Septic System Maintenance for Pet Owners

septic system, septic and pets

Most homeowners know better than to throw solid objects down the drain. For pet owners, though, additional precautionary measures are in order. Pets and septic systems can coexist, though you need to be extra mindful. Pet and pet byproducts can cause harm to the septic system’s tank and pipes.

Pet Hair

Pet hair is a common drain-clogging material, and while it’s biodegradable, it does take a while to completely break down. Cats especially like to sit inside kitchen sinks, leaving behind fur. You can easily keep pet fur at bay with a mesh strainer. We often discover excess pet hair during a septic pump. A simple $2 strainer can prevent this.

Pet Products

Pet shampoos may contain unnatural ingredients. This includes chemicals that can upset the septic system’s pH balance and good bacteria. The same goes for chemicals contained in flea and tick sprays. Consider natural cleaning products, even if intended for human use.


Some dogs have a tendency to dig miniature craters in your yard. Larger breeds can dig deep enough to expose the pipes. While a dog’s paws are unlikely to damage the pipes, this may disrupt the drain field. This can mess with the field’s ability to let waste back into the water table. This is also just as bad for your dog, because it could be exposed to partially treated waste water.

Cat Litter 

Our OSS inspections also commonly reveal cat litter. Regardless of what the package says, please do not dispose of kitty litter down the drain. The litter petrifies the poo, making it harder for septic bacteria to break it down.

We Maintain Septic Systems for Pet Owners

Lil John Sanitary Services tackles various pumping jobs, including grease trap cleaning. Contact us if you have a four-legged family member. Pets and septic systems do not always complement one another if owners are not careful.

Septic System General Maintenance

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

Do You Need to Clean Your Septic Outlet Filter?

septic outlet filter, clean septic filter

A clogged septic system can be due to multiple causes. Perhaps you throw items down the drain that don’t belong inside a septic tank. Another cause is a clogged outlet filter. We’ll explain how this filter works and why cleaning this component is just as important as pumping the septic tank.

What Is an Outlet Filter?

An outlet filter for a septic tank is not unlike a mesh strainer for your kitchen drain. The screening device is made of slotted plastic and is located in the septic tank outlet. Like any filter, it collects solid material found in grey and black water. Over time, the filter begins to clog as it accumulates more solid particles.

How Often to Clean the Outlet Filter?

Cleaning intervals vary depending on multiple factors, such as house size and number of occupants. An OSS inspection will determine an appropriate interval, which is between three to five years for most households.

Keep in mind that the filter requires professional cleaning. You can’t just remove it and run a hose through it like with a car or HVAC filter. A professional can also examine the filter for signs of damage and assess whether a replacement is necessary.

Consequences of a Dirty Outlet Filter

When an outlet filter becomes less efficient, more solid particles bypass it and enter the septic tank. This leads to backups well before it’s time for a scheduled pumping.

We’ll also point out that older septic systems might not have an outlet filter at all. An inspection can make this determination so you can install one, if need be. Most modern septic system installations come with an outlet filter.

We Clean and Install Outlet Filters

Lil John Sanitary Services handles the dirty work, from septic system maintenance to grease trap cleaning. An outlet filter is an inexpensive contraption that prevents costly repairs; take care of this component with regular maintenance.

Septic System Outlet Filter Cleaning

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

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 →