Summer Septic System Care: The Best Maintenance Tips for the Hottest Season

septic system care, summer septic maintenance

Septic system issues tend to arise more frequently in the summer. This is due to common hot weather activities, such as outdoor barbecues, increased showers, etc. Learn the ins and outs of summer septic system care and why it’s crucial during this time of year.

Be Mindful of What Goes Down the Drain

This applies year-round but is especially important in the summer due to increased activities. More everyday items are used, such as cooking oils, disposable wipes, paper towels, and condoms. These items belong in the trash and not down the toilet or drain. Toilet paper is the only manmade substance that should go down the toilet.

Schedule a Septic Pumping

Arrange for a septic pumping BEFORE a large social gathering. This is especially the case if it has been more than three years since the last pumping. This maintenance process greatly reduces the likelihood of a system failure at the most inopportune moment.

If you are hosting a party for a large number of guests, you may also want to consider renting a portable toilet or two. This will certainly take some of the pressure off the septic system.

Landscape the Right Way

Many homeowners renovate their landscape during summer. Grass is actually a great cover for drainfields. The same goes for shallow-root plants. Be sure, though, to add a riser if you don’t already have one. Otherwise, a technician will have to dig up the ground to access the opening. Avoid planting trees, shrubs, and vegetable-producing plants. These have deep root systems that can damage the septic pipes.

Leave Summer Septic System Care to Us

With the increased activity at home, summer is the ideal time to schedule an OSS inspection. Call Lil John Sanitary Service for periodic maintenance. Summer septic system care is a must if you plan to hosg large gatherings and open your restroom to guests.

Summer Septic System Maintenance

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

Septic System Flooding: How Does This Affect Your System and Drain Field?

septic flooding, drain field flooding

Aside from hot weather, summer also sees its fair share of storms. Many homeowners know septic system flooding is a serious issue. However, they don’t understand why and how to minimize the damage. We’ll examine some of the ramifications of flooding and explain how you can be proactive.

The Consequences of Septic System Flooding

When the drain field is exposed to standing water, it can become waterlogged. The consequences of this could include having wastewater back up into your toilet or sink. This can pose a serious sanitation issue and health hazard. 

The flood actually seldom damages the septic system itself. However, any openings may allow floodwater and accompanying debris to enter. Areas the floodwater can enter through include the tank cover and the manhole cover, as well as the inlet and outlet pipes. The debris and silt that get in may cause solid waste in the tank to rise and plug the outlet and inlet pipes.

What Homeowners Can Do

If the drain field is flooded, you may not even be able to run your sink or flush your toilet. The best solution is to limit water usage as much as possible. As soon as the water recedes, arrange for an OSS inspection to evaluate for potential backups. The system may require a septic tank pumping

During this time, don’t place excess weight over the drain field. This compacts the soil, making it harder for the system to expel effluent. Don’t drive a vehicle or place heavy machinery over the area. You shouldn’t be doing this ever but it’s especially a no-no during a flood.

We Inspect Septic Systems Post-Flood

We service residential septic systems and commercial grease traps throughout the Bellingham area. Call Lil John Sanitary Services after a storm that results in puddling water over the drain field. Septic system flooding requires professional inspection.

Summer Septic System Inspections

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

Portable Toilet Decoration Tips for a Wedding

portable toilet decoration, portable toilet

We admit that portable toilets can be an eyesore. They are units people associate with industrial sites and work zones. Nevertheless, they are a requirement for lavish events like outdoor weddings. Portable toilet decoration is one way to keep the units from being an overt visual distraction.

Be Mindful of Location

Decorations are not just about adding décor. Placement is also a part of strategic decorating. Keep portable toilets away from the areas where people will congregate. Sure, guests may have to walk a bit further to answer nature’s call, but it’ll keep the venue looking nice. It’s also a nonissue if indoor restrooms are nearby. If an indoor venue exists, then consider placement in the back of the building.

Portable Toilet Decoration Ideas

You can attach balloons, ribbons, and flowers to the portable toilet’s exterior. Do the same for handwashing stations. You can also create an elegant pathway leading to restrooms. If the celebration is going to extend to the night hours, add light scones to create a beautiful light display.

Another idea is to add a refreshments table near the portable wash stations. This can be a table with complimentary items, such as moist towelettes, mints, perfume, and hand sanitizer.

Decorate the Inside

The interior of a portable toilet can be unpleasant, especially to the nose after multiple uses. Consider adding a scented flameless candle and perhaps a towel basket and flowers. Occupants won’t appreciate having to set personal items on the porta-potty floor. So, add suction hooks so occupants can hang a coat or purse. 

We Provide Portable Toilet Rental

Are you tying the knot soon? Call Lil John Sanitary Services for porta-potty rentals. This is a part of our bigger service that also includes septic tank pumping and OSS inspections. Portable toilet decoration helps the units match their lavish surroundings.

Portable Toilet Rentals for all Occasions

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

Septic Tank and Holding Tank: What’s the Difference?

Home Septic Tank Pumping

Homeowners often use the terms septic tank and holding tank interchangeably. The two, though, are actually two entirely different mechanisms. People often call us to say they need to pump out their holding tanks. What they mean is they need a septic tank pumping.

What Is a Septic Tank?

Homes not connected to the municipal sewer line have a septic system. The septic tank collects all the waste and wastewater that flows out of the home. It doesn’t just hold waste, though. It also separates heavy solids from light solids; the latter floats to the top while the heavy solids sink to the bottom. In the center lies water that exits out the outlet pipe and into the drain field.

What Is a Holding Tank?

A holding tank also stores household wastewater. The main difference is that holding tanks do not have an outlet pipe. The waste remains inside until pumped out. Holding tanks are rare these days and are often in homes near bodies of water. Homes near lakes and rivers often lack soil suitable to act as a drain field. 

Pumping Intervals for Septic Tanks and Holding Tanks

Since holding tanks cannot remove waste on their own, they require more frequent pumping. Of course, this depends on how much water a household uses. The average household with a holding tank may require a pump every two to five months. Septic tanks, on the other hand, only require pumping every two to three years. Again, the interval may be shorter or longer depending on water usage.

We Take Care of Your Septic Tank

Our OSS inspections cover residential septic systems. For businesses, we perform grease trap cleaning. Call Lil John Sanitary Services for a cleaning or checkup. We’ll know what you mean whether you say you need a septic tank or holding tank pumping.

Home Septic Tank Pumping

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

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 →