Are you getting your roof done this Memorial Day weekend?

With the recent hail storms across Colorado, many homeowners are getting their Denver roofs repaired over the 3-day weekend. And it is really a perfect time to do so. You and your family can go out and enjoy some of the fun events and activities while you leave the roofing to us experts at Interstate Roofing! Memorial Day weekend events guide for 2017 Summer is just around the corner. We can smell the hot dogs wafting in the air. The grills are getting fired up in backyards across the state. Ball games are being played at Coors Field. The kids are out of school (or should be soon). And now we’ve got a three-day weekend ahead.

Colorado knows how to celebrate the first unofficial kickoff to summer. It’s time to fill Memorial Day weekend up with loads of fun. But where to start?

We’ve rounded up 14 fantastic Colorado Memorial Day events and activities just for you. Water parks are opening, bands are gearing up to hit stages, kegs are being tapped and campsites are getting booked.

Share your Memorial Day memories with us by letting us know what you checked off your summer bucket list. Check out the events at here…


Keep A Healthy Mouth This Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is here, which means lots of barbecues and food! While Memorial Day commences the start of summer, we can’t neglect our oral health. Here are some tips to keeping your smile in prime condition during your festivities.

If you have any other oral health concerns, reach out to us. Colorado Smile Design is here to help you have the best smile possible! a healthy mouth this Memorial Day weekend Memorial Day is the first official day of summer for many Americans. We break out the grills, open up pools and prepare for the next three months of outdoor activities and warm weather. To ring in this exciting time of the year, millions of Americans are going to be hitting the road and sleeping under the stars. Whether you’re camping in a tent or bunking in a cabin, make sure you’re not neglecting your oral health this holiday weekend. Be equipped with handy tips and helpful hints to keep your breath fresh and teeth clean while enjoying this fun summer kick-off.

Starchy produce –  Have you ever heard that if you need to clean your teeth but don’t have access to a toothbrush and toothpaste that you should eat an apple? It’s actually true. Apples, as well as carrots and celery, are a great healthy aid for getting rid of dental plaque on your teeth. The starchiness of these fruits and vegetables work in a slightly abrasive manner to clean the teeth when you’re in a dire situation. While this shouldn’t replace your regular brushing and flossing, it can keep teeth clean when you’re out in the wilderness, boating and the like.

Keep it healthy – When you’re camping, dieting rules seem to go out the window. You munch on hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and cookies, but this could quickly lead to bad breath. Grilled food is often greasy and unhealthy – but, it sure is tasty! Additionally, sugar-filled treats like cookies, cupcakes or brownies can cause just as much damage. These sweet goodies “feed” the anaerobic bacteria in the mouth, causing bad breath and other oral health issues. While you don’t have to maintain a strict diet when you’re on vacation this Memorial Day weekend, make sure to balance out the bad foods with some good ones. For example, try to include a side salad with each meal, and have fresh watermelon, strawberries and pineapple out for those with a sweet tooth.

Water – During your holiday weekend, you might be tempted sip on seasonal cocktails or drink a crisp, refreshing beer to get you through the festivities, but it’s important to remember to drink water with alcoholic beverages. Not only will water keep you from getting dehydrated and having a hangover – which can definitely put a damper on the entire weekend, it can help to keep bad breath at bay. When you are experiencing dry mouth – possibly due to dehydration – the bacteria in your mouth just sit at the back of the tongue. This is the perfect setting for bad breath to creep in. If you continue to drink water throughout the day, you’ll be washing away bacteria to help maintain a fresh mouth.

Sugar-free gum –  You may be out on the boat or hiking through the wilderness, but that isn’t an excuse for bad breath. Chew on a stick of sugar-free gum, like TheraBreath Fresh Breath Chewing Gum, and you won’t have to worry about stinking up the great outdoors. Gum is a great solution for anyone suffering from dry mouth because it helps stimulate saliva flow that rinses away bacteria. At the same time, the formula works to freshen your breath no matter where you may be.

