The Suffolk County Department of Health Services Office of Wastewater Management may have records of the septic system location for a single family residence if it was constructed in 1973 or later.
The homeowner should call the office at (631) 852-5700, between 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M., and must supply the property tax map number, and the approximate year that the house was originally constructed. If the lot is located on a subdivision map, the map name and lot number are also helpful in finding older records
SEPTIC SYSTEM BASICS
There are two basic components to a septic system
• The septic tank
• The cesspool (soil absorption area)
Here is the how the septic system works:
• Waste flows from the home into the septic tank.
• Organic solids float to the top and inorganic solids sink to the bottom of the tank.
• Natural occurring bacteria in the septic tank convert the organic solids to liquid.
• The clear liquid in between the "solids" and "sludge" layers flows into the cesspool
How does a septic system fail? SOLID BUILD-UP!
By not servicing and maintaining your system properly, solids build up within the septic system and flow into the leaching field. This clogs the leaching field and could permanently destroy the field.
As well, household cleaners like detergents, toilet cleaners, bleach, and disinfectants kill the natural bacteria in the septic tank.
CESSPOOL SYSTEM BASICS
Here is the how the cesspool system works:
• Waste flows from the home into the cesspool.
• Organic solids float to the top and inorganic solids sink to the bottom of
• Natural occurring bacteria in the cesspool convert the organic solids to
• The clear liquid flows out the sides of the tank and into the surrounding
How does a cesspool system fail? SOLID BUILD-UP!
By not servicing and maintaining your system properly, solids build up within the tank and clog the pores of the cesspool walls. This will prevent liquid from escaping the tank into the surrounding soil. In addition, the presence of inorganic household substances in the tank, like toilet cleaners, bleach, and anti-bacterial soaps will also turn into solids, clog the cesspool walls, and cause a system overflow.
SOLUTIONS: septic tank should be pumped of solid buildup every 3 years (as recommended by the Suffolk county department of health) so no solid matter goes into the overflow cesspool causing cesspool Failure.
A cesspool is the draining component of the system, this should be checked every 3 years as well. If the cesspool fails there are only 2 remedies for this.
*The FIRST remedy is called HYDRO-JETTING along with chemical (sulfuric acid), this service is the best service available, and the process is done by using water to restore drainage. Water is pumped through a plastic pipe into the sand at the bottom of the cesspool to (FLIP THE SLIME) out of the sand so the chemical (sulfuric acid) can dissolve it quickly and most efficiently. DURING THIS PROCESS the water-level in the cesspool will start to drop instantly, allowing for usage to resume like normal.
The SECOND remedy is AERATING along with a chemical (sulfuric acid) to open the drainage in the cesspool to allow the water to seep into the earth naturally.
Therefore there is NO NEED for costly pumping.
SULFURIC ACID: this chemical must be used to restore the cesspools drainage, because the bacterial/ enzyme count was too low. (This chemical is LEGAL to use AND IS environmentally safe.
BACTERIA /ENZYME TREATMENTS: this is a good way to keep the system working properly, However if your washing machine goes into the septic system it is not recommended to use bacteria because the soaps and especially bleach kills off the bacteria/enzymes.
1) SEPTIC TANKS: should have at least 250 gallons of capacity for each person in the house. Standard sizes are 750, 1000, 1200, and 1500 gallons. They can be constructed of precast concrete, plastic or fiberglass. Older tanks may be made of steel, which often corrode over time, or they may be built in place of block construction. Larger tanks are often divided into two chambers to improve solids separation. Manholes and inspection ports are located in the cover for service and inspections.
2) CESSPOOLS: A cesspool incorporates both functions of a septic system in one structure. It consists of a large perforated tank in which digestion takes place, surrounded by an absorption bed where suspended and dissolved solids undergo final digestion and water is filtered. Cesspools are not as efficient as other systems, more prone to failure, and difficult to restore to operation.
