S.O.S.—Save Our Septic® Program
How can we help “Save Your Septic”?
The S.O.S.-Save Our Septic® Program provides homeowners peace of mind when upgrading biologically-failed septic systems and to prevent future failures. We can help fix or prevent:
- Soggy Lawns
- Foul Odors
- Plumbing Backups
Installed in the existing septic tank, the RetroFAST® Septic System Enhancement provides a simple, retrofit “aeration filter” that improves conventional septic tanks to ensure a clean environment for future generations without the use of costly chemicals or additives.
Guaranteed or your money back! Whether due to age or site issues, the S.O.S.-Save Our Septic® Program identifies an existing septic system’s biological failing situation. Under this program, we are offering a MONEY-BACK warranty. If after one (1) year from the date of startup date, the RetroFAST® Septic System Enhancement does not eliminate the symptoms of the biologically failed system; the owner is entitled to the refund amount of the entire RetroFAST® system.
REMEDIATION or your money back!
The rise in demand for sustainable technologies to the world’s water needs, green-building incentives, changes in regulations, water shortages, and the rising cost of water have all become principal drivers towards the sustainable water, wastewater, greywater, and stormwater treatment solutions. Upgrading an existing septic tank not only extends the life of the drain field but also enhances property value for implementing advanced wastewater treatment strategies.
After a qualified Service Provider has inspected the existing septic system on the property and identifies a biological failing situation – whether due to age or site issues, then a “Site Evaluation/Registration” Report is completed.
Once the RetroFAST® Septic System Enhancement is installed, the incoming waste will receive high levels of treatment. This helps to break up and reduce the clogging layer in the drain field.
As an upgrade to an underperforming septic system, the RetroFAST® System eliminates ponding and drain field failure symptoms.
If after one year from the time of the startup date the RetroFAST® system does not remediate the drain field, the property owner is entitled to their MONEY BACK for the RetroFAST® unit.
RetroFAST® is Proven Technology
Simple, Dependable, Affordable…FAST®
RetroFAST® systems are designed for residential-strength wastewater in 3 specific sizes. Designed for enhancing or repairing existing septic systems that have biologically failed, the RetroFAST® system inserts into an existing 18″ manhole without the need for heavy equipment. A very cost-effective solution that meets environmental standards with long term results.
RetroFAST® can remediate failures and extend the life of your septic system. This EPA-ETV verified “septic system enhancement” improves conventional septic tanks to ensure a clean environment for future generations without the use of costly chemicals or additives. The Fixed Integrated Treatment Technology (FITT®) process is one of the most widely used and popular methods of treatment for advanced wastewater treatment systems and creates optimal contact between the incoming waste, free oxygen, and biomass. This allows the system to maximize pollutant reduction.
RetroFAST® Available Sizing
The RetroFAST® system (complete with an above-ground blower and control panel) has the ability to immediately improve a biologically failed drain field. The USEPA ETV-tested RetroFAST® Septic System Enhancement provides a simple upgrade to conventional septic systems.
Inserted directly into an 18” (45 cm) manhole, this low-impact design avoids digging up your entire yard. The finished product is very landscape friendly! RetroFAST® is easily installed directly in the septic tank without the need for heavy machinery (usually in less than half a day) in your existing tank. The system must be in compliance with local codes and specifications.
Low Cost, Long Lasting Solution
The EPA-ETV certified RetroFAST® Septic System Enhancement consistently provides high levels of treatment in the tank (90-95%) and delivers high-volumes of dissolved oxygen in the treated effluent to the drain field.The dissolved oxygen (DO) aids in digesting the excessive biomat. With the biomat diminished and the drainfield rejuvenated, the soil is free to accept future effluent and extend the life of the drainfield.
BioMicrobics focuses on providing advanced, wastewater treatment systems that are design efficient and support sustainable construction goals for resilient homes or long-term performance of buildings.
