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11 Tips for a Cleaner Septic Tank at Home

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septic-tank-by-susana-secretariat-via-flickr

Although septic tanks take in most of the waste from your house, they too need to be kept in tip top condition. It is by keeping these tanks in good condition that you won’t have to worry about septic emergencies. Most septic tank problems and emergencies can be avoided.

We asked water treatment company Biopro for details on keeping tanks clean. Outlined below are a few tips on how to care for your septic tank.

1. Keep all records properly

Experts recommend keeping all records (site system plans and drawings) of the septic tank together with other relevant documents. You should also preserve all service records for future use, as these hold important info about the tank and everything it has. This includes service records, parts, spares installed, and when it was serviced last. The next contract may want to look into these to determine possible problems.

2. Laundry and Water

It would be advisable to spread wash loads throughout the week as opposed to washing them all at once.  You should also consider using dryer sheets, biodegradable detergents, and low phosphate suds as well.

3. Leaking Fixtures

Leaking fixtures almost always result in massive water loss, which mostly ends up in the wastewater system.  Having such fixtures repaired and serviced regularly can however help prevent this, this maximizing the septic tank’s life.

4. Water Softeners

Although water softeners come in handy especially in areas with hard water, it would be advisable to use a timer-operated water softener. The reason for this is that a water softener may contain compounds that pose a major risk to the septic system and tank, hence should be regulated to avoid emergencies. Check out these options from Kinteco.

5. Limit Food Waste Disposal

Although local regulatory authorities may allow it, it would be much safer for you to dispose of large quantities of food in garbage cans. By doing this, you will be reducing the number of solids in the septic tank and the need for frequent removal of the same.

6. Grease, Fats, and Oils

Animal fats, vegetable oils, and lard are some of the leading causes of bacterial overload in septic systems. This means other forms of waste might not be broken down entirely, which can be a problem in the long run. Avoid washing these oils down the drain if possible.

7. Disinfectants and Cleansers

Although citric acid and chlorine may be biodegradable, it would be best if you use them appropriately and according to the manufacturer’s specifications. You however should avoid pine oil based cleansers and quaternary ammonia altogether. Only use these products as a last result to unclog pipes.

8. Garage Floor and Workroom Drains

Any waste from the garage floor should be diverted away from the drainage system. This includes sawdust, gas, and other petroleum based products.

9. Drugs

Never flush any form of medication down the drain. Antibiotic medicines are known to harm septic treatment quality and should be avoided.  Any unused medication should either be returned to the prescribing physician, or thrown in the garbage.

10. Enzymes and Additives

These pose more harm than good to septic systems, hence shouldn’t be flushed down the drain.

11. Toilet Paper Products

Toilet paper comes in many different forms and shapes. Nonetheless, only go for single or double ply white toilet paper and not the colored ones. The only downside with colored toilet paper is that they take longer to brown or break down. These papers therefore accumulate in the septic tank causing bio-solid buildup. Paper towels, napkins, and wipes shouldn’t be flushed as the material is too hard for bacteria to break them down in time.

The type of disinfectants you use on your toilets and cleansers on sinks also play a huge role in the septic system’s health. Some disinfectants, antibacterial drugs, and soaps are too strong for septic treatments, hence end up killing beneficial bacteria in the septic tank.  These bacteria are essentially needed for decomposing waste materials; hence their numbers should be kept reasonably high. It would therefore be best if you avoid heavy use of antibacterial products, or just wash your hands with pure water.

Never pour oil or grease from dishes down the sink – wipe it all using an absorbent paper towel. Grease and oil clog the tank’s soak away, which waterproofs it. This makes it almost impossible for the soil to absorb liquids from the septic tank, meaning you will have to look for another soak away. Petrol, white spirit, motor oils, and varnish also contain complex bonds that are hard for soil bacteria to break down hence shouldn’t be allowed into the septic tank.  Condensing boilers contain a condensate (highly acidic solution) that should never be allowed into the main drain system as well.

Reasons You Should Protect Your Soakaway

The soakaway should be preserved at all costs to help maintain its effectiveness. Consider building a protective structure over it (preferably concrete or tarmac) to prevent people from driving over it. If the soakaway area is far off, have some grass sown over it as well. Grass takes up lots of water hence perfect for the area.  Other septic tank safety tips and measures are discussed below. Be sure to follow them to prevent a disaster in the future.

Pumping solids from the septic tank at least once annually:  Although most people do not have their septic tanks emptied, it would be wise to have the solids removed at least once a year. Removing the sludge not only improves storage capacity but also helps protect the soakaway.

Although it may be tempting, never try to open a septic tank lid alone. Opening the lid by yourself only allows toxic gasses and harmful bacteria to escape through – this could be overwhelming for your body. Only have trained professionals to take care of your septic system to avoid contracting illnesses such as hepatitis, tetanus, and Diphtheria.

 

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Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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