Just because it is a holiday weekend doesn’t mean that you have to take a holiday from your oral health habits. In addition to brushing and flossing as much as you can, try to follow these helpful healthy mouth guidelines while you’re kicking off the summer to maintain a healthy mouth.


Denver’s Costliest Hailstorm

Colorado has seen a lot of ugly weather lately, and it doesn’t come cheap. Recently, Denver was struck with its costliest hailstorm coming in at $1.4 billion in damages. We’ve seen the destruction and our thoughts go out to all involved.

Need help recovering from the storms? That’s what we’re here for. From roofing to assisting with insurance claims, we’ve got it handled. Give us a call! Colorado Superior Roofing is the preferred contractor, maintaining a 5 Star Rating from Home Services Review. that struck Denver is metro area’s costliest ever at $1.4 billion The hailstorm that pounded west metro Denver with golf ball- and baseball-sized stones on May 8 will rank as the most expensive catastrophe in state history, according to estimates Tuesday from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

The insurance industry trade group estimates that more than 150,000 auto insurance claims and more than 50,000 homeowners insurance claims will be filed, resulting in $1.4 billion in insured losses.

“It isn’t an exact science, and we try to be conservative,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the trade group. “The cost of claims will likely go up.”

At $1.4 billion, the storm will surpass the $1.1 billion in damage claims, adjusted for inflation, that a storm on July 11, 1990, generated and the $845.5 million in claims tied to a storm on July 20, 2009.

It will also be three times more expensive than the state’s most damaging wildfire, which destroyed 346 homes in the Waldo Canyon area of Colorado Springs in June 2012 and generated $453.7 million in payouts at the time.

“The enormous size of the hail hitting densely populated areas of the Denver metro (area) during rush hour has contributed to the magnitude of damage caused by this storm,” Walker said.

Golden, north Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and northwest Denver suffered the hardest hits, with damage also reported in Commerce City, insurers said.

One factor that sets the May 8 storm apart from earlier ones is that it is on track to generate more auto claims ($710 million) than home claims ($704 million).

“It is a high number of auto claims as opposed to home,” said Walker.

Farmers Insurance Group has seen about 60 percent of damage claims come in on the auto side and 40 percent on the home side, said Carrie Bonney, a spokeswoman for the insurer. Normally, the split is in the other direction.

Part of that reflects the storm’s timing. Cars were out in the open at workplace parking lots or on roads during early rush-hour traffic.

Also, Angela Thorpe, a spokeswoman with State Farm, said the path of the storm took it through areas with a heavy concentration of multifamily housing, where fewer carports and garages are available to shelter vehicles from the elements.

The storm also carried a big punch, with stones so large in some areas that they didn’t just dent hoods and roofs, but shattered and punched through windshields.

Read more…

Plumbing 101

Not everyone understands how plumbing works, and that’s okay – that’s our job. However, if you’re intrigued about your home plumbing and want a better understanding of how it all works, look no further!

Have more questions about plumbing or sewage? Give Go Direct a call! 101 for the Home | HomeAdvisor Plumbing is an important aspect of a home’s water and waste system which consists of the pipes and system used to carry water through and away from a home. While some jobs require the services of a professional plumber, there are other jobs that can be handled by homeowners; however, before anyone attempts to make their own plumbing repairs, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the project attempted as well as the tools required. With a bit of patience and study, many plumbing repairs can be completed by homeowners without the services of a professional.

Tongue and groove pliers are also known as water pump pliers. These pliers are one of the most essential tools used in plumbing projects. The pliers have long handles that help the individual using them reach out-of-the-way nuts and bolts. The serrated and grooved edges ensure that even hardware drenched in water is easy to grasp and turn. Making use of the right pair of pliers will make plumbing tasks much easier.