Downloads & Certifications
- DOWNLOAD the SOS-Save Our Septic® Program Brochure.
[FINAL TECHNICAL REPORT Demonstration Project] Remediation of over 25 OWTS near Table Rock Lake (Missouri) and influencing numerous installers and homeowners to seek advanced OWTS options: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/septic/upload/tablerock_report.pdf
S.O.S.-Save Our Septic® Program Guidelines
TERMS AND CONDITIONS: An exclusive warranty is given by BioMicrobics, Inc. through its distributors for the S.O.S.—SAVE OUR SEPTIC® Warranty Program (hereafter Program) gives the property owner the right to be refunded the cost of the RetroFAST® system only if the system does not, after one (1) year from the start-up date, remediate the property owner’s drain field that was deemed biologically failed by an authorized Certified FAST® System Installer or Distributor. When installed and operated in accordance with the BioMicrobics, Inc.
THE PROGRAM WARRANTY IS NOT VALID if the RetroFAST® Product Registration and the S.O.S. Site Evaluation Form are not submitted to BioMicrobics, Inc. and/or the site is NOT deemed to be biologically failed by BioMicrobics, Inc. or a certified FAST® Installer or Distributor. A COPY OF S.O.S – SAVE OUR SEPTIC® WARRANTY CERTIFICATE MUST BE INCLUDED WITH ANY CLAIM.
Onsite wastewater treatment systems are more and more in use in suburbs and rural areas. Local regulations require that systems be certified to ensure the protection and preservation of the public’s health and the environment. Other Reports can be obtained. The use of these certifying bodies helps to open new markets and instill confidence that newer technologies are in fact better than current methodologies. With tens of thousands of installations all over the world, the FAST® technology is used successfully in municipal, industrial, marine, commercial and residential type applications for over 35 years. When you buy our advanced Wastewater or Stormwater treatment products, you get the support of a valuable team:
- NSF® (National Sanitation Foundation International)/ANSI® (American National Standards Institute) Std 40, Class 1, a 6-month (26-week) test. Class I systems must achieve a 30-day average effluent quality of 25 mg/L CBOD5 and 30 mg/L TSS or less, and pH 6.0-9.0.: http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/green-living/wastewater-treatment-system-alternatives/residential-wastewater-treatment-systems.
- NSF/ANSI Standard 245, Nitrogen Reduction, defines total nitrogen reduction requirements to meet the growing demand for nutrient reduction in coastal areas and sensitive environments: http://www.nsf.org/services/by-industry/water-wastewater/onsite-wastewater/nitrogen-reduction.
- NSF/ANSI Standard 350, Class R (Water Reuse), NSF 350 is a water (health) standard, not a wastewater treatment standard with a pass/fail criteria: http://www.nsf.org/services/by-industry/water-wastewater/onsite-wastewater/onsite-reuse-water-treatment-systems. The BioBarrier system had test results that were non-detectable CBOD5 and TSS; turbidity of 0.25 NTU; and E. Coli of 1.3 MPN/100 ml.
- EN-12566-3, Europe Union, Packaged and/or site assembled domestic wastewater treatment plants for up to 50 People, tested conform the EU Norm EN 12566-3 by PIA in Aachen (Germany) with the percentage reduction of influent pollutants. During the 38-week test the BioBarrier performed the following levels: COD reduction 97.2%, BOD reduction 98.9%, Suspended Solids reduction 99.8%, NH4-N reduction 96.2%, fecal coliforms 99.9%.
