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Septic Tanks: Why They Fail and What You Can Do

Proper septic tank maintenance is both basic and complicated but it is very important.

By design, septic tank systems are meant to take household waste water, separate out the solids, breaking them down safely, and spread the extracted water out into a drainage field, ensuring the waste in the home has somewhere to go and isn’t being put on to the lawn.

According to septic tank maintenance professionals, the only thing that a typical septic system is prepared to handle naturally is human waste and toilet paper (which is designed to be broken down by the bacteria in the tank).

Unfortunately, septic tank maintenance reports show that unsuspecting homeowners and guests can flush seemingly harmless objects or dump substances down the drain that will disrupt the bacteria or clog the system. For example, flushing paper towels, cigarette butts, cotton products, diapers, feminine products, and even “flushable wipes” can all cause septic system problems.

Septic tank maintenance cautions that excessive water use is also a big culprit. Septic tanks have limited capacity and can only manage to process a certain quantity of wastewater at a time. The home’s septic tank was designed to handle a specific flow rate of water, based on the home’s size. Usually, the septic tank should discharge wastewater at the same rate as or faster than it takes on water. So, when it takes on too much water, it can’t do what it’s supposed to do and may cause problems.

Septic tank maintenance professionals explain that the separation of waste happens with the flow of wastewater. The natural separation process of solids and liquids of different densities and gravity results in the scum rising to the top, the sludge sinking to the bottom, and the watery effluent in the middle. Once separated from the other materials, the watery portion of the wastewater (effluent) flows out of the septic tank through the underground distribution system of perforated pipes, stone, and sand out into the ground several feet below the surface.

When the septic system takes on too much water, the tank fills up before it can empty out again. The excess water can’t enter the full tank, so it has to go somewhere else. Usually, this “somewhere else” is right back into the home.

The #1 cause of septic system failure is due to biomaterials and they are the cause of 97% of failures to septic systems that are otherwise maintained and taken care of properly. Household substances and everyday objects can cause big problems. They can disrupt and even kill off the important bacterial environment that digests waste in the septic system. Septic tank maintenance professionals warn about NEVER dispose of bleach, gasoline, paint, paint thinners, grease, harmful oils, or large quantities of antibacterial household cleaners.

Proper septic tank maintenance and professional septic system pumping (which includes removing the sludge and scum as well as cleaning out the effluent filter) every 3-5 years will keep the septic system running smoothly for years.

How to Identify a Problem with Your Grease Trap

Unknowingly, some restaurants bring it on themselves!

Restaurant grease traps are essential parts of a kitchen’s daily operations. The business couldn’t function without it. Problems with a grease trap commonly referred to as a grease interceptor can quickly become a headache and a costly mess as it grinds a kitchen operation to a halt ––costing the business time and money.

Flushing trash. It’s a big mistake for grease trap problems. Pouring used cooking oil and other food-related waste down the drain inevitably causes grease trap issues, such as slow drainage, clogs, overflows, and foul odors. Trash, cooking oil, and other debris should never be flushed down your drain and into the grease trap.

Something stinks! A foul odor coming from around the grease trap is an indicator of a grease trap problem. Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) degrade the longer they sit in the trap, and will eventually lead to foul smells. Because bacteria eventually breaks down the solidified material, causing it to spoil and give off a bad smell. Grease trap cleaning service professionals explain that if the opening of the trap gets covered or clogged, the gases that form foul odors will flow ward from the grease trap and into the restaurant.

Slow drainage. The warning from grease trap cleaning service experts is that, if you notice the sink or other drainage areas in and around your kitchen are draining slowly, it could be an indicator of a problem with the grease trap. More specifically, a clog may have formed—or is forming—from solid food waste or other debris that has found its way into your drainage pipes and eventually your grease trap. When the fats, oil, and grease (FOGs) that your grease trap catches solidify, they eventually begin to build up and slow down the water flow to and from the trap.

Overflow! The most obvious symptom of a grease trap problem is an overflow. Maybe grease itself escaping through the manhole cover in the trap or a backup in the kitchen. An overflow means the problem has already gotten fairly severe and likely needs urgent help from a grease trap cleaning service. Grease spills are tricky messes to clean up. There is a specific way to handle them, and if done correctly, the spread of an overflow can be minimized.

A full cleaning by a certified and qualified grease trap cleaning service will eliminate the problems. Fix the clogs, pump out the sludge and grease, often hydrojetting to force out the debris into either the neighboring compartment or into the sewer line, and everything is scrubbed down to remove all remaining residue. Grease trap cleaning service pros agree that grease traps should be emptied every three months.

What are Grease Traps and How Do They Work?