A compression sleeve puller is used by those who want to ensure they can remove a compression sleeve without expending a great deal of energy. The puller is used to remove a sleeve that is damaged or leaking, without causing damage to appliances or walls. Because compression sleeves are tightly secured, it is imperative to use the puller for their removal. If a pipe is damaged, it will need to be replaced before you restore the compression sleeve.

A sink or basin wrench is specially designed for reaching locations that are inaccessible with other wrenches or by hand. One of the most notable differences of a basin wrench when compared to other wrenches is that it has locking jaws that clamp down over nuts and bolts. Basin wrenches can be used for securing or removing fasteners that otherwise would be unreachable. Basin wrenches are imperative to the successful completion of a wide array of plumbing jobs.

An adjustable wrench is a good tool to use when you have easy access to nuts, bolts, and other fixtures currently being worked on. Unlike the basin wrench that is a long, thin tube used for hard-to-reach areas, an adjustable wrench can be used in accessible locations. When performing plumbing work, it’s important to know which tools are best for the task at hand. Knowing the differences between wrenches will ensure that you complete projects in the most efficient manner possible.

A pipe wrench is used on iron pipes as well as for fixtures with rounded surfaces. Because of the tightening effect of the jaws, pipe wrenches are best used on soft nuts. When choosing pipe wrenches, it’s important to know the best size for the job as pipe wrenches come in different sizes and widths. One of the most beneficial things to remember when performing home plumbing repairs is that many homeowners already have the required tools.

When a project requires plastic, PVC, or even some metals which can be cut, a hacksaw is often the preferred tool of choice. Hacksaws are hand operated and require the user to have ease of access in order to continue sawing the object until it is completely severed. Hacksaws are available in different blade sizes and weights. Choose the best saw for your needs and make certain the blade will easily handle any plumbing task.


Keep the Roof Over Your Head in Good Shape for Longer

Roof One doesn’t just fix your roof, we help to maintain it. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s important to have a roof that supports your home for a number of years. To help you upkeep your roof, here are some DIY tips! the Roof Over Your Head in Good Shape for Longer – Articles – Networx “A roof over one’s head” is a synonym for home. And no wonder … your roof faithfully performs the essential task of shielding your family and your belongings from the elements. Return the favor by taking good care of your roof. These simple tips will help extend its useful life.

Maintain Your Roof

Don’t allow leaves or snow to accumulate on your roof. (Clear out gutters regularly too!) Leaves will trap moisture from dew and rain, holding it against the roof where it can do damage. Snow will melt and refreeze, causing ice dams. In addition, the sheer weight of a winter’s worth of snow may be more than your elderly roof was designed to handle.

Trim any overhanging tree limbs so they’re no less than 10 feet from your roof. Not only will this prevent leaves falling onto the house, it also safeguards against branches scraping the roof during a storm. Third, exposing the roof to sunlight deters the growth of moss and mold. Last but not least, this measure blocks access to your roof by squirrels and other animal pests.

Avoid walking on the roof to inspect or clean it. This can be dangerous for both your roof and yourself. Standing solidly on the ground, use a dedicated non-metal roof rake to pull off fresh snow or fallen leaves. Spray with a garden hose to remove moss or algae buildup in summer. Avoid pressure washing, which has tremendous destructive potential when unleashed on your roof; the powerful stream can loosen roofing tabs, unglue the shingles’ self-adhesive, and wash off the reflective granules.

Schedule a professional roof inspection regularly every 2-3 years, as well as after severe weather like hail or heavy winds.

Ventilate the Attic

During the winter, people tend to keep their homes closed up. This allows warm moist air from showering, cooking, or running appliances such as humidifiers to collect in your attic if it is not adequately ventilated. And guess what is sitting right on top of your attic? Hello! The underside of your roof.

The situation is no better in summertime when an insufficiently ventilated attic can play host to air at temperatures as high as 160 degrees. This kind of heat is very, very bad news for your roof rafters and asphalt shingles.