- Compliance with Canadian National Standards and BNQ (Bureau de Normalisation du Québec) Test, Canada, Installations must comply with the Q-2, r.22 regulation in accordance with NQ 3680-910 standard
BioMicrobics, Inc. warrants every new system against defects in materials and workmanship for a period of two (2) years after installation or three (3) years from date of shipment, subject to the following terms and conditions: During the product warranty period, if any part is defective or fails to perform as specified when operating at design conditions, and if the equipment has been installed and is being operated and maintained in accordance with the written instructions provided by BioMicrobics, Inc., BioMicrobics, Inc. will repair or replace, at its discretion, such defective parts free of charge. Defective parts must be returned to the owner to BioMicrobics, Inc.’s factory postage prepaid if so requested. The cost of labor and all other expenses resulting from replacement of the defective parts and from the installation of parts furnished under this warranty and regular maintenance items, such as the air filter, shall be the responsibility of the owner.
How Do Conventional Septic Systems Fail?
How Your Septic System Works
Septic systems are underground wastewater treatment structures, commonly used in rural areas without centralized sewer systems. They use a combination of nature and proven technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry.
A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and a drain field, or “soil absorption” field.
The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (e.g., oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater. Soil-based systems discharge the liquid (known as effluent) from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field, leaching chambers, or other special units designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil or surface water.
Alternative systems use pumps or gravity to help septic tank effluent trickle through sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants like disease-causing pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants. Some alternative systems are designed to evaporate wastewater or disinfect it before it is discharged to the soil or surface waters.
Specifically, this is how a typical septic system works:
- All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank.
- The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Its job is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle down to the bottom forming sludge, while the oil and grease float to the top as scum.
Compartments and a T-shaped outlet prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area.
- The liquid wastewater (effluent) then exits the tank into the drain field.
- The drain field is a shallow, covered, excavation made in unsaturated soil. Pretreated wastewater is discharged through piping onto porous surfaces that allow wastewater to filter through the soil. The soil accepts, treats, and disperses… wastewater as it percolates through the soil, ultimately discharging to groundwater.
If the drain field is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in toilets and sinks.
- Finally, the wastewater percolates into the soil, naturally removing harmful coliform bacteria, viruses and nutrients. Coliform bacteria are a group of bacteria predominantly inhabiting the intestines of humans or other warm-blooded animals. It is an indicator of human fecal contamination.
View an animated, interactive model of how a household septic system works EXIT created by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.
Failure symptoms: Mind the signs!
A foul odor is not always the first sign of a malfunctioning septic system. Call a septic professional if you notice any of the following:
- Wastewater backing up into household drains.
- Bright green, spongy grass on the drainfield, even during dry weather.
- Pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement.
- A strong odor around the septic tank and drain field.
There could be many reasons why your septic system failed, such as overuse, underuse, age, improper sizing, additives, etc.
With only 15-20% of the treatment occurring in the tank in a conventional septic system, the rest is reliant on the drain field.
Furthermore, the untreated water contains an abundance of nitrogen (which promotes the growth of algae and other unwanted autotrophic organisms).
Over time, this combination can build a slimy, biomass layer clogging the trench forcing the water to the surface.
EPA’s SepticSmart Program educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance all year long. For more information on EPA “Septic Smart” Program “Homeowners Tips” on how to properly maintain your septic system, visit www.epa.gov/septicsmart. In addition, it serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments, and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents:
- Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a qualified professional or according to their state or local health department’s recommendations. Tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years.
- Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drain field.
- Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
- Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water-efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day – too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
- Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.
- Pump your Tank: Routinely pumping your tank can prevent your septic system from premature failure, which can lead to groundwater contamination.
- [If Applicable] Test Your Drinking Water Well: If septic systems aren’t properly maintained, leaks can contaminate well water. Testing your drinking water well is the best way to ensure your well water is free from contaminants.
Why do they Fail? NC State University Results:
Original Posting link: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/why-do-septic-systems-fail
Why Do Septic Systems Fail? Soil Facts
How do you know if your septic system is failing? First, answer the following questions:
- Do your drains empty slowly for reasons other than old, clogged pipes?
- Does sewage back up into your house?
- Have you noticed a wet, smelly spot in your yard?
- Is your septic tank piped to a ditch or stream?
- Is your washing machine or sink piped to a road or stream?
