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My Basement Smells Like Septic. What Now?

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Uh-oh. You went down to toss in a load of laundry and noticed an unpleasant smell coming from your basement. What does it mean? And what should you do about it?

First, try not to panic. We actually hear this question a lot.

Second, it may require a little investigation on your part, but the foul odor emanating from the lower level of your home is most likely the result of one of the following.

IT COULD BE A DRIED-OUT FLOOR DRAIN.

Beneath every drain in your house is something called a trap. The trap looks a little like a sideways letter “P” and it’s there to ensure that water can drain properly.

However, these traps also have another purpose: to keep hazardous sewer gas from coming in. They do this by using water to create a seal that prevents the gas from entering your home—which means if the water evaporates and the trap dries out because a drain is not used very often (e.g., a guest bathroom or shower), the gas can seep in and pretty soon you’re holding your nose.

If the smell is not remedied by running water into the drain, it may be time to call a professional.

YOUR DRAIN PLUG IS LOOSE (OR MISSING).

Inside each P-shaped trap is a cleanout plug. If this plug has become loose or if it hasn’t been replaced for some reason, sewer gas can easily escape into your basement. You can check to see if the plug is in place by removing the drain grate. If you need a replacement plug, your local hardware or home improvement store should have one.

IT COULD BE A CASE OF A TOILET SEAL GONE BAD.

Does your toilet seat wobble when you sit on it? This could indicate a bad wax seal between the base of your toilet and the toilet flange (the small piece of hardware that connects the bottom of the toilet to the drain pipe in the floor). This can happen if the seal dries out or if the toilet was reinstalled improperly after a project such as laying new flooring.

Because a leaky seal can allow sewer gas to escape, you may need to replace it by removing the toilet and installing a new seal.

YOU HAVE EJECTOR PUMP ISSUES.

Similar to a sump pump, which collects groundwater to prevent flooding in your home, an ejector pump collects wastewater from your basement area. When it reaches a certain level, the wastewater is pumped out to the septic tank or sewer system.

Because ejector pumps deal with waste and sewage (and not just groundwater) a crack, clog or improper seal in the system can allow sewer gas to leak out and permeate your basement.

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE BAD SMELLS COMING FROM YOUR BASEMENT

We’ve touched on a few of the most common reasons for an unpleasant odor in your basement, but other issues such as poorly vented fixtures or damaged sewer lines may also be to blame.

The most important thing to remember: DON’T IGNORE THE SMELL.

Leaking sewer gas is never good. Aside from the stench, the gas may contain harmful bacteria that can cause health issues including headaches and nausea. Also, in case you need a reminder, sewer gas consists mainly of methane, which is highly combustible. (Read: you definitely don’t want your basement blowing up.)

WE TAKE YOUR ODOR PROBLEMS SERIOUSLY.

When bad smells and other plumbing problems happen, it’s always best to seek the help of a professional.

At Paradise Valley Septic, we know exactly what to look for when you call us to investigate your basement odor. Our experienced technicians will do a thorough inspection and walk you through the next steps so you can put your mind at ease knowing your problem is expert hands.

Call or send us a message today to experience our Grade “A” service firsthand!

 

I Have a Large Family, How Often Should We Pump?

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If you drive your car without getting the oil changed or performing any other regularly scheduled maintenance, in no time at all, your car will stop working and it could cost you a fortune to repair it. The same is true for your septic system, and if you have a large family, you may need to pump more frequently than you realize.

Regularly scheduled septic tank maintenance can keep your tank functioning optimally for many years and help you avoid a messy overflow or a catastrophic backup. How often you pump depends on how many people live in your home, and how much water your family typically uses.

If you can’t remember the last time you had your tank serviced and pumped, and your family of four (or more) regularly takes showers, washes laundry, runs the dishwasher, and uses the hose to wash the car, watch for signs that your system is slowing down.

