Grenco Septic Systems and Excavation Services

Think Before You Flush!

When you’ve worked with septic systems as long as we have, you’ve probably seen it all. While we are not a company that pumps out septic tanks, we know that sometimes people flush things that are not compatible with a septic system. Here is our list of some big no-nos when it comes to flushing!

Feminine Hygiene Products

Very harmful to the system, flushing these products can cause blockages, especially in older systems that might have roots growing into the pipes. These items DO NOT break down over time and may cause other debris to build up around them if they get stuck causing a huge headache! Also, they add $46 BILLION to the cost of treating wastewater in  municipal systems. Here’s the truth: any solids that they screen out at a sewage treatment plant goes to a landfill…which is where your product would have ended up if you had just thrown it out in the first place! And please…do not flush diapers! 

Paper Products Other Than Toilet Paper

This means no napkins, facial tissues, or paper towels! They are formulated differently and cause blockages. Also…no baby wipes! Check out this article that shows the damage these little things can cause! Cotton balls and cotton swabs are also a big NO, as well as cigarette butts and adhesive bandages.. Again, these items just do not break down in the system (and even leach out harmful substances into the soil!).

Contact Lenses and Other Personal Items

You might be thinking…contact lenses? What harm can they do? Well, they are plastic so they don’t break down and they contribute to pollution in municipal systems. Condoms, also, should not be flushed (again they do not break down!) Dental floss can cause blockages and does not break down in the system. Also, flushing medicine/drugs; also bad for the environment and causes contamination.

Miscellaneous

Do not flush kitty litter and other pet poop!  Kitty litter can cause blockages (it can expand to many, many times its original size!) Also, do not flush grease, cooking fat, or oil.

We know that these are things you might already have known, but we always think it is a good idea to reiterate…because a bit of commons sense can save you a lot of money if your septic system is worry free!

 

Hurricanes, Flooding, and Your Septic System

Hopefully, everyone with a septic system knows and understands that they need to take special care of their systems. But what about during hurricane season? Thankfully, our region here in New England has not had a bad storm in quite a while (certainly not like the recent floods in North Carolina!) If we were to get a storm, though, it is helpful to know that the Environmental Protection Agency has created a list of steps to take to make sure everything is safe and usable after waters recede.

  1. Do not pump the tank if the area around the septic system is saturated. This may cause the tank to ‘float’ out of the ground and severely damage pipes. Until the ground dries out, it is best to ration water usage in the house or building.
  2. Do not use the system soon after the flood. Until the waters have gone down, the drain fields will not work properly. Also, shifting of the ground during a flood could have caused pipes to break. Get your septic system inspected after a flood. The good news is that most tanks are not damaged, but they can fill will debris and should be pumped and cleaned as soon as possible after flooding (again, once waters have receded and ground is no longer saturated)
  3. If you do have a mishap and sewage has come into the basement, be sure to disinfect the area using a bleach solution.
  4. Any electrical connections should be inspected before turning electricity back on.
  5. Be sure that the cover of the septic tank is in the correct position.
  6. If the grass cover over the system has eroded due to the flooding, it may be necessary to resod the area to restore grass cover.
  7. Avoid driving on the area of soil over the soil absorption field as this can cause compaction of the soil. This is can reduce the ability of the soil to treat the wastewater.
  8. And lastly, until the water table returns to normal, be gentle on the system and use it less. This will reduce the risk of backups into the home.

Have questions? Grenco will be happy to help! Call us at 401-295-9119 or visit our website for more information.

Progression of a Project

In June of 2017, Grenco worked on an excavation project where we created a terraced boulder wall to provide ample room for planting beds while at the same time preventing this hill from eroding into a pool area that was installed the week after we placed these boulders. This is what it looked after we created the boulder wall.

We recently had the opportunity to go back and see the project and were thrilled to see this:

The homeowner has been working hard on building the stairs and installing plants.What a great job!

Our greatest pride is partnering with our clients to help them realize their visions an area. While Grenco is known for our septic installations, these excavation projects are truly a joy for us.

If you are in need of similar services, call us! We are committed to bringing our expertise to you.

The Big Septic System Surprise

Man kneeling down and inspecting a septic system.

As we are sure you may already know, anytime a home is sold, there needs to be a thorough inspection of the building, electrical systems, and of the septic system. This is an important inspection for a property to pass. In general, lenders will not approve a mortgage on a property that has a failed system unless there are provisions to fix it. Here at Grenco, we get so many calls from Realtors and homeowners who have just had their septic system failed by an inspector. These failures are usually either  hydrological, or a cesspool exists on the property.

Finding out about a system failure a week before the closing is very stressful for seller and buyer alike. In addition to the disappointment felt by a buyer who may have their heart set on a certain home, the concern that seller’s have that they may never be able to sell the house is a very real one.

Most homeowners will say they have never had an issue with their system, but when that inspection report comes back and issues are noted, we have some advice:

If you had a new system installed 25-30 years ago when cesspools were allowed to stay in place, we think the best thing to do is to have the inspection done prior to putting the home on the market. This was you avoid any surprises.