- When it rains or the ground is wet, do you experience problems with your drains?
- When you do laundry, does a wet spot appear in your yard?
- Do you frequently have to pump your septic tank (more than once a year)?
- Is the grass over or around your septic tank greener than the rest of your lawn?
- Is the area around your septic tank or drainfield wet or spongy even when it has not rained for a week or more?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your septic system has failed or is near failing. This means that it is not treating and disposing of sewage in a safe, environmentally sound fashion. You may also be able to tell your system is in trouble if noxious bacteria (fecal coliform) or large amounts of nutrients (particularly ammonia) are found in both nearby wells and surface water.
A septic system consists of four basic components: the source (home), the septic tank, the drainfield or leach field, and the soil beneath the drainfield (Hoover, 2004; Figure 1). Several different septic system designs are used in North Carolina. The type of system used is based on the lot’s soil and site conditions; however, the conventional system (as illustrated in Figure 1) is the most commonly used in the state.
A common reason for septic system failure is overloading the system with more water than it can absorb. A septic system is designed for a specific wastewater flow rate based on the number of bedrooms (120 gallons per bedroom per day) in the house served by the system. When this flow rate is exceeded, the excess water backs up into the house or surfaces in the yard. This problem is often the result of a leaky fixture: either a toilet that has a slow leak or a dripping faucet. A change in water use, such as more people in the house or the addition of a water-using appliance, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, may add additional water to your septic system. Further problems can arise if a sump pump, icemaker, or dehumidifier drains into the septic tank. Each of these devices can add excess water and should not be connected into your septic system.
Along with excess water from inside the house, drainage or runoff water outside also may overload the septic system. In particular, water from roofs, roads, or paved areas may be diverted onto the system drainfield. This surface water will saturate the soil to the point that it can no longer absorb additional water. The result is sewage backing up into the house or on top of the ground. Finally, if the groundwater or surface water is allowed to enter the septic tank, it, too, can overload the system. For this reason, septic tanks are designed to be watertight, and surface water should be diverted from the access covers of the septic tank.
As with all major appliances, septic systems require routine maintenance. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension publications Septic Systems and Their Maintenance (AG-439-13), and Septic System Owner’s Guide (AG-439-22), describe the proper maintenance of a septic system. The main purpose of the septic tank is to stop solids from entering into the drainfield. If solids do reach the drainfield, they will clog the small spaces or pores in the gravel and soil below, resulting in sewage backing up into the house or surfacing in the yard. The lack of septic tank maintenance is a key cause of premature septic system failure. You should have your tank pumped every 3 to 5 years depending on use (see Septic Systems and Their Maintenance (AG-439-13) for specific guidance on pumping frequency). Also, you should have the septic tank pumper inspect the sanitary tee outlet or effluent filter to ensure proper function. Houses with septic systems should not have a garbage disposal. But if your home has a garbage disposal or grinder pump, the tank should be pumped more frequently. Additives, whether biological or chemical, have not been shown to have any beneficial effect on the solids in the tanks or system in general. For this reason, they are not recommended.
If your system received its permit from your county health department after January 1, 1999, it must have an effluent filter. These filters are designed to prevent finer solids from reaching the drainfield. The filters require some additional maintenance. As the filters clog with solids, your drains may work more slowly. When this occurs, a septic tank pumper or the homeowner can clean the filter with a garden hose, making sure the waste on the filter is washed off into the inlet side of the tank, and replace the filter in the tank. If the filter is clogged, it is often a sign that the tank needs to be pumped.
