Clicks, solenoids, timers, Bio Accelerator and our Vortex home sewage treatment tank

by Mars

When it works as it should, you can’t knock the Vortex home sewage treatment plant that the previous owners installed. It works brilliantly. In three years, however, we have learnt that when something goes wrong with the system, you need to deal with the issue immediately. Our first lesson was when the diaphragm on the pump tore and the pump stopped working.

It took us a while to receive the replacement diaphragm, and within a few days you start to realise just how effective the system is when it works. The odour builds up quite quickly and it can start to permeate back into the house via the pipes and drains. We have learnt our lesson, and we now we have a set of replacement diaphragms in the garage so when they tear, we can replace them in a matter of hours.

Last week, we discovered a new thing that can affect the tank’s performance. As part of the system design, you have a pump that blows bubbles into the vibro filter and aerobic chamber. This is the process that breaks down all the matter that’s flushed into the tank.

We started getting a whiff via the drains early last week, so we immediately investigated and popped the lid off the tank. The pump was working, but it was not blowing bubbles into the aeration chamber. Instead, the system was stuck in the sludge return cycle and the timer was making a clicking sound (as per the video below). While there was no sludge build up, it’s clear that the aerobic process is critical in keeping the tank clean and balanced.

We called WTE (the manufacturers of the system) and as it turns out the original (old) analogue timer that switches the pump between the various charges is prone to breaking, and results in the clicking sound. We took the entire unit off and it was badly damaged. We placed an order for the replacement timer and unit, which FedEx was supposed to get to us overnight, but it took them four days to get it to us.

My advice (if this has happened to you) is to take the timer and solenoid off, disconnect the wires so that it’s not powered, and leave it on the side, opting for the pump to blow bubbles into the aeration chamber. This will continue to process the waste. Yes, the sludge will start to build up, but this is easier to deal with once you receive your new timer and the system starts to work again as it should, and it prevents odours from developing. Replacing the timer is a 5-minute job.

The other saving grace was Muck Munchers and its Bio Accelerator product. There were two drains in particular that started to release some odours last week. We put a Muck Munchers sachet in the nearest toilet and dissolved 100ml of Bio Accelerator in one litre of water and poured this down the sink drain.

When we had the faulty pump incident a couple of years ago it took about 3-4 days for the smells to fully dissipate. With Muck Munchers and Bio Accelerator working in tandem, they went to work super quickly, and there were no noticeable smells within about eight hours.

My advice to anyone with a Vortex home sewage treatment plant is to listen whether the pump is working and for any clicking sounds. If you hear anything untoward, investigate and deal with the issue immediately because it doesn’t take long to the tank to start releasing some unpleasant odours.

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