Inside the tank, bacteria will reproduce in the floating scum mat and bottom sludge layer. By a process called anaerobic (without oxygen) digestion. Most solid matter will be converted to water, sewer gas and a small volume of indigestible sludge which must eventually be pumped out. The rate and degree of liquefaction is determined by various factors. Included are: temperature, pH, bacterial efficiency, water usage, amount and types of waste and amounts of household cleaners, bleach, drain openers, and detergents added to the system
GREASE BUILD UP IN SEWER LINES
We have found that a large number of sewer line blockages are caused by grease. Over time, large quantities of grease flowing through the drain build up on the walls of the pipeline. This deposit can clog the pipe entirely, or collect solid matter to cause a blockage.
How grease blockages are cleared
Mechanical clearing of a drain clogged with grease removes most of the buildup. After mechanical clearing of the drain, the wall of the pipe retains some of the grease. To entirely clean the wall of the pipe, a high pressure jetting machine is used to clean the pipeline. This procedure removes all build-up present in the pipeline.
Where the grease comes from:
Grease is normally the result of cooking by-products. Grease build up can occur from the following products:
• Meat Fats
• Cooking Oil
• Butter & Margarine
• Food Scraps
• Garbage disposal units, while grinding scraps into smaller pieces, do not prevent grease entering the pipeline.
Preventing grease entering the drain:
It is impossible to stop ALL grease from entering your sewer system, however a few things can be done to minimize its presence. Empty scraps from plates and cooking items into a refuse bin, or bury under soil. You can use sink strainers to also minimize greasy items entering the drain, empty these into a refuse bin.
Maintaining you grease trap (where applicable)
• Never let solids enter your grease trap
• Inspect your grease trap on a monthly basis
• Check chemicals entering the grease trap are designed to do so. ie. Biodegradable
TREE ROOTS VS. SANITARY SEWER LINES
Root Growth in Pipes:
Roots require oxygen to grow, they do not grow in pipes that are full of water or where high ground water conditions prevail. Roots thrive in the warm, moist nutrient rich atmosphere above the water surface inside sanitary sewers.
The flow of warm water inside the sanitary sewer service pipe causes water vapor to escape to the cold soil surrounding the pipe. Tree roots are attached to the water vapor leaving the pipe and they follow the vapor trail to the source of the moisture, which are usually cracks or loose joints in the sewer pipe.
Upon reaching the crack or pipe joint, tree routes will penetrate the opening to reach the nutrients and moisture inside the pipe. This phenomenon continues in winter even though trees appear to be dormant.
Problems Caused by Roots Inside Sewers:
Once inside the pipe, roots will continue to grow and if not disturbed, they will completely fill the pipe with multiple hair like root masses at each point of entry. The root mass inside the pipe becomes matted with grease, tissue paper, and other debris discharged from the residence or business.
Homeowners will notice the first signs of a slow flowing drainage system by hearing gurgling noises from toilet bowls and observing wet areas around floor drains are completing the laundry. A complete blockage will occur if no remedial action is taken to remove the roots/blockage.
As roots continue to grow, they expand and exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force exerted by the root growth will break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Severe root intrusion and pipes that are structurally damaged will require replacement.
Tree Roots in Sewers:
Tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are generally the most expensive sewer maintenance item experienced by City residents. Roots from trees growing on private property an on parkways throughout the City are responsible for many of the sanitary sewer service backups and damaged sewer pipes.
Home owners should be aware of the location of their sewer service and refrain from planting certain types of trees and hedges near the sewer liners. The replacement cost of a sanitary sewer service line as a result of damage from tree roots may vary from $1000 to $5000.
Susceptible Pipes to Root Damage:
Some pipe material is more resistant to root intrusion than others. Clay tile pipe, that was commonly installed by developers and private contractors until the late 1980's, was easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. Concrete pipe and no-corrode pipe may also allow root intrusions to a lesser extent than clay tile pipe.
PVC pipe is more resistant to root intrusion because it usually has fewer joints. The tightly fitting PVC joints are less likely to leak as a result of settlement of backfill around the pipe.