An improperly designed septic system is a failure waiting to happen. It is critical that the system be designed with adequate space and has suitable soil. The space requirements are determined by the amount of sewage flowing into the system and by the soil and site conditions of the drainfield. In designing a septic system, it is assumed that there are two people per bedroom in a house and that each resident produces about 60 gallons of wastewater a day. Therefore, a septic system is designed to handle a flow rate of 120 gallons per day per bedroom (two people per bedroom x 60 gallons per person per day). For nonresidential property, the flow rate is determined by the proposed use. Soil and site conditions dictate the amount of sewage that can be safely applied to the soil. In general, sandy soils can accept more wastewater than clayey soils, which results in smaller drainfields for sandier soils. Finally, the location of a seasonal high water table or a restrictive layer (such as hard pan or rock) determines the depth below the soil surface that the bottom of the drainfield trenches can be placed.
The soil is the most important part of the septic system in treating and ultimately dispersing the treated sewage. If the soil beneath the drainfield is too wet, the sewage may not be adequately treated before it reaches groundwater. Furthermore, if a restrictive layer is too close to the trench bottom, the soil may not be able to absorb all of the sewage, thus forcing it to the surface or back up into the house. In North Carolina, there must be 12 to 18 inches of unsaturated soil beneath the drainfield trench bottom. This distance is referred to as the vertical separation distance. Environmental health specialists employed by the county or district health departments are trained to evaluate the soil and site to ensure that it is suitable for sewage treatment and dispersal. Additional information can be obtained in the North Carolina Cooperative Extension publication Investigate before You Invest (AG-439-12).
Even when a system is designed properly given the flow rate and soil and site conditions, problems can result from the construction and installation of the system. When systems are installed in soil that is too wet, the soil is significantly compacted and the soil pore space is smeared in excavated areas. In extreme cases this can seal the soil in the trenches, not allowing any wastewater to flow into the underlying soil for treatment and dispersal. With the reduced capacity for wastewater to flow into the soil, it is likely that the wastewater will back up into the house or emerge on top of the ground.
Septic systems must be installed according to the design. This includes checking the elevation of each component. If the trench bottoms, drain lines, or distribution box are not level, wastewater may not flow properly or be distributed evenly across the drainfield. Step-downs or other devices used on sloping sites must be properly installed, or one trench may be overloaded with wastewater. Interceptor drains or other drainage systems must have an outlet that allows groundwater to drain away from the drainfield. Finally, the soil cover over the drainfield should be uniform and crowned to prevent surface water from ponding on or flowing into the trenches. If the area is landscaped, use small, lightweight equipment because heavy machinery may compact the soil and even crush the pipes or septic tank.
Driving, paving, or building on top of a septic system can damage or destroy it. The pipes and septic tank can shift position or be crushed from repeated or even occasional abuse. Furthermore, the soil can be compacted, or ruts may form, exposing system components and possibly untreated sewage to the ground surface. Paving over all or a portion of the drainfield may prevent air from getting into the soil, as well as limit access for repairs or maintenance. Building over the drainfield may cause compaction or even damage a line due to the weight of the structure or the location of building footings. Paving or building over the septic tank also will prevent required tank maintenance.
Tree roots may clog the drain lines and gravel in the trenches. The best way to prevent this from occurring is to remove or simply not plant trees or shrubs within 25 feet of the drainfield. Roots may also get into the septic tank or distribution box, so do not plant trees and shrubs over these devices. You should plant grass over the drainfield and all other outdoor system components. The grass aids in removal of water and helps to prevent soil from eroding over the components. Most septic systems require that an area be set aside for possible repairs. This area should be treated and protected just as if it were currently in use.
Septic systems may fail despite proper maintenance, design, and construction. If properly maintained, the life span of a septic system is similar to that of an asphalt shingled roof. If a failure does occur, the problem needs to be corrected swiftly and properly. Any failure, despite its cause, poses a nuisance, presents a public health hazard, and can degrade the environment.
If your system is failing or you suspect a failure, contact your local environmental health department. The department will send an environmental health specialist trained in assessing failing septic systems to determine the cause or causes of the failure and suggest how to repair the problem. Do not attempt to fix the failure without the approval of the local environmental health department. In some cases, the corrective measures could be as simple as installing water conservation devices. In the case of a complete system failure, construction of a new septic system may be the only solution.