If a new septic is needed and you can afford to install one, that’s a good selling point, as a new septic system can make a house more attractive to a buyer. If a new septic is needed but you don’t have the money than sell the property with a septic credit.

The most important thing that we can advise:

DON’T try to hide the problem or pass it on to the buyer. Most inspectors can tell.

Grenco is available to guide you if your septic system fails inspection and if a new one is called for, we can install it. Call us (401)295-9119 or email grencoexcavating@verizon.net

High Groundwater, Septic Systems, and Flooded Basements

Ponding groundwater that can affect septic systems, foundations, and gardens

Water issues always seem to creep up in the spring. Literally. Without the warm rays of the sun and water uptake from vegetation a much higher percentage of precipitation makes it to the ground water. The water can only move so fast through the restrictive soil so it continues to build up. Higher groundwater means the soil above has less capacity to soak up any rain water or snow melt (like a half wet sponge). Now the conditions are right for water intrusion into your basement, or septic system. It only takes a couple of rain events to completely saturate the soil.

Once the soil is saturated the rain water has nowhere to go so we get higher sheet flow across the landscaping. This is why it is so important to have proper grading and drainage. We get swamped (pun intended) with calls in the spring regarding wet basements, backed up leach fields, water in basement, etc. The solutions to most of the issues are as simple as installing gutter leaders away from the foundation. Maybe do some grading work to move sheet flow around foundations. Some fixes require more complex solutions. Such as routing the water into a pump basin and pumping it up into a retention pond or rain garden. There is always a solution.

We’ve been hearing about climate change and sea level rise for a while now. As sea levels rise so do the water tables on coastal properties, that’s common sense. How about those of us who live inland, are our water tables rising?  You would think so if the past few years are any indication. Colder wetter springs, heavier rain storms, permanent or temporary, is anyone’s guess. Bottom line is as long as Evapotranspiration isn’t happening the water is in the ground and looking for the path of least resistance.

Grenco can advise you if have any of the above issues. Call us 401-295-9119 or email grencoexcavating@verizon.net for more information.

Toilet Paper And Your Septic Tank

Your choice of toilet paper when you own a septic system is important.

It seems pretty simple, go to the store, grab a pack of that super-duper double ply toilet tissue that you’ve been using forever, and put it in the bathroom. But wait…is there a toilet paper that works best in a septic system? Are there ‘best practices’ to flushing your toilet paper away?  Let’s take a look!

So the first question is: Should you be concerned about putting toilet paper into your septic system? In a nutshell: NO. Toilet paper is made to be flushed and there is not evidence that septic systems have a hard time filtering out regular toilet paper. Flush your favorite toilet paper without a care as long as you don’t try to flush too much all at once. If you are still worried about harm to the system, there are a few things to consider.

  • While some people think that recycled toilet paper might be a good option and be better for the tank and system, there is a scant evidence to support this thought. The greatest benefit from using recycled toilet paper is that it is better for the environment.
  • Disintegrating toilet paper might be a great option if you are overly worried about damage. This type of paper disintegrates when it touches water and will be gone in a few seconds.
  • Stop wasting paper by using big wads and only use a minimal amount folded in half. This will help to make sure that a large amount is not being flushed all at once.  

We know we say it a lot…but it is the truth. Pumping and regular maintenance of your septic system i s the best way to keep it functioning for years to come. Grenco wants all of the systems we install to last for years and be a worry-free part of your home.

Septic System Additives: Do They Really Work?

Bacteria additives in your septic system may not work as well as advertised in your septic system and Grenco gives you their opinion on these products.

We’ve all seen the ads on TV or read them in magazines: Use Rid-X (or other brand of additive) to add bacteria and enzymes to your septic system. You might be tempted to try it.

Maybe you already have. The evidence that these types of products deliver what they promise is not very conclusive and we can hear you asking: Do these additives really work?

In a nutshell….NO. In our opinion, we think it might be better to save your money for other septic maintenance and quite (literally) you’d be flushing money down the toilet anyway!

These companies can use words and claims that make people think that by using these products they can avoid the trouble and expense of pumping or other basic septic maintenance. This assumption is wrong! There is no product that will help get rid of sludge, only removal by a vacuum truck!

The waste that is flushed into a septic systems contains millions and millions of bacteria that thrive in the environment that is a properly working system. While the packaging may promise to add bacteria for a ‘good balance’, the truth is, there is new bacteria added each time you flush.

The best way to keep your system in good working order is to not avoid maintenance and to be vigilant in making sure that nothing goes into the system that shouldn’t (feminine hygiene products, oils and grease, paper towels, food scraps, etc..).  Also, be mindful that you are not using excessive amounts of bleach or other cleaning products that kill the bacteria in the system.

The good news is that if you have used additives, you probably didn’t do any harm to your system, but we cannot reiterate enough that you don’t need these types of products to have your septic system in good working order. Save your money and know that each time you and your family go, you are adding some ‘free’ bacteria to your system.