Grease traps (also known as grease interceptors, grease recovery devices, grease capsules and grease converters) are plumbing devices (traps) designed to intercept most greases and solids before they enter a wastewater disposal system.

The essential need for grease trap cleaning service and scheduled maintenance is because grease traps work on the basis that animal fats and vegetable oils (grease) are 10 to 15 percent less dense than water and that grease won’t mix with water. Fats and oils float on top of water.

Restaurant and food service kitchens produce waste grease which is present in the drain lines from various sinks, dishwashers and cooking equipment such as combi ovens and commercial woks. Rotisserie ovens have also become big sources of waste grease. If not regularly and properly removed by a grease trap cleaning service, the grease can clump and cause blockage and back-up in the sewer.

Common wastewater contains small amounts of oils which enter into septic tanks and treatment facilities to form a floating scum layer. This scum layer is very slowly digested and broken down by microorganisms in the anaerobic digestion process. Large amounts of oil from food preparation in restaurants can overwhelm a septic tank or treatment facility, causing the release of untreated sewage into the environment.

Professionals who provide important grease trap cleaning services explain that high-viscosity fats and cooking grease such as lard solidify when cooled, and can combine with other disposed solids to block drain pipes.

FOGS (fats, oils, grease, and solids) are the major enemies of the drains and garbage disposals of commercial kitchen. Grease trap cleaning service technicians explain that when the FOGS start to cool, they solidify, and result in a thick, waxy substance that adheres to the walls of drainpipes. The end result is in slow drains and often total clogs.

When the outflow from the kitchen sink enters the grease trap, the solid food particles sink to the bottom, while lighter grease and oil float to the top. The relatively grease-free water is then fed into the normal septic system. The food solids at the bottom and floating oil and grease must be periodically removed in a manner similar to septic tank pumping. A traditional grease trap is not a food disposal unit. Unfinished food must be scraped into the garbage or food recycling bin. Gravy, sauces and food solids must be scraped off dishes before entering the sink or dishwasher.

A grease trap is basically a box of water that traps grease and food waste (for example from washing dishes) and prevents it from blocking the waster system pipes. Over time – the grease trap will become completely blocked with grease preventing water flow through it. It’s time for a grease trap cleaning service.

What are the Myths and Facts about Septic Tank Systems?

There’s a lot of misinformation about septic tank cleaning in Houston, Texas.

A popular myth is that septic systems don’t really pose a hidden threat to water quality. Professional who do septic tank cleaning in Houston, Texas warn that when the effluent is not adequately treated, as in a failing septic system, it is a health hazard and can cause many human diseases. Studies have found that failing septic systems can become chronic sources of nutrients and interact with nearby waterways.

There’s also a common misunderstanding that septic systems are designed to be maintenance-free. Neglecting system maintenance leads to system failure. There is a need for maintenance of septic systems, or an accumulation of pollutants happen.

Professionals who specialize in septic tank cleaning in Houston, Texas explain that some people consider a septic system similar to a garbage disposal. It is NOT! Garbage disposals can overload a system with solids causing the need for more frequent tank pumping and can increase wastewater strength beyond the capacity of the system to properly treat it.

Technicians who work on septic tank cleaning in Houston, Texas warn about even coffee grounds. They don’t readily digest and can get into the septic system’s leaching bed, where they can contribute to system failure. Also, don’t flush plastic, condoms, rubber, coffee grounds, citrus rinds, eggshells, dental floss, diapers, baby wipes, kitty litter, cigarette butts, fats, greases, paper, paints, solvents, varnishes, thinners, waste oils down into the septic system. It inevitably leads to septic system failure.

There’s a myth about additives helping the septic system. Some septic tank additives on the market with chemicals, yeast, bacteria, or enzymes claim to improve septic tank performance or reduce the need for routine pumping. Septic tank cleaning in Houston, Texas points out that adding a stimulator or an enhancer to a septic tank to help it function or “to restore bacterial balance” is not necessary. The naturally occurring bacteria needed for the septic system to work are already present in human feces. Professionals suggest: Let nature takes its course.

Some homeowners mistakenly assume clogged septic systems must be replaced. Not always. Many clogged septic systems can be restored with maintenance. Three of the most common causes of clogs — indigestible sewage solids entering the leaching bed, slimy biomat growths blocking the holes in the perforated leaching pipes and tree roots physically clogging the leaching pipes — can usually be solved without replacing any part of the system.

A dangerous myth is ambitious DIY homeowners entering the septic tank. Septic tank cleaning in Houston, Texas is unanimous with the caution: Never enter any septic tank. Poisonous gases or the lack of air can be fatal. Any work to the tank should be done from the outside.

