercise daily septic practices to keep the system in good order. This means all the common-sense care, such as not dumping solids down the toilet or pouring grease down the drain.

We Maintain Your Septic System

Lil John Sanitary Services performs septic checkups for homes and grease trap maintenance for Bellingham businesses. Septic systems are not one-size-fits-all units; septic system size matters for optimal waste. management

Maintenance for all Septic System Sizes

Serving Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, Everson, Deming, Lummi Island, Nooksack, Blaine, Whatcom & Skagit Counties, Maple Falls, Bow Birch Bay, Custer, and Acme

Grease Trap Vs Grease Interceptor: What’s the Difference?

grease trap, grease interceptor, grease trap vs grease interceptorIf your business includes a commercial kitchen, then it most certainly has a grease trap or a grease interceptor. Most people are only either familiar with the former, or they use the terms interchangeably. While the two may serve the same function, they’re not exactly identical.

What Is a Grease Trap?

Let’s start with the more common grease trap. As you may know, a grease trap collects fats, oils, and grease (FOG) from cooking deposits. This prevents the solids from entering the plumbing system.

You can usually locate the grease trap directly under the sink. The size ranges from a shoe-box to a small refrigerator. The contraption is designed for low-flow plumbing, meaning it can handle plumbing pressure up to 50 gallons per minute.

What Is a Grease Interceptor?

A grease interceptor is for larger scale applications and can handle a flow rate exceeding 50 gallons per minute. Due to the heftier bulk, technicians have to install interceptors outside of the building rather than under the sink. They’re usually installed underground with access via a manhole cover. Continue Reading →

How Does Laundry Affect Septic Systems?

septic system laundryDid you know that doing laundry affects a septic system’s health? The correlation is more indirect, but the ramifications are quite serious. We’ll explain how a seemingly harmless chore like washing clothes can cause harm to the septic system.

Laundry and Septic Systems: What’s the Connection?

The average American household completes about 300 loads of laundry every year. Depending on the washer model and setting, the appliance may use anywhere from five to 45 gallons of water per wash cycle.

Why is this bad for the septic system? The wastewater from the wash cycle exits the appliance and enters the septic tank. The septic system needs time to separate the waste from the water. A sudden surge of water can disrupt the tank’s treatment solutions. This leads to plumbing backups and a flooded drain field. Continue Reading →

Do Water Softeners Affect Septic System Health?

septic water softenerResearch on the relationship between septic systems and water softeners go as far back as the 1970s. The prevailing belief is that water softeners have a negative impact on the septic tank and drain field. Do the studies support this notion?

How Water Softeners Work

Water softeners remove mineral salts (usually calcium and magnesium) from water that can cause deposits in pipes and on flat surfaces. They provide your household with soft water and also prevent mineral buildup in the pipes.

Water softeners remove the mineral salts using resin beads. The water softener’s brine tank stores salt and adds water to the system to produce the brine. The salt water cleans the resin so the beads can do their job in a continuous cycle.

Do Water Softeners Damage Septic Systems?

The idea is that the brine discharge harms the beneficial microbes in the septic tank. This hampers the septic system’s ability to break down solids. The homeowner now needs to schedule more frequent septic tank pumping, or so that’s the belief. Continue Reading →

Why Summer Hygiene Is Important for Your Event

summer event hygieneAre you planning a fun-under-the-sun family-oriented event? The Bellingham area hosts all sorts of social functions during this time of year. Summer event hygiene is especially important. Therefore, we recommend portable restrooms and sanitizer stations.

Summer Hygiene Facts

Obviously, hygiene in any event is important. However, the issue is of greater concern during the warm season. Germs naturally spread in environments with people crammed into a tight space. Roughly 80% of communicable diseases spread through physical contact with another person.

Germs also abound near areas with food. This includes, for example, the lid of a bowl of potato salad or the spout of a soft-serve ice cream dispenser. These are breeding grounds for listeria, which can cause fever. Continue Reading →

Septic System Lifespan: How Long Do They Last?

septic system lifespanDo you know your septic system’s date of installation? Many homeowners wonder about their septic system’s lifespan. Others assume it will last as long as their house remains standing. Are septic systems durable enough to last a generation or a single occupant’s lifetime?

The Typical Lifespan of a Septic System

We can’t really give you a solid figure regarding a system’s longevity because so many variables come into play. If we had to give you a number, we would say about 25 years, plus or minus 10 years. This is based on the factors we describe below.

Septic System Lifespan Factors

Septic systems undergo different degrees of stress, depending on the household activity. Do you regularly use the garbage disposal? How often do you do the laundry? A full family with multiple kids will subject a system to more stress than, say, a retired couple of two. Continue Reading →

Can You Clean Your Own Grease Trap?

clean grease trapTo keep your grease trap functioning at its peak, you need to empty it every now and then. Can restaurant owners clean their own grease traps, or does this type of cleaning require a professional? We can’t provide a straight “yes” or “no” answer, because you must consider multiple variables.

Cleaning Your Own Grease Trap

First, you need to know what kind of grease trap you own. Larger dining establishments and cafeterias usually have units which process between 500 and 2,500 gallons. You will find these outside and right below a manhole cover on the company’s premises. Do you have the manpower, time, and resources necessary for cleaning out a grease trap of this monstrous size? In this scenario, you almost definitely need to hire a professional service company.

Smaller establishments may have smaller units located inside the shop. DIY cleaning for these traps is far more manageable. However, even if you decide to go the DIY route, your county may require licensure. King County, for example, requires owners to have a Certificate of Competency. Some states require a septage hauler’s license. Continue Reading →

What Are the Advantages of Septic System Pumping and Maintenance?

septic pumping advantagesWhen was the last time you scheduled a septic pumping, if ever? Neglecting routine maintenance can cause problems down the road. As you will see, the advantages of septic pumping go well beyond clog prevention.

Septic Pumping Benefits at a Glance

With respect to septic upkeep, homeowners tend to have an ‘out-of-sight-out-of-mind’ mentality. This attitude may keep you from experiencing the advantages of an annual cleaning. Regular pumping keeps the water clean. A backed-up septic could potentially contaminate the freshwater supply. Maintenance ensures bacteria and other harmful effluent stay out of the water the household uses on a daily basis. Thus you benefit by staying healthy.

Prevents Odors

A properly running septic system disposes wastewater into the leach/drain field. A backup can cause the waste to overflow into the soil, creating boggy and unsanitary areas. This also leads to foul odors similar to rotten eggs and sewage. It can also create a miasma known as sewer gas, which consists of methane and ammonia gas from household waste. The smell is not unlike sour mayo and is quite puke-inducing. Continue Reading →