Grenco is here to help with septic system installations in Rhode Island. Call now for information on starting your project in the Spring.

Holiday Stress On Your Septic System

Santa pumps out a septic system to call attention to Grenco Excavation latest blog

Tis the season for visiting….for eating….for gathering…and for septic system issues.

Family gatherings during the holidays are what it’s all about. Unfortunately they also put extra strain on your septic system.  So how do these issues start?

Kitchen and Food Prep

More time in the kitchen making scrumptious treats and holiday dinners will surely increase the amount of water being used. Be extra conservative with water usage when rinsing items or in running the dishwasher. Only run it when it is full. And remember: never dump food waste or oils down the drain.

Stagger the schedule for showers and baths

We know that morning is the prime time for people to shower and bathe, but consider staggering the times that people take their showers. This will help to reduce the amount of water entering your septic system. If guests are not flexible in their scheduling, request that your guests take shorter showers.

While we are on the subject of reducing water from washing: try not to run consecutive loads of laundry. Also, just like with the dishwasher, only run full loads and plan to do your loads over a period of several days.

Take Care What You Flush Down The Toilet

It goes without saying that feminine hygiene products should never be flushed (at any time of year!) In the nicest way possible, request that your guests remember not to flush these items and that excessive toilet paper usage is also to be avoided. Taking the time to let your guests know your wishes can help to avoid potential blockages.

When In Doubt Pump It Out

Pumping your system if it has had issues in the past is a wise choice. Try to schedule it close to your gathering. This will give your system a buffer as no doubt, there will be guests who will need to use the bathrooms.

We hope this helps get you prepared for your holiday, because, seriously….no one wants a system backup to ruin their Holiday fun.

Think it is time to replace your system after the holidays? Give Grenco a call and let’s plan to start 2018 right!

 

Is Your Septic System Ready For Winter?

With the time change last week, we know that the usual thing to be reminded of is to change the batteries in your smoke detector. Since we are not in the smoke detector business, we would like to add another thing to check when you change your clocks: The health of your septic system, especially in the Autumn.

Grenco Excavation provides an example of a failed septic system with mud, puddling, and wet ground in the backyard.

Here’s the hard truth: if you’ve been putting off having your septic system looked and/or fixed, the time may be running out for you to do anything about it until the Spring thaw happens! If you’ve seen the tell-tale signs of a septic issue such as puddling in your drain field, catching whiffs of a funny smell, or having a gurgling noise from your plumbing when you flush or run the water, get your system checked before the hard freeze happens. Like it or not, once the snow is falling in Rhode Island the temperatures have dropped and the ground freezes. It can be pretty much impossible to perform septic maintenance and repairs even with heavy-duty equipment.

Winter is beautiful but not if the ground is frozen and you are unable to repair a failed septic system.

If your septic system fails in the heart of our New England winter, you may not be able to solve the problem until the ground starts to thaw in the Spring. Imagine not having a functional septic system for weeks (or maybe months!) This is not just an inconvenience, it can also be extremely unhealthy.

Be proactive! If you have seen signs and suspect that your system is a having some issues, get it checked out. The peace of mind you will gain knowing that you can pass the winter season without problems is priceless. Of course, if after the inspection you learn that need a new system, Grenco can help.

Grenco Excavation installs a new septic tank.

Septic Tank Deterioration

Grenco Excavation installs a new septic tank.

I feel pretty confident saying nobody wants to spend more than they have to on a new septic system. So why install a new tank if there’s already one in place? While holding off on replacement may seem to be the frugal way to go, taking the time to install a new tank can make the most sense in the long run.

Here are a few reasons I feel it’s money well spent:

  1.  The gasses created in a septic tank deteriorate the concrete roof of the tank over time. This results in a thinner concrete roof and exposes the structural wire. Therefore weakening the structure which can result in cracks and possibly collapse.

2.  The older tanks used concrete baffles to absorb the energy of the black water entering the tank and to keep solids from carrying over to the leach field. Just like the roof, these baffles are exposed to the deteriorating gasses. On most of the older tanks we look at, the baffles have fallen off. Failed baffles can result in solids carrying over to the leachfield therefore shortening its lifespan.

Diagram showing a two compartment septic tank such as the type that Grenco installs.

  1.  The older tanks were single compartment. New tanks have two compartments. The first makes up 2/3 of the tank and is where the black water enters the tank. The solids stay in this side of the tank and the “clear” layer carries over to the second compartment. Here the effluent will lose some more of the total suspended solids before it makes its way to the leach field.

 

The new tanks we install are water tight. This prevents the black water from entering the water table before treatment. More importantly it prevents ground water from entering the tank and overdosing the leach field.

Tanks don’t last forever. Even if you don’t replace the tank now eventually you will have to. It’s going to be much more cost effective to do it while we are on site installing the leach field. It is much easier to replace the tank then as we will have all of our equipment ready to do the job.

If you have questions about your tank and need some advice on the best option to take when it comes to replacement, contact Grenco, we will be happy to help you make the best decision for your situation.