How Long Does It Take to Clean a Grease Trap?

Commercial grease trap cleaning is essential maintenance that often gets forgotten or skipped. Commercial grease trap cleaning is essential maintenance that often gets forgotten or skipped.

Sure signs of grease pit trouble are:

. when drains back up frequently

. there is pest infestation around the drain

. grease flows back into the sink

. slow draining

. odors coming from the drain

FOGS (fats, oils, grease, and solids) are the major enemies of the drains and garbage disposals of commercial kitchen. In their natural, liquid form, people don’t think twice about pouring it down the drain.

Commercial grease trap cleaning professionals warn that, when the FOGS start to cool, they solidify, and result in a thick, waxy substance that adheres to the walls of drainpipes. The end result is in slow drains and often total clogs.

A grease trap is basically a box of water that traps grease and food waste (for example from washing dishes) and prevents it from blocking the waster system pipes. Over time – the grease trap will become completely blocked with grease preventing water flow through it.

The structure has a baffle inside that retains the wastewater long enough for the grease to solidify and rise to the top, while the clean water flows through.  At the surface, the grease trap has removable lids used for inspections and cleanings.

Regular commercial grease trap cleaning—using the proper, professional equipment and techniques— usually takes from 20-30 minutes and is crucial for efficient operations and helps keep the number of down.

A safe and recommended commercial grease trap cleaning rule of thumb is to use the One Quarter Rule. Every three months. It complies with local regulations and for some busy restaurants, the traps should be emptied more often.

Keeping an eye on the grease trap and when it is a quarter of the way full (every three weeks), it is time to clean it out. The reason for the One Quarter Rule is because, at that point, the trap becomes no longer effective.

Commercial grease trap cleaning technicians vacuum the grease trap, scrape the grease trap clean and flow test to confirm proper draining.

Commercial grease trap cleaning works with cool water to allow the FOGS to float to the top. Wait ten minutes once the hot wastewater has been released from the dishwasher or sink and cools. The grungy fats, oils and greases are accessed by carefully prying off the grease tank cover. A delicate and critical component, known as the gasket, can be damaged if lifting off the cover without precaution.

Not only do commercial grease trap cleaning professionals efficiently remove and thoroughly clean grease traps, a key part of commercial grease trap cleaning is disposing of the waste safely.

Septic Tank Failure – Effective Tips to Get Rid From Septic Failure Problems

Septic systems have long been an environmentally-friendly way to recycle household wastewater. Like all systems they can and run into problems. A failed septic system can lead to groundwater contamination, sewage ponding in the yard and sewage backups into the home.Septic systems have long been an environmentally-friendly way to recycle household wastewater. Like all systems they can and run into problems. A failed septic system can lead to groundwater contamination, sewage ponding in the yard and sewage backups into the home.

Most people think the lack of system maintenance is the biggest reason that septic systems fail.

According to septic tank cleaning companies, this does not happen as often because most homeowners are aware of the need for septic system maintenance. Stats show that less than 10% of failed systems are due to lack of septic pumping.

But it’s actually heavy water usage that can clog a septic system and cause failure

As septic tank cleaning companies explain, the septic system works depends on the amount of water a household uses each day. The amount of water plays a large role in the septic filtration system’s lifespan.  The separation of waste happens with the flow of wastewater from the inlet to outlet in the septic tank. The natural separation process of solids and liquids of different densities and gravity results in the scum rising to the top, the sludge sinking to the bottom, and the watery effluent in the middle.

To prevent septic system failure, it’s important to understand what commonly cause the nasty problem of a failed septic system and then you’ll understand how to prevent failure from happening.

Septic tank cleaning companies caution about the common symptoms of inefficient septic system and problems which can lead to septic system failure.

. drains backing up into the home—a sign of a clog in the septic system, failure of the equipment or it is starting to overfill

. bad smells coming from drains, or around the area that the septic tank is placed on the lawn

. over-green area on the lawn, means waste is getting out through the septic system into the drain field. This is caused by equipment failure or overfilling

. soggy lawn and build up of water near septic tank

. water and sewage from toilets, drains, and sinks are backing up into the home.

. bathtubs, showers, and sinks drain very slowly.

Despite warnings and suggestions from septic tank cleaning companies many homeowners still leave septic tank maintenance, septic tank cleaning or septic tank pumping needs left to the last minute. Septic tank failure can be pricey, cause a huge mess to clean-up in the basement or landscaping. For commercial or industrial properties, a septic tank system failure could result in massive environmental clean up costs and fines.

Septic tank cleaning companies do regularly scheduled maintenance and a quick response may save money in repairs and prevent illness and negative impact on the environment.

