Sanitary Tee & Filter Replacement
Signs of Trouble With Septic Sanitary Tank Tees and Filters
Odors around the drainfield might be due to loss of the septic sanitary teein the septic tank. Of course such odors may also be due to a failing drainfield, so further diagnosis is in order. Checking the presence and condition of the septic tank outlet tee is done at the septic tank and should be quick and easy. If the outlet tee is lost it should be replaced, but you should also assume that the drainfield has a somewhat reduced future life. Failing drainfields may have been caused in part by a previous loss of the septic tank outlet tee. Because lost septic tank tees are both a possible cause and a diagnostic aid in the occurrence of septic system smells or odors.
The purpose of the inlet sanitary tee is twofold: to direct flow from the house sewer downward into the tank to create a longer detention time for the sewage to allow settling of solids, and to keep the floating scum layer from plugging the inlet pipe. The outlet baffle also has two functions: to prevent floating scum or debris from passing to the drainfield, and to ensure the effluent moving to the next part of the system is from the clear effluent zone. The tees we use today enhance the first function through the use of effluent screens to keep large floating solids or debris from passing downstream.
Your septic tank is an important part of your septic system, but your sanitary tee plays a very important role — in fact, missing tees can cause serious damage to your system. So what is a tee? It is a device which directs the flow of wastewater in and out of your septic tank. They can be made of clay, concrete, or PVC pipe. The inlet tee directs the flow of wastewater into your septic tank, and prevents the scum layer in the tank from being disturbed. It also can help prevent solids from backing up toward the house if you should experience a septic system backup. The outlet baffle directs the flow of effluent from the tank to the drainfield; it prevents the scum layer from exiting straight into the outlet pipe and causing drainfield clogs and premature system failure.
We often open a septic tank to discover that one or both tees are missing or damages. This can only be determined by looking in the tank, and in some cases the tank has to be pumped first order to see inside. When we see a tee is missing, we look at the bottom of the tank when it is pumped to see if the tee fell off. If a tee is missing but it’s not laying at the bottom of the tank, then it’s a safe assumption that it was never installed. If you pump your septic tank regularly, the pumping technician should be checking the baffles. Lentz Wastewater can replace and install sanitary tees.
If your septic system becomes clogged and you frequently have to clean the filter, you might be tempted to simply remove it. Keep it. Septic tanks work by allowing waste to separate into three layers: solids, effluent and scum. The solids settle to the bottom, where microorganisms decompose them. The scum, composed of waste that’s lighter than water, floats on top. The middle layer of effluent exits the tank and travels through underground perforated pipes into the drainage field. There, gravel and soil act as biological filters to purify the wastewater as it sinks into the ground.
Your state health code requires an outlet effluent filter, so keep it in place. Removing the filter could create a far worse (and expensive) problem. Without the filter, waste particles could pass into the drainfield and clog them. It would require extensive digging to clean and unclog the system.
However, your filter should not need semiannual cleaning. Most filters don’t have to be cleaned until the tank is pumped, which is typically every two to five years. Chances are you’re putting filter-clogging materials down your drain, such as grease, fat or food scraps.
The use of a garbage disposal is a common mistake. A disposer won’t break down food particles enough to allow them to pass through the septic tank filter. It can increase the amount of solids in the septic tank by as much as 50 percent. Flushing plastic materials, disposable diapers, paper towels, nonbiodegradable products and tobacco will also clog the system.