Domestic wastewater is composed of 99.8% water, with the remainder, 200 parts per million, being solids. Household septic systems and municipal systems in Hawaii are designed to accommodate 200 gallons per day per person. The size of the leach field of a septic system is determined by how many people will be using it, and how well the soil “perks”. So, think about this: You have four people in your house and a septic designed for 800 gallons per day. A toilet develops a leak and you don’t hear it. A one gallon per minute(g.p.m.) leak totals 1,440 gallons per day(g.p.d.)! One half of a g.p.m., 770 g.p.d., would saturate the septic system. We have pumped cesspools with our 3,200 gallon tanker and had clients call back a week later to say their cesspools are full again, and want to know why. That is why when we pump we always try to look and listen for leaks. Sometimes you can’t see or hear them though. If a sink is leaking you can see it, but how can you tell if a toilet is leaking? The easiest way is to put food coloring in the tank on the back. Don’t flush. If the coloring shows up in the bowl, there is a leak. Instead of repairing an old 3 or 5 gallon toilet we recommend replacing it with a 1.6 gallon low flow model. Another way to extend the life of your septic or cesspool is to divert washing machine water or “gray” water to a banana patch, or water the lawn with it. Do not allow the water to flow off of your property. Conserve water, save your sewer!

The IWS (Individual Water System) is a biological, or living system. Bacteria are maintained at ideal living conditions. The bacteria eat the sewage and organic material fed to them and convert the sewage to water, gas, and more bacteria. The bacteria can eat only organic matter, so it is very important to control what we put in the sewer. Likewise, any caustic chemicals can kill the Bacteria and degrade the performance of the wastewater plant.

Do not put these items in the sewer: plastics, paint, coffee grounds, egg shells, floss, disposable diapers, condoms, feminine napkins/tampons, cooking oil and grease, acids, gas, motor oil, bleach, and solvents.

  • Minimize water use. Most systems fail because there is too much water! Repair leaks immediately. Wait until there is a full load of laundry. Turn off water while shaving and brushing teeth.
  • Keep a jar beside the kitchen sink to dispose of cooking oil. Use toilet paper labeled “septic safe”. Washing machine water should be diverted to a banana patch or other plant. Keep “gray” water on your property.
  • All sewer systems produce solids which have to be pumped.
  • Septic systems should have an annual inspection.
  • Cooking oil and grease are one of a sewer systems biggest problems. Please work hard to minimize how much goes into the sewer. Remember, not only will it plug up the sewer, it will plug up your heart too!