Restaurant Grease Trap Cleaning – Its Necessity and Advantages

Grease and oil are unavoidable in the restaurant business and getting rid of it safely is absolutely necessary to keep a kitchen running smoothly. Wastewater that is produced in the kitchen is often full of grease and oil from either the cooking process or left over on dishes after a patron has finished their meal, and all this wastewater goes down the drain. This can cause major issues if there isn’t proper equipment in place to capture all the fats, oils and grease (FOGs) before it makes it to the sewers. FOGs will combine with everything else drained into the city systems by every business, and eventually cause clogs that cost cities and municipalities millions of dollars to clear up (“greasebergs”). The protective equipment is called a grease trap, but without restaurant grease trap cleaning regularly, the traps can get clogged too.

What are Grease Traps

Grease traps are the best line of defense in protecting public sewers and plumbing. Restaurant grease trap cleaning could be done by a business owner, but without the proper knowledge, it’s going to be hard, dirty and probably done wrong, so calling in the professionals is always the best option.

The way grease traps work is that they capture FOGs that are drained down sinks, toilets, basins, etc. When water enters the grease trap, the FOGs naturally won’t mix with water and will float to the top, while any solid wastes will sink to the bottom of the interception tank. Around the middle of the tank is where any displaced wastewater that is safe for sewers ends up, and that will drain into the sewer lines. Of course, like any tank or trap, there is a limit to capacity. As FOGs and solid waste build up, the likelihood of them ending up in the sewers gradually increases, which means grease trap cleaning is absolutely necessary to prevent FOGs from getting into sewer systems and wrecking havoc.

How Often to Clean Grease Traps

Depending on the size of your business, restaurant grease trap cleaning should be done every 30-90 days by a professional. The process is quick, and affordable. Avoiding cleaning can be costly, especially if the city fines you for FOGs related blockages or you get a backup into your own building.

Other Advantages to Restaurant Grease Trap Cleaning

Proper restaurant grease trap cleaning will help prevent the backing up of smells or liquids back into your restaurant, or outside your restaurant; smells that will greatly deter customers and result in closures. Clogging your grease trap will also damage it and result in the need for expensive repairs you could have avoided with regular restaurant grease trap cleaning schedules.

Professional restaurant grease trap cleaning also means you don’t have to worry about where everything that gets cleaned out of the grease trap goes. The company performing your servicing will handle the waste in an environmentally responsible way that complies with local regulations.

If you are in need of restaurant grease trap cleaning in the Houston and Sugar Land area, and are looking for a BBB accredited business with a highly trained and certified team, then look no further than Drane Ranger for all your grease trap cleaning needs.

Grease Traps are Essential for Any Commercial Kitchen

For any commercial kitchen manager, one of the most important parts of kitchen maintenance is the grease trap or grease interceptor. Commercial grease trap cleaning can be a dirty job if you don’t know what you are doing. That’s why most kitchen managers hire commercial grease trap cleaning specialists to routinely take care of this unpleasant job.

What Does a Grease Trap or Grease Interceptor Do Exactly?

In any busy kitchen, there is a lot of grease on the dishes, pots, pans, and utensils. If this grease makes its way into the drainage system during the washing process, it can wreak havoc on the plumbing and sewers. Once the liquid grease cools and solidifies, it can create huge blockages that are extremely costly to repair. Grease traps and grease interceptors are designed to catch this grease before it makes its way into the plumbing.

If sewers and drainage systems become clogged with grease, it can cause terrible backups into your restaurant. These types of clogs have also been known to cause sewers problems in the streets of a neighborhood as well. Either way, not properly handling kitchen grease can cause huge issues, restaurant shutdowns, and high repair costs. Most municipalities have laws regarding the proper disposal of kitchen grease. Routine commercial grease trap cleaning is often required by law.

Commercial Grease Trap Cleaning

Both grease traps and grease interceptors work to keep the fats, oils, and grease out of the drainage and sewer systems. Grease traps are smaller and are usually found under the sink in a commercial kitchen. They need to be emptied daily and cleaned professionally monthly.

Grease interceptors are larger units that are usually found in high-volume restaurants. These interceptors are usually stored outside and require commercial grease trap cleaning specialists to empty and clean them.

It is important to regularly schedule grease trap and/or interceptor cleaning. The grease can cause an unpleasant smell if neglected. These units can also fail if they are not cleaned regularly, which causes unsanitary backups in your kitchen and costly restaurant shutdowns. The best solution is to set up a recurring cleaning schedule with a commercial grease trap cleaning company.