Don’t despair, though. If you have properly functioning air intake vents combined with exhaust ventilation in your attic, excessive heat and moisture will be directed where you want them, outside the house.

Watch Out for Roofing’s Red Flags

Stay alert. Loose, buckled, or missing shingles need to be taken care of ASAP, as they are an open invitation for moisture to penetrate your roof. If you tackle the problem early enough, you may need to replace only the affected shingles, instead of paying for a whole new roof.

Damp or peeling patches on your attic ceiling, dripping water, or light shining through are obvious signs that your roof is in big trouble. However, those are not the only red flags to watch out for. Exposed roof beams or doors and windows that are suddenly hard to open may also be signaling that excess moisture is getting into your house, most likely via the roof. All of these symptoms are another indication that it’s time to call in a roofing contractor.

Recognize when it’s Time to Replace

All good things eventually come to an end, and your roofing material is no exception. After a certain point, it makes more sense to replace, rather than to repair, the roof, namely when one or more of these is true:


How Addiction Impacts the Family


Alcoholism or any type of addiction affects everyone in the family in some way. Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, a respected expect in the field of addictions and codependency, identified six primary roles in an alcoholic family as a way to highlight the effects of alcoholism on the alcoholics spouse and children.

You’ve probably heard it from at least one alcohol rehab center in Denver, alcoholism affects everyone.  Some people may be affected by friends, and some people may be directly impacted by their own families. Below describes each person’s role in such a family situation. Understanding these roles may help someone encourage recovery, or go to recovery themselves.

I want to preface this article by saying that I know that labeling people doesn’t usually feel good and often it isn’t accurate. However, it can be useful in getting a general picture of the common dynamics in families dealing with addiction. Like anything else, please take the aspects of these family roles that apply to you and your family and leave the rest.  Individuals and family systems are complex. In reality, people don’t fall neatly into categories. You may have played more than one role at different times in your life or you may identify with a combination of these traits and coping strategies.

The Addict

Addicts having varying degrees of functioning or fulfilling their responsibilities. For most, addiction progresses with the quantity and frequency of their drug or alcohol use increasing.  Drugs and alcohol become the primary way the addict copes with problems and uncomfortable feelings. Over time, addicts burn bridges and become isolated. Their lives revolve around alcohol and drugs – getting more, using, and recovering. They blame others for their problems, can be angry and critical, unpredictable, and don’t seem to care about how their actions affect others. We could also substitute other forms of addiction or dysfunction (sex addiction, gambling, unmanaged mental health problems) for drug or alcohol addiction and the dynamics are virtually the same.

The Enabler (Caretaker)

The enabler tries to reduce harm and danger through enabling behaviors such as making excuses or doing things for the addict. The enabler denies that alcohol/drugs are a problem. The enabler tries to control things and hold the family together through deep denial and avoidance of problems. The enabler goes to extremes to ensure that family secrets are kept and that the rest of world views them as a happy, well-functioning family. The enabler is often the addict’s spouse, but it can also be a child.

The Hero

The hero is an overachiever, perfectionist, and extremely responsible. This child looks like he has it all together. He tries to bring esteem to the family through achieving and external validation. He’s hard working, serious, and wants to feel in control. Heroes put a lot of pressure on themselves, they’re highly stressed, often workaholics with Type A personalities.

MORE: How Addiction Impacts the Family: 6 Family Roles in a Dysfunctional or Alcoholic Family 

Budgeting for Home Repairs and Improvements

Summer is around the corner, which usually means peak home improvement season. We understand that creating the right budget to fix all of your home repairs and improvements can be tough. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Once you figure out your budget, give Roof One a call! We’d be happy to offer your our contracting services. Can I Afford Home Improvement And Repair? – Articles – Networx Is there a contractor in your future? After a long hard winter, you might very well need a few fenceposts replaced — or a whole new roof. Or perhaps you’d like to celebrate spring by installing your dream kitchen or patio. Not to be a Debby Downer, but all those things cost money. Before you pick up the phone to hire a roofer, remodeler, or concrete specialist, take a good hard look at how you can afford the home repair or improvement you’re considering.