Ask yourself these questions to assess how full your tank might be:

  • Are the toilets in your home flushing slowly?
  • Do sinks and tubs take awhile to drain completely?
  • Have you noticed any unpleasant odors in your yard near the septic tank drain field?
  • Do you have sewage backup in any of the drains inside your home?

Even if the only sign of a potentially full septic tank is a slow toilet, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially as a large family of four or more people.

Septic Tank Service Guidelines

If you can’t remember the last time you had your tank serviced and pumped, schedule a maintenance appointment as soon as possible with the professionals from Paradise Valley Septic, and follow these guidelines for frequency of service in the future:

  • Two-person family: pump your septic tank every three years
  • Three-person family: pump your septic tank every two years
  • Four or more people: pump your septic tank every year

Additionally, if you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, or a water treatment system (a water softener), you definitely need to have your septic tank pumped every year.

It may seem like yearly pumping is a lot, but not when you’re whole family is using water 365 days a year. Just like with your car, wear and tear on your septic system without regular maintenance is a recipe for costly repairs.

Don’t wait until it happens; prevent a sewage backup. Contact Paradise Valley Septic to schedule an inspection and pumping today.

Is There a Reason My Toilet Is Flushing Slowly?

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Is There a Reason My Toilet Is Flushing Slowly?

From faulty flush valves to obstructions in plumbing lines, there are several reasons why your toilet might not be flushing as fast as it used to.

And news flash: This is not a problem you should ignore – especially If you have a septic system.

We sincerely hope it’s just a minor, localized clog, but if your toilet is flushing more slowly than usual, take note.

 A slow-flushing toilet could be a sign that a bigger problem lurks below.

When your toilet is slow to empty, it could mean your pipes are clogged with sludge making it difficult to remove wastewater as quickly as a clean septic system can.

Additionally, your septic tank itself may be approaching capacity and unable to hold any more waste. If that happens, you run the risk of having your tank overflow, which typically means:

  • Slow drains and toilets
  • Pooling water in your yard around your drain field
  • Unpleasant odors in your home and yard
  • Sewage backup inside your home

If you have one slow-flushing toilet in your home, but all the other drains are functioning properly, then it might just be a clog in that particular toilet.

However, if you’re noticing that most of the drains and toilets in your house are slow to empty, it could be an indication that your septic system is at or approaching its full capacity.

 When was the last time you had your septic tank professionally serviced?

If the answer is, “I can’t remember,” your slow toilets and drains are an indication that it’s time for a long-overdue service. On average, a family of four or more should have their septic tank pumped every year. If there’s just two of you, every three years is a good rule to follow.

Why so often?

Routine septic system maintenance not only keeps your toilets functioning properly, it also helps prevent bigger, more costly problems from occurring down the line (pun intended!).

Think about it.

Fixing problems above ground in your septic system are much easier and less expensive than fixing the underground components.

Pay attention to your slowly flushing toilets to prevent bigger septic system problems. Routine septic system maintenance is not only the smarter route, but the more economical one as well.

Paradise Valley Septic provides full-service septic tank installation, maintenance, and repair services to families in the Phoenix Valley and surrounding areas.

Call or send us a message today to schedule a septic system inspection and service.

BE GOOD TO YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM—IT COULD SAVE YOU MORE THAN ONE HEADACHE.

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BE GOOD TO YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM—IT COULD SAVE YOU MORE THAN ONE HEADACHE.

Homeowners living within the limits of a municipality are most often linked to the public sewer system. However, those living outside city boundaries may or may not receive community sewer services.  More often than not, many out-of-city residents rely on a septic system to treat their wastewater.

Now, before you start listing all of the reasons why septic systems are a pain in the neck, consider the recent news story about Paradise Valley residents getting charged up to 500% more than the going rate for city-provided water and sewer services.

