Hosting Hell: 10 Things That Will Go Wrong - And How to Prevent Them »
If you want to avoid entering the hosting hell dimension, here are 10 potential entertaining glitches, and how to avoid them.
If you want to avoid entering the hosting hell dimension, here are 10 potential entertaining glitches, and how to avoid them.
Try our top home-winterization tips and ideas to prevent major winter blues.
Don't wait until it's too late. Repairing and replacing your pipes is important, especially if you live in areas with extreme weat…
Sewer repairs are crappy. Fact is, they require a lot of work, can cost a lot, and mean you don't get to shower or use the facilities in your house until they are fixed. My wife and I were married at the beginning of this month and all the family and friends who attended strained the system at our mid-century house in Ballard and gave us our first challenge as newlyweds - a sewage back-up in our basement (thankfully, the house-guests had left). We rented a rooter and managed to snake out some roots we knew were a problem about 30' down our lateral line (right under a neighbors tree) but during the process we collapsed about 6' worth of pipe right where the sewer line bends out of our house and heads towards the main. Total block. My new father-in-law had worked with Jim Dandy before and recommended them (I was a little nervous after reading the so-so reviews here and elsewhere). I called them and they had a plumber, Shawn, come out within the hour. He identified the block, tried a rooter head, confirmed the line was broken, and then used a radio-locator to pinpoint the location, which was luckily not under our concrete slab. He worked really fast, let me pepper him with questions, and was super nice. He was there for an hour and a half but only charged me an hour. He also set up an appointment with an estimator (Chris) early the next morning. Chris came in and took a look at the location, and gave me a pretty good bid price. He was willing to be flexible on aspects of the job, and after consulting with him, we agreed on a division on labor that saved us quite a lot more. I and some willing friends dug a portion of the excavation that afternoon (4' down x 8' x 4' - we were sore!) and he had a crew come out the next day and dig down another 3' (digging more than 4' down can be dangerous without bracing, which the crew did when they arrived) as well as pull out the broken lateral line, replace it with PVC, completely rebuild a nearby downspout tie-in with PVC, and add a 4" clean-out line to the surface. We did the backfilling. As soon as the crew was done our second plumber, Jon, came out to scope the new pipes and clean out the remaining roots. He was able to get a 4' rooter tip to the main-line (120' away) and we took a look at the remaining concrete pipes on both sides of the house. They looked pretty good for being 65 years old. He even cleaned out the sand in our downspout p-traps. Despite the late hour, he did not charge us for overtime (which he technically should have). Like Shawn, he worked hard and fast and then billed slightly less time to us than he could have. I really liked everybody associated with the sewer mess. They were nice, sympathetic, flexible with the estimate, and fast. The project cost me way, way, way less than I thought it would have. It wasn't cheap - but it didn't break the bank. We were pretty lucky with the location of the break and didn't have to worry about city streets or sidewalks, big rocks, or under slab. What could have been a financial nightmare was resolved with only minimal pain and a lot of good learning experience. I would recommend Jim Dandy to anybody, and would also recommend tackling a sewer break with a willingness to ask questions, a willingness to do some of the grunt-work, and a friendly attitude. I think plumbers are like anyone else - if you get all mad at them for telling you the painful truth about your problem, you might not get the best service. If you can laugh about it a little, get engaged with the problem-solving, and see them as on your side, they really will be.
A-Rated company! We needed a lot of work done in our house and Ally Plumbing was professional and helpful the entire time. When we initially called, the receptionist Bri nicely explained all of our options and was patient with us as we tried to figure out a good date for them to come out. Our technician Tyler was honest with us when he came to inspect the work and give us our estimate. He did not pressure us to do anything and even offered suggestions and advice. Their pricing was very fair for the amount and type of work we needed done. They provided a quote via e-mail the same day, which I highly appreciated. They also fixed everything in only a few, short hours and so far everything is working GREAT! They also sent us something in the mail to thank us for choosing their services.
I called Price Busters after receiving replies from two other plumbing companies to install a PRV . Josh was a little late in arriving but sprang into high gear immediately. I was with him while he worked and was impressed by his fastidiousness as the job progressed. He took great care to solder, tape and connect everything. I am not a plumber but I can recognize professionalism at little more than a glance. He had immediately scoped out the job to be done and proceeded accordingly. I will not hesitate to call this company in the future.
If you're like most people, you don't give another thought to the water that goes down the drain after washing dishes, taking a shower, or flushing the toilet. But, if you are one of the many homeowners who rely on a septic tank to dispose of your wastewater, it would be smart to give your septic system some attention every so often.
There are four main parts to your septic system:
It's the homeowner's responsibility to make sure all four parts of your septic system are in working order. A failed septic system is costly to repair or replace, can lead to health hazards in your home and community, and may even lower property values in your neighborhood.
Every homeowner who uses a septic system needs to ensure it stays functional. There are three elements to maintaining the system:
Inspecting a Septic System
Inspections should be at least an annual task. Some systems may require more frequent inspections. A homeowner can perform these inspections on his or her own, but hiring a professional is recommended. Contractors who regularly work with these systems generally have a better idea of what to look for and can better identify problems.
To begin, locate your septic tank. If the entry point is buried and there is no map, start by looking at the direction of the outbound pipes in your basement. Follow the pipes' direction into your backyard to locate the tank. When you think you're close, insert a probe into the soil until you find the piping. Your inspector should come ready with an insulated probe to use.
You should only have to go through this process one time. Once you find the piping and the tank, sketch a map for future use. Doing so will not only benefit you and future contractors you hire, but also the next owner of the home.
