07:25AM | 06/18/02
Member Since: 03/13/00
1675 lifetime posts
Where I live the contractor that installs the system is required to file a plan with the county. If yours has the same requirement, you can get a copy of the plan from them.


03:34PM | 06/18/02
Member Since: 01/31/00
76 lifetime posts
I live in Clackamas County in Oregon. I believe our county also requires a plan be filed. I will do that!! I don't know why I didn't think of that myself. Thanks!!!


07:33AM | 07/16/02
Member Since: 07/13/02
3 lifetime posts
A couple points. First, never put anything in your septic system. All
the commercial products that claim to clean up problems, improve your
bacteria, etc are just marketing hype. Adding copper sulfate to kill
roots is another no-no. It will also kill the bacteria you want in your
septic system, and the pass through of copper which is a controlled
heavy metal may be a violation. Next, anti-bacterial soaps. This is
more marketing hype. Soaps have been antibacterial since they were
discovered -- why else would we wash with them? To get technical, soaps
are the salt of a weak acid and stronger base. When they dissolve in
water, they make it alkaline. They are also organic, so they disolve
grease and the alkalinity causes bacterial cells to rupture,
(officially, cell lysis). The 'new' soaps are like the new improved biz
that evolved out of TV commercials in the 50s. Rather than go on and
on, you can get information on-line at the National Small Flows
Clearinghouse, an EPA supported information center at West Virginia
University. Small flows is what septic systems are all about. The
Clearinghouse has information modules geared to the average homeowner
that are downloadable. You can also subscribe to their free journal, SF
- The Small Flows Quarterly. The phone number is 800-624-8301. The web
page is

There is also an online information source at Cornell University, but I
don't have the link here even though I work more closely with their
people and information packets. I'm sure a search by google would come
up with 100,000 Cornell hits. You might just try and
then search from there. They are the New York State extension service
host organization, so the information should be easy to locate.



08:29AM | 07/16/02
Member Since: 03/13/00
1675 lifetime posts
Hey RocketJ, a question:
My low pressure system has 3 tanks. I was advised by a professional to put copper sulfate in the LAST tank. That way it never gets into the first 2 tanks, where the bacteria do their work (since gravity moves the water "down" from one to the next).
Other than your mention of the possible issue about heavy metal, do you see any problem with this? Or, for that matter, other anti-root products being put into the last tank of a muti-tank system?
This is a concern to me because I have a lot of trees near my drain field.

[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited July 16, 2002).]


06:20PM | 07/17/02
Member Since: 05/02/01
17 lifetime posts
With the # of trees and roots near your field, I would not hesitate to use the copper sulfate in moderate amounts.


07:43AM | 07/28/02
Member Since: 07/13/02
3 lifetime posts
The 'professionals' I interface with can be roughly divided into two groups. On the one hand are soil scientists, health dept and environmental agency staff, and Licensed Engineers. They all pretty much say don't throw toxic materials or 'enhancement'additives into your system. On the other hand are 'service professionals' who install, repair and maintain systems. Many of them have advocated use of copper sulfate in 'moderate amounts' to control roots. The difference I perceive between the two groups is that the first group looks at the 'big picture' and sees the potential deleterious effects from the combined use of toxic products by many system owners, whereas the service personnel look at your picture and tell you what will keep your system running longer. I was advised once to add a cup of copper sulfate a month to my system or else in 5 to 10 years I might need to replace the tank. That is the issue facing the individual - can I afford to replace a tank prematurely or can I engage in a practice that if combined with other sources may harm other people. In a simple world, the system designer tells you not to have trees around your system. I didn't answer your question because it is a value judgement you have to make. There are points on each side. I also couldn't comment on your particular system without more specific information.



03:33AM | 07/31/02
Member Since: 03/13/00
1675 lifetime posts
A thought-provoking and helpful answer.


03:36AM | 08/20/02
Member Since: 08/19/02
29 lifetime posts

Unless you have a homemade septic tank made of barrels, plywood, etc., I can't see why you'd need to replace it.

Commercial septic tanks are normally constructed of either concrete or some type of plastic and unless the tank has somehow been cracked and is leaking there'd be no need to replace it.

Depending on use, tanks do need to be pumped after a certain number of years because the solid matter that sinks to the bottom finally builds too high. This is normal.

Drain fields occasionally need to be dug out and rebuilt because they eventually sludge up and cease to percolate.

But I'd be highly suspicious of anyone telling me I had to replace the tank itself and I'd make them show me why.

Sounds to me like someone trying to sell you a brand new -- and very expensive -- septic system.


01:39PM | 09/23/02
Member Since: 07/13/02
3 lifetime posts
To shed some light on the last comment about a need to replace septic tanks, I agree tanks should be rather permanent, but things can happen. Don't ask me why, but there is always the case where someone drives a heavy vehicle over the tank. The tree roots discussed are a potential problem. Soil shifting due to poor design or construction. And expanding the house size. Systems are designed for a certain level of use. I have seen some Counties that regulate the number of bedrooms in a house according to the size of the sytem. Others stipulate the number of adults using the system. So if you expand the number of bedrooms, the building permit may require additional tank volume and leach field size. Often, the difference in cost between different size tanks is slight compared to installation, and one might elect to replace with a larger tank rather than the complexity of a second tank. By the way, for those who have trouble falling to sleep at night, EPA recently started shipping copies of its new Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual, code number EPA/625/R-00/008 (February 2002). It's 8 1/2 X 11 and about 7/8's inches thick. As a citizen, you are able to request a free copy (please don't abuse the privilege).
Click to reply button Inspiration banner


Post a reply as Anonymous

Photo must be in JPG, GIF or PNG format and less than 5MB.

Reply choose button


Post new button or Login button

Follow banner a
Newsletter icon Flipboard glossy Facebook Twitter Pinterest Youtube Rss icon