Dos and Don’ts for Septic System Repairs
- Do report problems to your local environmental health department and ask for an evaluation.
- Do conserve water until a repair is made.
- Do rope or fence off the area where sewage is on the ground surface to keep people and animals away from untreated sewage.
- Don’t place more soil over a wet smelly spot, which is probably where raw sewage has leaked. This will not solve the problem and may cause sewage to back up into your house. Raw sewage contains harmful bacteria that may cause sickness or death.
- Don’t pipe or ditch the sewage to a ditch, storm sewer, stream, sinkhole, or drain tile. This will pollute surface water, groundwater, or both, and cause a health hazard. It is illegal.
- Don’t pipe, ditch, or run the sewage into an abandoned well or other hole in the ground. This will pollute groundwater and cause a health hazard. It is illegal.
- Don’t ignore the problem. It will not go away. The longer you wait to fix the problem, the worse the situation may become, possibly making a simple repair into a very costly one.
Regular maintenance of your septic system is the best way to prevent a failure. As stated, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension publications Septic Systems and Their Maintenance (AG- 439-13) and Septic System Owner’s Guide (AG-439-22) describe the proper maintenance of a septic system. Listed are some of the things you can do.
- Conserve water. Use water-saving fixtures and conserve water in the kitchen, bath, and laundry to reduce the amount of wastewater the soil has to absorb. This is especially beneficial immediately after a heavy rain as well as during the winter and early spring.
- Repair or replace leaky fixtures. Leaky fixtures add excess water to the drainfield, so fixing them promptly will reduce the amount of water the soil has to absorb.
- Maintain proper cover and landscape over the drainfield. Make sure the drainfield is covered well with grass to prevent soil erosion. A crowned drainfield and surface swales will prevent excess surface water from entering the trench. Also, make certain that gutters, downspouts, patios, walkways, and driveways do not divert water over the drainfield or septic tank.
- Pump your tank regularly. Regular pumping prevents solids from reaching the drainfield and causing it to clog. The tank should be pumped every 3 to 5 years depending on use. Additives have not been shown to significantly reduce the amount of solids in the tank. Do not use them in place of regular septic tank pumping.
- Limit what goes into the septic tank. Do not dispose of chemicals, solvents, cleaning fluids, paint, motor oil, gasoline, and other such substances in the septic tank. They may kill all the beneficial bacteria in the tank and soil as well as pollute the environment. Dispose of these materials properly at your local recycling center or transfer station. Kitty litter, hygiene products, cooking oil, grease, and waste food may clog the system and should be disposed of in the trash. Waste from fruits and vegetables can be composted.
- Do not drive or build over any part of your septic system.
- Inspect the system components routinely. Check for signs of problems that can be corrected before a failure occurs.
US EPA. 1997, April. Response to Congress on Use of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems, EPA 832-R-97-001b. Washington, DC: U.S. EPA, Office of Water.
Hoover, M. T. 1990. Soil Facts: Investigate Before You Invest. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, No. AG-439-12. Raleigh: NC State University.
Hoover, M. T. and T. Konsler. 2004. Soil Facts: Septic Systems and Their Maintenance. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, No. AG-439-13. Raleigh: NC State University.
Hoover, M. T. and W. S. Hammet. 2004. Soil Facts: Septic System Owner’s Guide. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, No. AG-439-22. Raleigh: NC State University.
Tyler, E. J., R. Laak, E. McCoy, and S. S. Sandhu. 1977. The Soil as A Treatment System. In Home Sewage Treatment, ASAE no. 5-77. St. Joseph, MI: American Society of Agricultural Engineers
KEYWORDS: SEPTIC SYSTEMS
To contact a local BioMicrobics distributor or have questions about the S.O.S.-Save Our Septic® Program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-753-FAST (3278) for further assistance.