Waste water and drainage
Water comes into your house and it has to go out again, so keep your drains clear of obstruction.
Never pour hot or cool fat from cooking down the sink, because it can quickly coagulate in the pipes and cause blockage. It may not fill the pipes the first time you do it, but other solid matter will stick to it and soon cause obstruction. There is nothing more disconcerting than pulling the plug in the sink and finding the dirty water refuses to move! ... and knowing that you have created an unpleasant or expensive problem.
Toilets can also block readily if they are abused. Sanitary towels and nappies are too big to fit down the waterworks!
A build-up of long hairs in the water outlet of the shower or the hand basin plughole can also lead to blockages, so clear them regularly, as you do your household clean.
There are many products on the market designed to keep drains clear. For regular maintenance choose one that is designed to clean by enzyme or bacteria action rather than corrosive chemical action (see Clearing blocked drains).
Storm water drainage
Rain water often carries solid matter with it that can create drain blockages. Roof gutterings and spoutings should be cleaned every year, or more often if overhanging or nearby trees drop leaves onto the roof.
Also check any drainage sumps that collect groundwater. These might be in the form of a surface grating at the end of a sloping driveway, patio or path. Open the grating at least once a year and clear out the gravel build-up. A sump is designed to trap solid material. The water exit pipe is positioned high on the
sump wall so that there is room below it for the solids to build up. Always keep the level of solids below the exit pipe.
Homes not served by town sewage systems usually have a septic tank system at a distance from the house, which purifies sewage and waste water. An underground tank collects sewage from the toilet and raw waste material from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry pipes leading from the house. Solid matter falls to the
bottom of the tank and is broken down gradually by bacteria. The liquid waste (towards the top of the tank) feeds out into the drainfield where its treatment continues in a filtering irrigation system built into the earth.
Bacteria are not capable of consuming all the waste matter that enters a septic tank and a sludge forms on the bottom over time. It is essential to have this sludge pumped from the tank to prevent it entering the drain field. How often you have to have this done will depend on the size of the tank, the frequwncy of use and the number of people using the system. It is now mandatory in some districts to have it done every three years. Look up a professional septic tank service in your local directory. They usually come in
trucks labelled ‘Eco waste services’ or, maybe ‘Big sucker’.
Because bacteria are working hard for you to keep your septic system working,
it is important to keep those bacteria alive and well.
Do not allow disinfectants, paints, pesticides, fertilisers or motor oil to get into the septic tank system. They can kill the bacteria and contaminate the drain field.
Do not flush non-biodegradable material such as plastics into the system as they will rapidly fill the tank and clog the system.
It is better to use two-ply toilet tissue rather than the heavy embossed papers that are available. Flushing heavy papers, tampons or cardboard sanitary applicators will put pressure on the system and could cause serious problems.
Restrict the use of insinkerators or garbage disposal units as they can overload the system.
Use mild detergents and biodegradable soap, not potentially environment-damaging bathroom cleansers.
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