If you own a septic system, it requires some routine maintenance in order to avoid problems. Plumbers are not going to tell you how to maintain your system. The more often you have problems, the more times they can make a service call and make money. Plumbers are not cheap. Although the price can vary, it can easily cost $70 just to have a plumber grace your doorstep with his presence. Proper maintenance of your septic system is essential if you want to avoid or at least minimize the need for a professional plumber.
Unlike those city dwellers with city sewer systems, rural homeowners need to be aware that “what goes in” does not always “come out.” Solid wastes, although they do break down to some extent, will remain in the septic tank. The liquefied wastes flow out into the septic drain field. The drain field is easy to find. It is the area of the yard that always stays green, even in the driest of weather. Periodically, the septic tank must be pumped out, taking out all the solid wastes that have accumulated. How often it has to be pumped depends on what and how much you put in it. About every three years or more you will have to shell out several hundred dollars for this service. A well-maintained or lightly used septic system can run longer between periodic pumping.
Being one of those city slickers for the majority of my life, I was somewhat naïve about septic systems. I was not having any problems, so there was no reason to have any mental exercise on the topic. That changed abruptly one evening when the bathtubs began filling up with nasty looking water. It slowly receded but began reoccurring with an ever-increasing frequency and eventually seemed to be backed up for good. Time for some professional help. A neighbor and fellow septic system owner suggested that I have the septic tank pumped since I had lived in the home for six years and never had the service done.
The company representative arrived and prodded around the area of the drain field with a long, thin metal pole. Without any sympathy or emotion, he informed me that my drain field was clogged, and that for a mere $500, he would pump the tank and clear the drain field, BUT there was no promise on the success of clearing the clogged drain field. If his attempt failed, replacing the drain field would be several thousand dollars.
Hours later a large tank truck arrived. The driver exited the truck with shovel in hand. After prodding the ground to identify the outline of the septic tank he began digging. The first hole disclosed the access cover to the septic tank and the second, the J-Box where the septic tank discharges liquid waste to the drain field. Few things smell worse than an open septic tank, and I attempted to stay up-wind of the opening. The driver pulled out a large diameter hose from the truck and plunged the end into the open access to the septic tank. As the process neared its conclusion, I braved the nauseating smell to peer into the depths of the tank. Even with the majority of the contents pumped out, it was not a pleasant sight.
Cleaning the clogged drain field was next on the agenda. A high-pressure water hose was run into the J-Box and down the several drain lines of the drain field as I watched the indescribable contents flow back into the J-Box and septic tank. It was with some satisfaction that they announce that the operation appeared to be a success. No promise for how long. The relief of the moment faded quickly when I discovered that, even with the septic tank empty, I still had sewer backed up in the pipe between the house and the septic tank. $500 and I still had the same problem! By this time, the company representative had returned. He ran a regular water hose down the sewer line, and this unplugged the line. I’m thinking to myself, “Was this my real problem all along?”
All seemed well for a couple of months. Then, the sewer began backing up as before. Using the same hose trick as the septic company, I had modest success, but it was always short lived at best. My best results were when I connected the hose to the drain line of the hot water heater. Hot water seemed to work better than cold water, but the problem persisted for the weeks that followed.
One day when I returned home from work, my wife told me about a TV commercial she had seen about Rid-X and suggested we try it. Even though I had not previously owned a home with a septic system, I did remember hearing of the Rid-X product. I was a bit skeptical but willing to give it a try. It would be vastly cheaper than calling a plumper. Besides, my wife always claims that I don’t listen to her advise, and this would be an opportunity to gain a few credits, and like most husband, I sorely needed them.
Rid-X comes in powder and liquid forms. The company says that they both work the same, but I was more confident that the liquid would make it all the way from the toilet to the septic tank and not get stuck some where along the way. Although the bottle directions said that the container had enough for three doses, once a month, I poured half the bottle into the toilet. A single flush and the colored liquid was on its way. A month later I poured the remaining contents into the toilet and flushed it away.
I am quiet pleased with the results. Since I started using Rid-X, I have not experienced any sewer backups. So often products do not live up to their advertising, so I was happy find that Rid-X actually worked so well. For other tips on maintaining your septic system, I recommend that you visit the company’s informative web page: www.rid-x.com.