Working With Professional Cleaners

It is important to hire a professional commercial grease trap cleaning service to ensure that your grease traps and interceptors are properly maintained. Professional cleaning companies have the tools and knowledge to get the job done cleanly, efficiently, and effectively. Routine cleaning and inspection means that your grease traps and interceptors will remain working properly and cause fewer problems in the future.

At Drane Ranger, our team of specialized commercial grease trap cleaning personnel are trained and experienced in cleaning a wide range of grease traps. We are committed to our customers and your business. With Drane Ranger, you can expect courteous, clean, and expert service exactly when you need it.

Drane Ranger has been serving the Houston, Pearland, Alvin, and Sugar Land areas since 1985. We carefully follow all regulations for commercial grease trap cleaning and disposal.

Why Can’t You Flush Cat Poop Down a Septic Tank?

Owners of cats know the work that it takes to care for our feline friends. Cats need to be brushed, fed, loved and the cat litter needs to be changed on a regular basis. Professionals who complete septic tank cleaning in Alvin, TX have a word of advice for cat owners. Do not flush your cat poop and litter into the septic tank.

Why can you not dispose of cat litter in a septic tank?

Most cat litter is made of bentonite clay. This clay is absorbent and non-biodegradable. When water is added to this clay it forms a thick, pasty substance. When you flush the litter down the septic tank it can harden in the pipes. If you flush it down with water or jet spray, it will end in your tank. Here it will harden and then can damage the tank itself. If you decide to dispose of the cat litter in your septic tank it can lead to having more septic tank cleaning in Alvin, TX, additional repairs or complete replacement of your septic tank.

Additionally, a septic tank is designed for human waste. The microorganisms that are used to breakdown human feces may become out of balance with the introduction of new substances. Cat waste contains a parasite called toxoplasma. This nasty parasite can enter the water system through the draining of the septic tank even get into water waste treatment plants. This parasite can then be spread through animals that drink the water or through fish and shellfish.

How should you dispose of cat feces?

The easiest solution is to scoop the litter and place it in a bag and dispose of through the trash system. There are some people who will scoop the poop and shake off the litter leaving the clumps of feces, and then flushing this down through the septic tank system. This is not a good idea. Although there is less cat litter it will still build up over a time and the parasite is still attached to the feces. Avoid extra septic tank cleaning in Alvin, TX, and dispose of the cat litter properly.

Conclusion

Cats are beautiful creatures and make wonderful pets. Give them all the love and attention that they need and deserve. Flushing cat feces and litter in a septic tank can add additional costs, so instead dispose of your litter properly and spend that extra money on treats for your feline friend.

What Happens if a Grease Trap isn’t Properly Maintained?

What exactly happens if your grease traps are left unattended, and why is it so important to get regular grease trap cleaning and maintenance? We answer these questions and tell you where to get professional, reliable grease trap service.

The Dangers of Ignored Grease Traps

As you probably know, grease traps help to capture the fats and other contaminants present in wastewater coming from your kitchen. They do this by letting the water settle and cool so the grease rises to the top and any solids, like food waste, settle on the bottom. The water is then flushed out to be taken by the local wastewater infrastructure. The grease and waste, however, remains in the trap.

When people ignore their grease traps, this waste accumulates. In some types of restaurants, it can accumulate very quickly, leading to a number of issues. Top among them is major plumbing issues. Since your grease traps are connected to your plumbing system, they will eventually get so blocked up that pipes will not be able to push through water. The result can be burst pipes, total drain blockages and much more, all of which can shut down a restaurant in its entirety.

The more immediate sign will be a noticeable and terrible smell wafting through your establishment. Since the food and grease waste is building up instead of being properly removed, it will start to rot, and the smell will travel through your plumbing system.

How to Prevent Grease Trap Issues

If you want to eliminate the risk of these smells and plumbing issues, then the best thing to do is invest in regular grease trap cleaning and maintenance from a dedicated and experienced company. Grease trap cleaning companies can set up a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule to ensure your traps are taken care of regularly, leaving you to focus on other parts of your business.

Working with an experienced company will also ensure that your grease traps are in good condition throughout their lives, and the experts can make sure you are within local guidelines and regulations.

Where to Find Professional Grease Trap Cleaning Services

Did you know that businesses with grease traps in the Houston area must clean and empty the traps every three months? Even then, this may not be enough for some restaurants to keep a safe, clean and comfortable environment for their staff and customers. If you own a business with a grease trap, then make sure you contact the professionals here at Drane Ranger. We can work with you to make a grease trap cleaning schedule that keeps your traps clean and ensures you are in compliance with local rules and regulations. Contact us today to learn more and let us take care of the greasy work so you don’t have to!