Keeping Our Septic Tank Happy

Last week I noticed a smell, very unpleasant,  coming from the vent pipe of our septic tank. Well that is just not acceptable, we use that garden area every day and that was just not going to work so I set Joe upon the task of researching on the trusty internet, the solutions to this problem. If the septic tank is not happy Momma is not happy!

First you need to understand the workings of a septic tank system. So we will call this sections Septic Tank 101:

A septic tank should have very little odor… if it does have an odor there is something wrong with the bacterial action. Odor is caused by the lack of bacteria. If you don’t have the correct amount of bacteria in a septic system, you will have terrible odors. Something is killing the bacteria in this septic system and you need to get it balanced or you will have more problems.

Below is a summary of what your systems needs to run efficiently this is from Contractor, the entire article can be found at:

“A septic tank must have oxygen to feed the bacteria to keep them working correctly — living, multiplying and digesting the sewage. Anaerobic and aerobic are the two major types of bacteria in a septic system. In either an aeration system or a leach bed on a regular septic system, aerobic bacteria are the majority of the bacteria and they work much faster than anaerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria in a regular septic tank work on the crust on the top, usually on the topside. They are able to do that because of the air coming from the vent in the house!”

I had heard that flushing a few tablespoons of yeast into your toilet every month helps this. I have been doing this with all the houses that we have lived in for the past six years, but the amount was nowhere near what Joe discovered. His research discovered that if you “feed your septic tank” a pound of yeast and a cup of brown sugar each month your septic tank will thank you by doing its job more efficiently and you should not smell any odor at all.

Here are a few more articles that talk about this natural way of balancing your septic tank so that it works better for you.

I only had 175 grams of dry yeast and a little under a cup of brown sugar so I put around 100 grams of yeast and all of the  brown sugar down the toilet. Within that same day there was no odor from the vent pipe at all.

The big issues in small towns like San Clemente is there are not any companies out there that pump septic tanks. So if you have a problem you may be waiting a very long time before you can get the municipality to come in to pump. This happened to us in Playas, once it started to rain the septic tanks filled and our home was put on a list, it took weeks for our tank to be pumped…it was not a happy situation. Prevention is your best solution!

The other issue discussed was to keep an alkaline environment in the septic tank – acidic is caused by the beaches and other cleaners especially that find their way down the sink and toilet and shower.  We need to find more baking soda to add this as well.

8 thoughts on “Keeping Our Septic Tank Happy

  1. Ah yes, septic tanks! But, not long before we left Florida the city forced the whole area to change from septic to sewer, and our water bills went from around $25 to $80-100/month. We have septic here, so thanks for the info and reminders to give it a bit of TLC now and then.

    • Hi Kris, I hope this helps you. Every day Joe and I find new things that make our lives a bit easier here. Because we do not have all of the pre-packaged things that folks would use in the states we need to find the old-fashoined way our grandparents did it back in their day. Joe loves to research and is very good at it, and I am the implementer ha ha Nancy

      PS my last water bill was $11.20 but I must admit I have been watering the yard daily, giving it a good soak…Also we got the greatest complement from one of our neighbors, we have been passing out lemons (little green limes) to the neighbors almost weekly for our tree. Gina stopped one day and said that these were juciy and not duro…with a gleam in her eyes she said it was because I was watering the trees..It made my heart soar that my efforts are paying off…we do feel blessed!

      • Good work with the lemons! We are watering here too because we’re getting very little rain this time of year. Our bill is $7 though for as much water as we want, and it’s included in the rent. And people have to ask why we left Florida?!

        • Kris, we feel so blessed with all we have here. Florida was fablous our last home in the US was outside of Atlanta and that was great as well, but we can no longer afford to live there unless I was working a big full time we are together all day long and are having the best time in our lives. Be well, Nancy

  2. Nancy
    I have been considering retiring in Ecuador, and was doing some research when I found your blog, though you might be interested in a simple solution to your septic issues
    I am an Environmental Consultant specifically Faculative bio-remediation of waste water in Calgary Alberta Canada, I have read your blog on the smell from your septic tank and your efforts to make it work better with yeast and sugar.
    I have been designing and working with stand alone wastewater sytems in the oil patch in Alberta for 15 years and as such have seen it all,I have a simple and cheap solution for you and anyone else who has such a problem, it is called bio-augmentation. using naturally occuring bacteria in large volumes to consume the waste, leaving no smell and only 7 cm of sludge…for years, no pumping required.
    We have been using these bacteria in work camps and on oil rigs for 15 years, treating 1,800 gallons of waste per dayper camp so efficiently it can be pumped onto the ground.

    the by-product is carbon dioxide, fatty acids and water, I have one client has not pumped his system in 12 years, the product comes in 2oz water soluble packages that you put in your toilet, every 2 months, the cost is 10 dollars a pouche.
    glad your having a great time there, hoping to be there in the next few years.

    Dave G

    • Good Morning Dave, I would love to find out more about this product. I would order it on line and have it shipped to the next person coming in to San Clemente who has room in their luggage. thanks for your comment, Nancy

      • Nancy, my good friend and co-worker Tim will be moving to San Clemente in a few months. He has been there and loved it. He will be staying at the Vista for a few months with his wife Natalie. We all have been reading your posts here in Michigan. It just so happens that Tim and I (Andrew) talked about Ecuador septic systems today. He plans on building after arriving and I do to. Of Course after I visit, when Tim moves there permanently this summer. You might have met them in passing during the end March week. They love it and that is all they talk about, San Clemente, Ecuador. Your Posts have been very inspiring and at the same time informative for all of us here. From the fruit drinks and jelly you make, or Joe going to the hospital and the cost of the visit. But when you posted the electric going out and all the neighbors coming out to fix the problem, that struck Tim and I. Funny how the power goes out in the States and we get worried who is going to break in and steal something, and there they all get together on the road to figure out what is wrong, lets get it fixed attitude. It is amazing that just last night on CNN there was a positive commercial about moving to Equador. Please keep on typing, even though that is the last thing you might want to be doing on you permanent vacation, Thanks Andrew 22 Apr 2014

        • Hi Andrew, thanks so much to you and your friends in Michigan for following our blog. I appreciate your kinds words and hope that when you arrive you find the people and country to your liking. San Clemente is small and not for everyone. We like more quiet and our home is on a road with only locals. They are fisherman mostly and the experience has been wonderful. My biggest issues is not being able to speak better Spanish. Several of the neighbors go above and beyond in trying to understand, acting as translators, sharing their food, being kind and generous to us, the outsiders. Many things are different here compared to the US, we are still learning, growing and changing. It may take the rest of our lives to speak in full sentences and we are willing to keep an open mind and heart just like our lovely neighbors. Nancy

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