WHEN A SURCHARGE IS MORE THAN A SURCHARGE

More than 900 Paradise Valley residents who receive sewer (or sewer and water) services from the city of Phoenix are currently involved in an ongoing debate with city officials over what they consider to be unfair charges.

While the law allows for surcharges to be applied to outside-city sewer customers, many Paradise Valley residents are paying five or six times more than inside-city customers—which they say is far beyond the “just and reasonable” fees the city is obligated to provide.

BET YOU’RE LOOKING AT YOUR SEPTIC TANK A LITTLE MORE FONDLY NOW

No? Here is something else to consider.

Paradise Valley Septic was recently called out to a home where the septic system had failed.

The problem?

The homeowner lives in a place where city sewer services are now available, therefore it was illegal to replace the failed septic system. Instead, they had to make the switch to city sewer services.

You can probably guess where we’re going with this.

A PROPERLY MAINTAINED SEPTIC SYSTEM WILL FUNCTION FOR 25 TO 30 YEARS

That’s a pretty long time, and well worth it to help you avoid the predicament many Paradise Valley residents are finding themselves in.

The average septic system should be inspected every one to three years. In addition, follow these tips to maximize the life of your septic system:

  • Use less water. Excessive water use will prevent the drain field from absorbing water efficiently which can lead to overflow problems.
  • Be careful about what you flush. Solids that can’t be broken down naturally in a septic tank (e.g. egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit skins or other food waste) will typically find their way into drainage pipes and clog them.
  • Avoid dumping chemicals down the drain. Paint, drain openers, gasoline, motor oils and other harsh chemicals are hazardous to the environment and can be harmful to the bacteria in your septic tank.

DON’T HESITATE TO CALL A PROFESSIONAL

The most common problem associated with a septic system is lack of maintenance. Regular maintenance can help keep your system healthy and in top working order.

If you have questions about ongoing maintenance or it’s been a while since your tank has been serviced, don’t hesitate to contact us. Paradise Valley Septic has been proudly serving the Phoenix Valley and surrounding areas for over 50 years, and our experienced technicians do it all—from materials and installation to maintenance and repair.

It’s That Time of Year…for Selecting a Sewage Pump

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This time of year, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is your sewage pump.

In fact, we’re willing to bet you have visions of sugarplums, rather than visions of sump pumps, dancing through your head right about now. However, after the holiday festivities have ended, and the mistletoe has been taken down for another year, it’s a good idea to consider which type of sewage pump you need for the most effective waste disposal.

All pumps are not equal.

Sewage pumps do different jobs, so selecting the one that’s best for your home might be a challenge. We’ve put some helpful descriptions together to help you decide which pump will work best for your current waste disposal needs.

Sewage pump applications: basements and septic systems.

Sewage pumps are different from regular sump pumps because sewage pumps handle solid waste, not just liquids. If you currently have a septic system that tends to back up frequently, it may be time to consider a new sewage pump. The most common application for sewage pumps is for basement bathrooms and septic systems.

Because basement bathrooms are typically located below your sewage line, under your house, you need a pump that can effectively pump solid waste and water up and out of the house, against gravity. For this reason, sewage pumps offer a higher output than regular sump pumps. Sewage pumps are designed to run less frequently than a sump pump, but with more power to eject debris.

When you have a septic system, sewage pumps break down waste and pump it out of your home into the septic tank. Investing in a high-quality sewage pump and maintaining it properly will give you peace of mind knowing that you have a reliable, functioning pump for years to come. Because, let’s face it, malfunctioning sewage pumps and septic system backups are no picnic, any time of the year.

Choosing a sewage pump.

Sewage pumps are available in a few different options including effluent pumps, grinder pumps, and submersible pumps. Effluent pumps work well for residential or light commercial waste disposal needs. They focus on removing the gray wastewater that stays in your septic tank after the solids have settled.