DISCLAIMER: Loan periods and interest rates vary. Consult your financial adviser for detailed information about your specific situation.

THINK, THINK, THINKMake a list of all the repairs and home improvement projects that you are daydreaming about. Then bring those dreams down to earth by carefully considering each task:

Prioritize your spending; allocate funds first to crucial home repairs or renovation projects that offer an excellent return on investment, such as attic insulation (107.7% ROI) or entry door replacement (90.7% for a new steel door).

DO YOUR HOMEWORKThe internet makes it fast and easy to research your pet projects. Compare price, appearance, and durability of various materials – for example, hardwood flooring versus laminate. Check out ways to save without sacrificing quality … perhaps by buying tiles in last year’s style (just be sure to purchase a few extra to allow for breakage and future repairs). Find out the going rate for home improvement contractors in your area. In addition to materials and labor, allow sufficient funds for hidden costs. To illustrate: during a major home remodel, you might have to find temporary accommodation and furniture storage for a while.

LOOK FOR FREE MONEYIn the case of a repair, start by checking with your insurance provider to see whether your homeowners policy will cover the job. Investigate federal, state, and municipal grants, community development programs, or assistance from nonprofit organizations for essential home repairs and/or improvements. Search for rebates, tax credits, and incentives offered by government agencies or utility companies on environmentally friendly upgrades, such as the installation of high-efficiency HVAC equipment.

DIY OR NOT?Do-it-yourself might seem like an easy, affordable solution and there are lots of instructional videos that show how to perform simple repairs — like fixing a dripping faucet. It’s important to be realistic, though. Do you have the time and patience (not to mention the practical skills and equipment) to do a topnotch job? Make sure to pull all necessary permits and work to code. Negligence in this area may lead to more financial trouble down the road, when you try making insurance claims or selling your house.

USE CREDIT CARDS — WISELYAre you surprised at the idea of financing home improvement with plastic? It actually makes more sense than you might think for projects under $15,000. Your card can provide quick funding up to your credit limit, without the paperwork of a bank loan – very useful when you suddenly need to repair a roof leak or spruce up before an open house. The debt is unsecured so you don’t risk losing your house if you get behind in the payments. You’ll also earn yourself a bundle of rewards points. Best-case scenario: take advantage of low- or no-interest credit card promotions and be sure to pay off your balance in full before the offer expires. Otherwise, you will be facing hefty interest charges, to the tune of 15 percent or higher.

TAKE A PERSONAL LOANFor improvements or repairs costing between $15,000 and $50,000, a personal loan might be the way to go. The application process is streamlined and this type of unsecured loan does not require you to put up your home as collateral. Interest rates are fairly high, though, starting at approximately 7 percent APR or more, depending on your credit rating, geographical location, loan amount, and term.

TAP YOUR HOME EQUITYOn the other hand, to finance $15,000-50,000 worth of work on your house, your best bet could be a home equity line of credit (aka “a second mortgage”), especially if your credit rating is not so hot. A HELOC offers lower interest rates than an unsecured personal loan – about 4 percent with an excellent credit rating — and is convenient to use for multiple small home improvement expenses, but you are literally betting the farm (or your home) that you will be able to make the payments on time every month.

COVER HOME AND IMPROVEMENTS WITH A 203KAre you considering buying a fixer-upper — or does your current home need some fundamental repairs? An FHA 203K loan could be the right type of financing for you. It is basically a mortgage (new or refinanced) that covers both the house purchase price and the planned improvements. Interest charges on this type of loan may amount to as much as 1 percent more than conventional mortgage financing, but it offers 2 major advantages: a 203K allows you to borrow a substantial amount and pay it off over an extended period.

Read more…

Snow in Spring

Well folks, it looks like Colorado is getting hit with another wave of snow. This time it’s from Winter Storm Valerie. Make sure you prepare yourselves and your home for this cold front!

If you need any assistance, give Colorado Superior Roofing a call. Winter Storm Valerie has dumped feet of snow on parts of the Rockies.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect.

Wet snow is also affecting lower elevations of Wyoming and Colorado, including Denver.

The combination of wet snow and wind will likely lead to tree damage and power outages.

Winter Storm Valerie is an unusually strong late-spring snowstorm that has already dumped more than three feet of snow on the Rockies, caused tree damage and power outages, and also forced road closures.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories remain in effect throughout Wyoming and the mountains of Colorado. These warnings include the cities of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Denver.

The majority of snow from Valerie will continue to fall over parts of Wyoming and Colorado into Friday.

More than three feet of snow had fallen in the higher elevations of Colorado as of late Thursday, particularly in Boulder County. Snowfall rates of 1-3 inches per hour have been observed.

Several thousand Xcel Energy customers in Boulder and Jefferson County, Colorado, had lost power as of late Thursday.

The top amount from Valerie so far is 38.2 inches near Ward, Colorado. 8.4 inches of that total fell in just under three hours Thursday afternoon.

The snow has forced a stretch of Interstate 80 to be closed in Wyoming between Laramie and Cheyenne, according to the Wyoming DOT. More than a foot of snow has fallen in parts of Wyoming from Valerie.

The Front Range of Colorado, including the Denver metro area, will see its most significant snow through Friday morning. The greatest impacts, including power outages and tree damage, are expected west of Interstate 25.


What’s With Morning Breath?

We’ve all been awakened by the stink of morning breath – whether it’s yours or someone else’s. So how do we tackle it? Well, below is an article that explains how/why morning breath occurs and different tips to help treat it.

If you find that you’re still struggling, stop by Colorado Smile Design. We care about your oral health! Do We Have Bad Breath in the Morning? – Dental Health – Everyday Health Does this sound familiar? You wake up in the morning and quickly cover your mouth with your hand so your partner doesn’t get a whiff of your bad breath. Morning breath, halitosis — whatever you call it, it can be unpleasant and it probably isn’t the way you want to greet your partner, or the day.

“Everyone has morning breath to some degree,” says Sally J. Cram, DDS, a periodontist in the Washington, D.C., area and a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. Here’s the simple reason why: When you sleep, your mouth dries out. When your mouth dries out, odor-producing bacteria proliferate. “When you sleep, your normal flow of saliva decreases,” Dr. Cram explains. “That’s why your breath can be worse in the morning.”

If you snore or breathe through your mouth at night, you’re more likely to have bad breath in the morning than those who don’t, she adds. In both situations, your mouth is even more prone to drying out, setting the stage for bacteria to grow.

Other Causes of Bad Breath

Some medications can cause your mouth to become dry overnight, worsening your halitosis. That’s why older people, who are often on many medications, frequently find their breath more unpleasant in the morning.

Smokers also may find they have bad morning breath. Smoking not only causes your saliva — your natural mouth rinse — to dry up but also can raise the temperature of your mouth, making it a breeding ground for that dreaded bacteria that causes bad breath. Add this to your list of reasons to quit smoking.

Allergies, too, can lead to bad breath. The mucus that drips down the back of your throat becomes a food source for bacteria. Should your postnasal drip become infected, it can put more odor-causing bacteria in your mouth.

How to Treat Bad Breath

If you’re one of the 65 percent of Americans with halitosis, there’s good news: Bad breath is treatable.

Brush. Odor-causing bacteria accumulate between your teeth and on your tongue, so practicing good dental hygiene will do a lot to improve your morning breath.

When you brush, be sure to do so for at least two minutes, not the 35 or 40 seconds that many people do.

After you brush, go directly to bed! “Don’t eat or drink anything so you’re not leaving food in your mouth,” Cram says.

Also, when you brush your teeth, brush your tongue too. Another favorite repository for odor-causing bacteria is the back of your tongue. You’ll notice your breath is fresher in the morning if you brush your tongue before you go to bed.

“Eighty-five percent of bad breath comes from the tongue,” says New York dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS, the president and founder of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. “It really helps tremendously to use a tongue cleanser before you go to sleep, or anytime during the day.”

Floss. Brushing alone won’t remove the food particles that can become stuck between your teeth and gums. “Flossing is as important as brushing,” says Kimberly Harms, DDS, a dentist in Farmington, Minn., and a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association.

Rinse. Mouthwash will get rid of the odor but only temporarily. Cram suggests that when you are buying mouthwash to kill the germs that can cause bad breath, you look for one that has a seal of approval from the American Dental Association.

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Sewer and Septic Systems 101

Ever wondered what happens after you flush the toilet? Well, here’s a breakdown of how sewer systems and septic lines work.

At GoDirect we’re happy to take care of all your plumbing and sewage situations. Let us handle the crap! Sewer and Septic Systems Work | HowStuffWorks In this article, we will look at one of inner workings of sewer systems so that you can understand how they handle the billions of gallons of wastewater that the world produces every day!

A septic tank is simply a big concrete or steel tank that is buried in the yard. The tank might hold 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) of water. Wastewater flows into the tank at one end and leaves the tank at the other. The tank looks something like this in cross-section:

In this picture, you can see three layers. Anything that floats rises to the top and forms a layer known as the scum layer. Anything heavier than water sinks to form the sludge layer. In the middle is a fairly clear water layer. This body of water contains bacteria and chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorous that act as fertilizers, but it is largely free of solids.

Wastewater comes into the septic tank from the sewer pipes in the house, as shown here:

A septic tank naturally produces gases (caused by bacteria breaking down the organic material in the wastewater), and these gases don’t smell good. Sinks therefore have loops of pipe called P-traps that hold water in the lower loop and block the gases from flowing back into the house. The gases flow up a vent pipe instead — if you look at the roof of any house, you will see one or more vent pipes poking through.

As new water enters the tank, it displaces the water that’s already there. This water flows out of the septic tank and into a drain field. A drain field is made of perforated pipes buried in trenches filled with gravel. The following diagram shows an overhead view of a house, septic tank, distribution box and drain field:

A typical drain field pipe is 4 inches (10 centimeters) in diameter and is buried in a trench that is 4 to 6 feet (about 1.5 m) deep and 2 feet (0.6 m) wide. The gravel fills the bottom 2 to 3 feet of the trench and dirt covers the gravel, like this:

The water is slowly absorbed and filtered by the ground in the drain field. The size of the drain field is determined by how well the ground absorbs water. In places where the ground is hard clay that absorbs water very slowly, the drain field has to be much bigger.

A septic system is normally powered by nothing but gravity. Water flows down from the house to the tank, and down from the tank to the drain field. It is a completely passive system.

You may have heard the expression, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” Actually, it’s the drain field, and the grass really is greener — it takes advantage of the moisture and nutrients in the drain field.

Why are manhole covers round? Because it avoids accidents. Since manhole covers are round, it is impossible for a cover to fall down the manhole. If they were square or rectangular, they could. In the ideal case, a sewer system is completely gravity-powered, like a septic system. Pipes from each house or building flow to a sewer main that runs, for example, down the middle of the street. The sewer main might be 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 m) in diameter. Periodically, a vertical pipe will run up from the main to the surface, where it is covered by a manhole cover. Manholes allow access to the main for maintenance purposes.

The sewer mains flow into progressively larger pipes until they reach the wastewater treatment plant. In order to help gravity do its job, the wastewater treatment plant is usually located in a low-lying area, and sewer mains will often follow creekbeds and streambeds (which flow naturally downhill) to the plant.

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