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Maintaining Your Septic System

When you think about the maintenance of the systems in your home your first thoughts are probably HVAC, electrical and plumbing. However, one overlooked and undervalued system in your home is actually outside your home, the septic system. As with all the systems in your home, if you properly maintain your septic system you can avoid costly repairs.

First, understanding how a septic system works will help you maintain it. The wastewater from your home leaves through a pipe and goes to the septic tank. The waste separates into solid waste (sludge) that sinks to the bottom and oil and grease (scum) rises to the top. There are bacteria in the septic tank that helps to breakdown the sludge. The wastewater then exits the septic tank and goes into the drainage field. The wastewater is released into the soil which removes harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

So one thing you have to watch is what you put down your drains (that goes into your septic tank). Everything that goes down your drains should be biodegradable and septic safe. Flushing things like dental floss, feminine products, paper towels, coffee grounds and other kitchen and bathroom products can clog the tank and drain field. Also, household chemicals, paint, oils and grease can kill the good bacteria in your septic tank. If you have a garbage disposal, you will want to use it sparingly as it will increase the accumulation of sludge and scum.

Another thing to be aware of when you have a septic system is how much water you are using. Per the EPA, the average single-home family uses 70 gallons of indoor water per person per day. Leaking faucets and running toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day. Faucet aerators and high efficiency toilets and showerheads can help reduce excess water usage. Many people like the convenience of washing all their laundry in one day, but with a septic system you need to give your tank time to recover. So it’s recommended to spread your washing, otherwise you risk flooding your drainage field.

Knowing where your septic tank and drainage field are is also very important. You don’t’ want to put anything heavy like a shed, parked car or RV, cement or pool in this area as it can damage the tank and pipes as well as compromise the drainage field. Another thing that can damage your septic system are large trees and shrubs. Roots, especially aggressive roots that come with Willows, can damage pipes and the tank.

Having your tank pumped regularly is part of proper maintenance. Professionals typically charge between $200-$300 for this service, however, it can vary by region. Keep in mind that if they have to dig to find your septic tank that will incur additional fees. When your tank is pumped they should also inspect the tank to make sure everything is in good working condition. The frequency of pumpings varies between owners. No matter the size of your family, if you have a garbage disposal it is recommended that you pump your system annually. If you are a family of four with no garbage disposal, it’s recommended every 2-3 years. If you are a family of two with no garbage disposal, it’s recommended every 4-5 years.

Every few months using a septic tank system treatment, like Rid-X®, by pouring into your toilet can add the bacteria necessary to keep your septic tank performing optimally. For those of you who like homemade treatments, you can pour a liter of spoiled buttermilk down the toilet every few months, as it too is a great source of bacteria. If you notice anything that seems off with your septic system, it is best to contact a professional immediately to address any issues as early as possible.

While this system doesn’t need constant supervision, remembering these key things will help prolong the life of your septic system.

Sources: http://www.epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/homeowner_guide_long.pdf; http://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-a-Septic-System

McKee Homes Building Process Guide

Buying a new home is an exciting and sometimes stressful experience for any homebuyer. In an effort to make sure that the homebuyer is involved in building their home and that their experience is positive and enjoyable, McKee Homes has created a homebuilding guide for presale buyers.  This process also insures that all chosen options and selections are correct and that the home is completed on time.

For a detailed description of each stage of the build process, please see our complete Building Process PDF file.

Preconstruction: Once a homebuyer has chosen a neighborhood, lot and floor plan for their new home and a contract has been signed by both parties, a preconstruction meeting is scheduled with the homebuyer and a representative from McKee Homes. The construction process, features, and options will be reviewed with the homebuyer at the preconstruction meeting and a timeline will be set to ensure that the home is completed by the close date on the contract. If any changes to the structure of the home have been requested by the homebuyer, these will be reviewed and the completion date of the home may be changed to allow for the additional work to be completed.

1. Prepare site 4. Pour Foundation
2. Foundation 5. Rough framing
3. Foundation Inspection

Pre Rough-In Walk Through: The homebuyer is invited to join the project manager on a pre rough-in walk through of the framed house. This walk through will give the homebuyer a chance to discuss the in-wall rough wiring, plumbing and HVAC which will be installed prior to drywall according to the selections and options they have chosen for their new home.

6. Rough plumbing, electrical and HVAC 8. Insulation
7. Framing and Mechanical Inspection 9. Insulation Inspection

Pre Drywall Walk Through: Another walk through with the project manager and homebuyer can be scheduled at this point to go over all utilities that will be covered up by the drywall to make sure everything is in the correct location.

10. Drywall 13. Interior Finish
11. Interior trim, cabinets and paint 14. Exterior Finish
12. Exterior Work 15. Final Inspection

Final Walk Through: The McKee Homes project manager will schedule a walkthrough with the homebuyer to acquaint them with the new home, its features and the operation of various systems and components. They will also explain the warranty process and give the homebuyer an informational packet that includes the appliance and equipment manuals, as well as explain the homebuyers’ responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep. This is also an opportunity for the homebuyer to point out any items that need to be corrected or adjusted. A final punch list will be created at this time based on any items that need to be corrected or adjusted and one more pre-closing walkthrough will be scheduled with the homebuyer.