Grinder pumps collect wastewater from your household appliances and fixtures including toilets, washing machines, and bathtubs. Grinder pumps have a holding tank to collect waste and when the water in the tank reaches a certain level, the grinder pump grinds the waste into a fine slurry before pumping it to your septic tank.

Submersible pumps are quieter than other types of sewage pumps and are great for residential, commercial, and agricultural applications.

If you’re not sure what kind of pump you need, or you have additional questions, we’d love to help. Paradise Valley Septic has been installing, repairing, maintaining, and helping people with all their septic system needs for the past 50 years. Give us a call to learn more about selecting a sewage pump that works best for your home or business.

4 REASONS TO MAKE GREASE TRAP MAINTENANCE A PRIORITY

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Business owners, particularly restaurant owners, know that regular grease trap maintenance is extremely important. Grease traps are installed between the sink and the wastewater disposal system to capture floating fats, oils and grease (FOG) before they can enter the sewer or septic tank and cause problems.

WHY TAKE PROPER CARE OF YOUR GREASE TRAP?

According to the EPA, grease accounts for nearly half of all reported blockages in the United States, which is why ongoing maintenance is essential. If your business has one or more grease traps, here are four good reasons to keep them clean:

  1. ODOR. Grease buildup in your grease trap can cause a foul odor that can drive away guests and create an unpleasant working environment for your staff.
  2. CLOGS. Over time, clogged lines resulting from improper grease trap maintenance can result in a failure of the overall disposal system.
  3. SAFETY. Dirty grease traps are a potential fire hazard, especially since fats, oils and grease are extremely flammable.
  4. COST. If FOG from a full grease trap spills into the community water system, your business could face significant fines. Not only that, but the costs involved with fixing issues after they happen far exceed the expense of regular maintenance.

SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREASE TRAP SAFETY

Clean and well-maintained grease traps will help prevent clogging and extend the life of your septic system. First and foremost, hire a professional to perform routine maintenance, including continually monitoring the grease level and pumping the grease trap at least quarterly.

Second, train your staff on simple but important steps to cut down on the amount of grease in your wastewater. These include thoroughly rinsing dishes, conserving water to prevent “surge loading” during busy periods, using detergents that quickly break up oil and water, and replacing liquid vegetable oil with shortening (which separates more easily in grease traps).

Finally, if you are concerned your current grease trap is not powerful enough for your needs, consider installing a larger grease trap or several smaller grease traps to allow adequate time for wastewater to cool and grease to separate.

GOOD NEWS. WE’VE GOT YOUR GREASE TRAPS COVERED.

Let Paradise Valley Septic take care of all your grease trap maintenance needs so you can focus on running your business. Our skilled technicians can answer all of your questions and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a professional in your corner. Call or send us a message today to find out more!

You’re Building a New Home…Where Do You Put Your Septic Tank?

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Many DIYers are surprised to learn that several factors need to be considered before deciding on the right spot to install a new septic system. While working with a certified professional is the best way to ensure the installation process is done properly in a safe and sanitary location, here are a few things to consider if you choose to go it alone.

FIRST THINGS FIRST, CHECK YOUR LOCAL REGULATIONS.

Septic system regulations vary depending on where you live. Start by contacting your local regulating agency to review the installation policies for your area and apply for the necessary permit(s). In the state of Arizona, this process begins with filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Discharge.

ALWAYS CBYD (CALL BEFORE YOU DIG).

The last thing you want to do is start digging and hit a utility line (e.g. cable, gas, power). Not only can this delay installation, but it can also be extremely dangerous—and potentially very expensive. Because there are no hard and fast rules about how deep different utilities have to be buried, make sure you call and have someone come out to mark the area. In most areas, a simple 811 call can get you started.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THE TERRAIN.

A little common sense goes a long way here. Ideally, you want to place your septic system on level ground (and high ground if possible) to avoid flooding and seeping. Avoid steep slopes and areas of dense tree roots or other obstructions. Also, because you will be bringing in heavy equipment to install your system, take into consideration any surrounding structures (such as utility sheds) or power lines that may impede your progress.