When the tank is located, you or the contractor will have to dig to uncover the manhole cover to access the tank's interior. Next, test your household water systems to make sure the septic system is working properly. Flush the toilets, turn on the faucets, and run any appliances that use water, like the dishwasher or washing machine. If water drains noticeably slowly, there could be an issue in your septic system that needs immediate attention.
Once you've determined that the system is in good order, it's time to measure the sludge and scum levels. Sludge collects at the bottom of the tank and is comprised of solid wastes. Scum floats to the top of the tank and is comprised of fats and oils. Both enter the tank through the inlet tee baffle, or the pipe that directs outbound water from the home to the tank. On the opposite side of the tank is the outlet tee baffle, which directs treated water to a second compartment in the tank for further treatment, or to the drain field. This baffle is the marker to measure scum and sludge against.
Scum levels should be at least 3 inches above the bottom of the outlet tee baffle. Sludge levels should be no more than 1 foot below the bottom of the baffle. If either of these are closer to the bottom of the baffle than they should be, it's time to have the tank pumped.
Next, take a look at the drain field, tank walls, and pipes. Any cracks in the walls or pipes need to be addressed right away to prevent septic system failure. The drain field should not have any odd or foul smells, and the grass shouldn't be soggy or full of puddles. Uncommonly green grass is also a sign that the drain field isn't functioning properly.
Pumping is usually necessary every three to five years, but it ultimately depends on the size of the tank, the number of people in the household, and the types of appliances that are used. For example, a family of six with a 1,000-gallon tank might pump every 1.5 years, but a family of three with the same size tank might pump closer to every four years. Additionally, garbage disposals fill up the septic tank more quickly and result in the need to pump more often.
A professional should always pump the tank. They will have the right equipment and expertise to know how to safely and effectively remove the sludge and scum from the tank. Additionally, the fumes that are emitted from the tank are noxious and can be dangerous if inhaled.
Always be present for the pumping process. Though the contractor will have the right education and experience to do this task properly, it's important that you oversee the project. The maintenance of your septic system is ultimately your responsibility, not the contractor's. When observing the contractor's work, make sure:
Septic System Failure Prevention
While inspections are usually an annual task and pumping occurs two or three times per decade, prevention is something that must always be kept in mind.
Never flush or pour chemicals down the drain. This includes, but is not limited to:
Introducing these substances to your septic system can cause damage to the tank or piping and contaminate the groundwater in your area.
Don't flush garbage down the toilet, including:
Practice water conservation to prevent flooding your system. Though your tank can handle many gallons of water, too much water at one time can overwork the system and cause solid waste to enter the drain field. Some tips for water conservation include:
Preventing septic system failure also involves keeping the drain field clear. Never drive or park over the drain field, and don't allow livestock to walk over it. Heavy equipment should also be kept away from this area.
In general, a septic system is safe and easy to maintain, especially if you regularly inspect and pump it. However, there may come a time when you run into a problem that needs to be addressed quickly and correctly.
Clogs or backups are usually caused by improper or too-infrequent pumping. Your tank is completely full, and solid waste is being forced through the outlet tee baffle and clogging it. Some signs that you have a clog include:
To address this problem, call a professional to clean out your tank right away.
Broken Lines or Pipes
Broken elements of your septic system need to be addressed as soon as they are spotted. A number of factors can cause baffles, lines, and pipes to break or crack, including:
Using a special camera, a contractor should be able to locate the crack or leak and replace the part.
To prevent pipe damage, call 811 before you begin any project that would require you to dig. A professional can detect which areas you need to stay away from. Remember, there could be more than just your septic system beneath your land - wires and cables may also run through your property.
Prevent damage due to tree roots by periodically having a professional take a look at the trees nearby and assess their risk. Don't attempt to remedy the issue yourself using chemicals like copper sulfate or by cutting down the tree. A professional will know how to solve the problem for the long term and should be knowledgeable of any local environmental regulations regarding chemicals.
When a septic system is working properly and is adequately maintained, harmful bacteria will be removed and won't affect the groundwater, people living in the home, or neighbors. However, a septic system failure comes with health risks that are best to avoid as much as possible.
Illnesses Caused by Failed Septic Systems
Nitrates normally get filtered out before wastewater reaches the drain field. However, if they are still mixed in with the water exiting the septic tank and make their way into drinking water, they can lead to an illness that affects infants. Methemoglobinemia, more commonly referred to as "blue baby syndrome," reduces infants' ability to move oxygen through their blood.
Other diseases that are associated with failed septic systems include:
Water Pollution Caused by Failed Septic Systems
If your septic system is near a body of water, there is a chance that harmful bacteria and viruses from a failed septic system could spread farther than your property using the local waterways. Nutrients in the wastewater can cause algae to grow much faster than normal, blocking necessary sunlight from shining into the water to support other plant and animal life. Additionally, these plants will reduce oxygen levels in the water, leaving the environment less habitable for some animal life.
Too much algae and other plant life can also reduce the ability for people to use a body of water for recreational purposes. What's more, the bacteria and viruses included in the wastewater can also cause disease in the people swimming, boating, or fishing in the water. Fish and shellfish can also become contaminated, making them harmful to eat.
Your septic system is highly important to your home, and as such, it's vital to find a good company to help you with maintenance. Before hiring anyone, do some research into the company. Look online for reviews and testimonials. Also, ask your friends, family, or colleagues who have septic systems who they work with and why.
Program Benefits and Costs
Every contractor will offer different products and programs, even though they'll generally be able to accomplish the same tasks. Be sure to read the fine print and determine what services the company includes in their different programs.
These programs will also vary in cost between different contractors. In 2016, septic tank pumping and cleaning cost anywhere from $200 to $900, with most people spending about $375. Compare and contrast pricing as well as services covered by the program you choose.