Q: When should I empty my septic tank?
A: Quebec regulations provide for two methods for emptying the sludge and scum accumulated in septic tanks.
1. At regular intervals:
2. According to the measurement of sludge and scum, if a municipality has adopted a by-law providing for the emptying of septic tanks on its territory. In this case, septic tanks must be inspected once per year and be drained when the thickness of the scum layer or the sludge layer reaches one of the maximums specified in the by-laws.
Q: What should be done before emptying?
A: Remove the lid from the end of the tank, where the baffles are located.
Q: What actions and habits should I take to promote the proper functioning of my water treatment system?
A: Several habits make it possible to promote the proper functioning of a device for treating wastewater. For example:
Q: What about phosphates?
A: Reduce or, better yet, completely eliminate the use of cleaning products, detergents and soaps containing phosphates. Phosphorus does not decompose in the septic tank and when it flows into a nearby body of water, it causes rapid growth of blue algae (cyanobacteria) affecting water quality and aquatic life in general.
Q: What is done with the contents of the tank after pumping?
A: The waste is transported to a sewage treatment plant.
Q: What are the signs of an overfull tank, blockage or problem with the purification field?
A: There are several signs that indicate a problem with a septic system, including the following:
Q: What is the smell that comes from the tank when the lid is removed?
A: What you are smelling is methane, a gas produced by the decomposition of organic matter.
Q: Can a water softener damage a septic system?
A: Concerns have been raised about this – such as the destruction septic tanks bacteria by salt, flooding of tanks by the backwashing process, and reduction in the capacity of the leaching field to absorb water. Recent studies are inconclusive on the subject.
It was found, however, that the salt did not adversely affect the bacteria or soil in the leaching field. That said, the volume of water resulting from backwashing can reach between 55 and 400 liters per week, equivalent to one or two standard baths filled with water. Not reloading the softener more than once a week should reduce the amount of backwash entering the septic system.
Sources and references: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation