Administration Code, Section 905.120 requires that wastewater effluent
which is discharged to the ground surface and leaves the property, or
which is discharged into a pond, lake, or stream in which swimming,
water skiing, or other water contact occurs shall be disinfected with a
Many of the houses in Indian Creek have a sand filtered septic system
for wastewater treatment. How do you know if you have one? A sand filter
septic system has three above ground components: 1) a vent filter, which
is often a T shaped PVC pipe, 2) a capped PVC pipe for the chlorinator,
and 3) a capped PVC pipe used for clean out and taking samples. The
chlorinator pipe is usually the capped pipe between the vent and the
To treat your
wastewater, you need to place a chorine disinfectant tablet in the
chlorinator pipe on a monthly basis. There are two types of chlorine
tablets found on the market: calcium hypochlorite and chlorinated
isocyanurates. Calcium hypochlorite tablets should be used for
wastewater treatment. Brand names include Norweco’s Blue Crystal or
Bio-sanitizer tablets. These tablets are very reactive and quickly kill
bacteria present in wastewater. Just as importantly, the chlorine
residual dissipates rapidly so that it will not damage the receiving
environment, which in our case is Money Creek.
The other type of
chlorine tablet is chlorinated isocyanurates, which are commonly called
swimming pool tablets or “Tri-Chlors”. DO NOT USE TRI-CHLORS.
Tri-Chlors dissolve more slowly and create a residual that does not
readily dissipate. Designed to be total immersed in water, Tri-Chlor
tablets that are exposed to periodic flows of a septic system begin to
decompose and release an explosive gas called nitrogen trichloride.
Tri-chlor tablets should not be used in your septic system as it is
dangerous and violates Section 905.120 since Tri-Chlors are not labeled
as suitable for wastewater treatment.
All chorine products
are hazardous and must handled with care. Calcium hypochlorite tablets
can be purchased on the Internet. Bio-sanitizer tablets are sold at the
local ACE Hardware store on College Ave in Normal. A 10 pound bucket
(32 tablets) is $51.99 and a 25 pound bucket (80 tablets) is $94.99.
You might consider splitting the cost of a 25 pound bucket with a couple
of your neighbors. I purchased tablets from Cary Zeschke for $1.50 each
when he pumped out my septic tank. Zeschke Septic Cleaning is at 408 S.
Robinson in Bloomington (309-530-4282 or 828-3535). Cary recommended
using one tablet per month for our household of 2. He cautioned me not
to overload with tablets as they can “gum-up” the chlorinator pipe.
learned at the January, 2009, homeowners meeting that the McLean County
Health Dept. tested one of the houses in our subdivision when it sold
this summer and finding no presence of chlorine in their sand filter
septic, fined the sellers.
Keep trees and shrubs at least 35 feet away from your
field to prevent roots from plugging or breaking pipes. The roots of a
tree will go out as far as the branches.
Limit the water entering your septic tank, and give
your system time to rest after heavy use. Use water saving fixtures,
repair leaky toilets and dripping faucets. Do not connect foundation
sump pumps or other ‘clean water’ discharges to your septic system.
Driveways, patios, aboveground pools and other
structures should not be built over the absorption field. As much as
1/3 of the water in septic fields evaporates up through the ground
over the absorption field.
Avoid using garbage disposals. They add tremendously
to the volume of solids entering a septic tank.
Use toilet paper that decomposes easily. Purchase
brands labeled ‘safe’ for septic systems.
Keep water softener discharges out of your septic
Read product labels. Use low phosphorus detergents
and cleaning products. Avoid anti-bacterial products and chlorine
Never flush things like disposable diapers, bones,
sanitary napkins, tampons, coffee grounds, plastic band aids, dental
floss, and cigarette butts. They will not break down.
Route surface water drainage away from your absorption
field. Snowmelt, rain, and other surface runoff can temporarily
inundate your field.
Additives are not needed because there are enough
natural bacteria in the tank. No additive can alleviate the need to
regularly pump your septic tank; some may actually promote clogging of
your absorption field or contaminate groundwater. Save your money.
Maintain scheduled cleaning. Replacing the system is
expensive and inconvenient. A septic system is about the most
expensive part of your home and yet is the most neglected (out of
sight, out of mind).
The main way to avoid septic system
failure is periodic tank pumping. You HAVE to do this. When a tank is
not pumped often enough, there is less settling time for waste entering
the tank. Small bits of floating solids are then carried out into the
leach field and begin clogging the soil. This will shorten and
eventually end its life.
The frequency of pumping depends on tank
size, the volume of wastewater (number of occupants), and the amount of
solids in the wastewater (garbage disposal). A family of four, without a
garbage disposal, would need to have a 1000 gallon tank cleaned every
2.5 years; 4 years for a 1500 gallon tank. See
for estimates of needed
septic tank pumping frequencies.