REMEMBER TO TEST THE SOIL QUALITY.

The quality of the surrounding soil is an important factor in determining where to place your septic tank. Consider how a septic system works: wastewater runs from your home to the septic tank, where it separates from solid waste and is released into the surrounding drain field, also called a leach field. Essentially, the drain field acts like a giant soil filter, so it’s important that your soil is highly absorbent. The best type of soil is sandy, undisturbed soil. Try to avoid areas of dense clay or bedrock, which can prevent water flow. Also steer clear of coarse, gravely soils that may drain too quickly. A percolation test (or perc test for short) will help you determine the state of your soil.

WHY GO IT ALONE? THE EXPERTS AT PARADISE VALLEY SEPTIC CAN HELP.

We touched on just a few of the important things to think about before installing your home septic system, but you also need to think about things like materials (what kind and how much will you need?), the overall design (how large of a drain field do you need? how close to your home should it be?), and the list goes on.

Or, you could just leave it to the professionals.

At Paradise Valley Septic our experienced technicians support ALL your septic system needs from installation to repair, including helping you with your initial design and securing the necessary permits. Just give us a call when you’re ready to get started.

How to Avoid FOG this Holiday Season

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Fog hanging over a valley in the early morning hours can give you an eerie feeling. FOG in your septic system can be even worse, especially during the holiday season when you have a house full of guests.

Just like an eerie fog creeps over the landscape, FOG, as in “Fats, Oils, and Grease,” can be even scarier for your septic system. Keep these tips in mind so you can avoid FOG in your septic system this holiday season.

F: Trim the fat…but, don’t put it down the drain.

When preparing holiday meals, be aware of what goes down your kitchen drain. Trim your turkey, and trim any fat into a disposable container or plastic bag that you can seal and throw out.

Remind guests that everything that goes down your drain, including fat, goes through your plumbing and into your septic system. Your septic tank isn’t designed to break down everything. It’s designed to break down human waste and toilet paper.

If you can keep everything else out of the tank, you reduce the risk of backups and overflows. And, nobody looks forward to that any time of year, especially not during the busy holidays.

O: The health benefits of oils have an adverse effect on septic systems.

You may be aware of the benefits of olive oil and coconut oil for healthier cholesterol levels and softer skin, but oils won’t benefit your septic system. You may be tempted to dispose of cooking oils at your kitchen sink out of convenience, but think twice before you do.

A septic system contains living organisms that digest and treat waste, naturally. When you pour substances like oil down the drain, you run the risk of killing these organisms or greatly impairing their function. Pour leftover or unused oils into a container so you can store or dispose of them properly.

G: Grease isn’t healthy for you or the septic tank.

If eating too many greasy foods can clog your arteries, imagine what it can do to your septic tank. Yuck! It’s tempting to dump the grease from a frying pan down the kitchen drain. But, as grease cools, it solidifies, causing clogs in your septic system.

After you fry bacon for that special holiday breakfast with family, pour leftover grease into a glass or metal container and let it cool. Once solidified, you can toss it into the trash. If you don’t have a container, you can put grease in a bowl and freeze it, then scoop it into the trash.

Now that you know how to avoid FOG during the upcoming holidays, you can hopefully avoid a potential plumbing disaster, too. But, should the occasion arise, it’s good to know that Paradise Septic will be there for you – during the holidays and every day – with our 50 years of experience serving the Phoenix Valley and surrounding areas.

Get Your Septic System Ready for the Holiday Season

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The holiday season is upon us once again — along with fond memories of the food, the fun, the family and friends…the septic system backups.

Perhaps you’ve had a couple mishaps the last time 23 people came to dinner, or maybe it was when eight family members stayed at your house for a week with their two dogs.