Types of Trees Responsible:
Various species of trees have different water requirements. Trees that have a high water demand characteristics have root systems capable of following water vapor escaping from leaking pipes and will exploit the source inside the pipe. The top six species of trees to exploit the moisture inside sewer pipes are listed in order below:
Other trees and woody shrubs commonly associated with sewer root problems are: Maple,
Cottonwood, Russian Olive, Apple, Pear, Lilac Honeysuckle and Chokecherry.
During drought conditions and in winter, tree roots travel long distances in search of moisture. As a general rule, tree roots will extend up to 2.5 times the height of the tree, and some species of trees may have roots extending five to seven times the height of the tree.
Root Growth Control:
The common method of removing roots from sanitary sewer service pipes involves the use of augers, root saws, and high pressure flushers. These tools are useful in releasing blockages in an emergency, however, cutting and tearing of roots encourages new growth. The effect is the same as pruning a hedge to promote faster, thicker, and stronger regrowth. Roots removed by auguring are normally just a small fraction of the roots inside the pipe.
To augment the cutting and auguring methods, there are products available commercially that will kill the roots inside the pipe without harming the tree. The use of products such as copper sulphate and sodium hydroxide are not recommended because of negative environmental impacts on the downstream receiving water. Also, these products may kill the roots but they do not inhibit regrowth.
The more modern method used throughout Canada and the United States for controlling root growth involves the use of a herbicide mixed with water and a foaming agent. The foam mixture is pumped into the sewer pipe to kill any roots that come into contact with the mixture. New root growth will be inhibited from three to five years after the treatment according to the manufactures.
A television inspection of the pipe to determine the extent of the root damage before the treatment application is recommended. Consult the yellow pages under the heading of "Sewer Service" for further information on companies that perform television inspections of pipes and root control.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS - CALL US FOR AN APPOINTMENT
YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM DEPENDS ON THE YEAR OF YOUR HOUSE
1972 to present
During this time period a home with up to four bedrooms would have a pre-cast septic tank as well as an eight foot wide by ten foot deep overflow cesspool also known as a leach pool. Which are constructed of pre-cast concrete, meaning they will not collapse. However they are non traffic bearing, so do not drive any type of vehicles near or over them. If you plan to add walkways or driveways it is recommended to change the system to traffic bearing status, as well to have the lines checked to make sure that they meet current codes and are in good working order. If your home is in a high water table your system will differ depending on the water table. Your home could have up to five overflow cesspools. Around 1980 companies started using plastic pipelines from the house to septic tank and overflow. If your house was built around this date or before the lines should be checked to sure that orangeberg pipelines were not used. Orangeberg pipe is material which consisted of tarpaper and cardboard material and will detearate, so have it checked before doing any of these projects
This system consists of two block style cesspools which are prone to collapsing however it had a good concept for their time frame, almost all of these systems used orangeberg pipelines ( which consisted of tarpaper and cardboard) this entire system is on borrowed time, you should have your two cesspools located and avoid these areas as much as possible...
1955 and Earlier
This system consisted of one block or brick style cesspool which are not very efficient and are very prone to collapsing and have three different types of pipelines, one is called orangeberg (which consist of tarpaper and cardboard) the second is called clay (which was usually installed in two to three foot sections) and are very prone to settling as well developing root infestation problems. The third is called cast iron, which has an outdoor life expectancy of about thirty years
Homes on sewer systems:
Homes on sewer systems usually are connected from the home to the street with plastic pipelines, however older homes have concrete pipelines (known as transit pipe). Usually in five foot sections, which are also very prone to root infestation. So before major projects such as walkway and driveway projects have the pipeline evaluated
Warning: If you are on a public sewer system you should not attempt to clean your pipeline because if you open the main house traps and if the blockage is in the street you can flood out your house with the entire neighborhoods sewage.
WATER AND MONEY SAVING TIPS:
DIY TIPS ON CLEARING DRAINS, STOPPAGES AND DRAIN MAINTENANCE.