Hopefully, your holiday memories don’t include septic system failures and backups, but if they do, you don’t have to make those memories again this year. Here are a few recommendations, tips, and ideas for you and your family to prepare for this holiday season without incident  – at least one involving your septic system.

Pump and prepare ahead of time.

You know that you should have your septic system pumped every three to five years for optimum efficiency and to avoid backups and failures. Even if it hasn’t been three years (but you’re expecting a house full of guests) it’s a good idea to have your system pumped before the festivities begin so you can be assured your tank will handle all the extra flushing and water usage.

It’s also a good idea to prepare food ahead of time if possible. Preparing foods that you can freeze or keep fresh a few days before the festivities will help prevent over-usage of water and kitchen drains. It also lets you, the host, enjoy the time with family and friends because you’ll have less to do once guests arrive.

Remind your guests what not to flush.

It may seem obvious to you and your family because you live at your home, but remember that not everyone know the Dos and Don’ts of a septic system. A few simple reminders for your guests will help everyone avoid a septic system mishap, or worse – an embarrassing situation.

Be sure to tell guests to avoid flushing the following items:

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Paper towels
  • Diapers
  • Personal cleansing wipes
  • Anything other than the toilet paper you provide

Remind guests what not to put down the sink drains.

  • No oils, fats, or grease
  • No coffee grounds
  • No solid food waste
  • No bleach or other chemicals

Shower. Wait. Repeat.

You may not need to go so far as to establishing a shower schedule for family and guests, but it is a good idea to stagger the times people take them. If possible, avoid showering in multiple bathrooms at the same time. This can overload your septic system and slow the draining process.

The same thing applies to running the washing machine and dishwasher. If you can, distribute loads over a few days rather than running them back to back.

When it comes to the holiday season and septic systems, being prepared can make a big difference. Call Paradise Septic today to schedule your septic system maintenance before the holiday rush. And, should a situation occur, know you can count on us with our 50 years of experience serving the Phoenix Valley and surrounding areas – during the holidays and every day.

Preparing Your Septic System for Fall & Winter: Three Simple Tips

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Did you know most septic tank problems are caused by a lack of maintenance throughout the year?

If your home or business has a septic system, a little preparation can go a long way toward keeping it running smoothly as we ease into the cooler months.

Here are three simple tips for safeguarding your septic system this season:

  • Have your tank serviced every 1 to 3 years.

Regular maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to maintain the health of your septic system—and fall is a great time to service your tank. Routine inspections ensure that small problems or issues don’t get out of hand, which means you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you won’t wake up to a disaster.

  • Clear the ground around your septic tank.

Are the lounge chairs still hanging around from summer? What about the yard work tools and equipment left on the lawn? All of these things, as well as leaves and other natural debris, should be cleared from the area around your septic cover and leach field to ensure your system is easily accessible in an emergency. Move heavy vehicles such as lawnmowers and automobiles that can damage your tank and drain lines if parked above your system.

  • Be water wise.

Install low-flow water fixtures and repair leaky faucets and toilets to help conserve water and avoid putting added strain on your septic system during fall and winter. In addition, survey your yard and do your best to divert other waters sources (e.g. surface water, sump pumps, downspouts) away from your septic system.

One final word of caution: don’t treat your toilet like a garbage can.

The more you put down your septic, the more often you will have to get it pumped. Keep out solid objects as much as possible, including food from your garbage disposal, paper towels, medications and other trash that can clog the system and prevent proper draining; only septic-safe toilet paper should be used. Check out our “Dirty Dozen” list of cleaning products and other harmful materials that should NEVER go down your drain.

We’re here for all of your septic system needs.

Seasonal maintenance is one of the best ways to make sure you get the most out of your septic system investment. Even though winter temperatures in the Phoenix Valley area average in the mid 60s, we still recommend taking these simple precautions to protect and preserve the life of your system.

Still have questions? Give us a call! At Paradise Septic our experienced technicians are ready and waiting to help you with all of your septic system needs.

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