In Blog, Managing Your Park

Your tenants might not think about what happens with your mobile home park septic systems, but you should. Septic systems add a layer of complication to your park management. While they’re manageable, you need to understand how they’re different from other waste disposal systems.

If septic systems are working right, they don’t need a lot of maintenance. The only time you’ll have to deal with them is when they have a problem and usually, that’s because your tenants aren’t treating the system right. As an Oregon mobile home park owner, there are a few specific things you need to know about managing your septic system.

Oregon Mobile Home Park Septic Systems Management Basic Guidelines

Oregon mobile home park septic systems can get expensive. That’s the truth for all wastewater systems, too. Sewer connections, a large commercial septic system, or a bunch of small separate septic tanks—they each have a way of running up bills. Now ideally, I prefer to work with a park that has a bunch of separate little septic systems. That way, if one fails, it’s easier and less expensive to replace.

On average, your park is going to have to process about 750 gallons of wastewater per day. To manage this, here are a few of the steps to help manage wastewater in your Oregon mobile home park:

  • Plan to pump it: Depending on the size of your park, you’re probably going to have to pump the septic system every one to three years. Keep in mind the colder and dryer your climate, the more you’re going to have to pump. That’s because heat helps things break down faster. If your septic system’s up north in Portland, you’d probably have to pump it more often than one in Medford, or somewhere further south.
  • Complete regular inspections: Make sure to have your tank inspected on a yearly basis to check for leaks, and keep records of those checks. If there’s a major storm or other weather that might make your system fill up faster, check it after that as well. That way, if there’s a problem, you can pinpoint it quickly.
  • Keep your drain field clear: Your drain field is the area where the septic contents seep out over time, leaking out through the pipes and naturally becoming part of the groundwater again. Keep that area clear, with no traffic or properties on top of it, so the soil and pipe system can do its job without getting squashed.
  • Don’t flood the system: Manage the water use in your park so you can keep the tank from filling up too fast. That means not emptying things that have a high-water capacity in them, like a hot tub, in one fell swoop.

Generally, if you have a septic system, it’s because you’re in a rural area. Usually, systems closer to metro areas hook into city sewer systems. For that, you pay the city, usually a big chunk of change, and they manage your wastewater for you. When you have a septic system, you’re in charge of it. The best way to control its use and keep it working the way it should is to get your tenants on board. You can’t be there when they flush, nor do you want to. But you need to tell them what not to flush.   

Controlling Tenants’ Use to Maintain the System

If you’re managing a septic system in Oregon, you must keep it usable. But you’ll also need to depend on your tenants. Before they park their mobile home on your lot, you need to give them a specific handout that gives the acceptable use of that system. That should include what items they should be flushing or dumping down the drain. Make sure they never flush:

  • Items that don’t decompose: If it will still be around 100 years from now, you don’t want it in your tank. A few things to consider include cigarette butts, heavy duty paper towels, diapers, baby wipes, and coffee grounds.
  • Grease: Make it clear that tenants aren’t to dump cooking grease down their drains. That gums up the works and causes clogs in the pipes, leading to backups.
  • Corrosive chemicals: Things like motor oil, gas, or even abnormal amounts of household cleaners like bleach don’t break down, and in high enough amounts can cause water contamination in your mobile home park. Keep those out of your septic system.
  • Medications: Tenants with pills and other medications they don’t need shouldn’t flush them down the toilet under any circumstances. Let your residents know where they can safely dispose of unneeded medications in your area.

When you give the tenants the listing of unflushable products, give them an alternative as well. If there are disposal places for grease or corrosive chemicals, give them the address. The same goes for an address to get rid of unneeded medications. Getting the tenants on board with your septic’s requirements and completing the right maintenance is the key to managing your septic system.  

Keeping the Costs Down In Your Septic System

If you want to keep your costs down for managing your septic system, you need to do it through preventative maintenance. Also, if you need a septic system replaced, then you might want to consider going with several smaller systems, rather than one large overall one. In the end, that will save you the most if something bad happens.

Keep your septic system in mind when you’re setting your reserve, as it’s one of those unpredictable mobile home park operating expenses that can bankrupt you.  While you might consider about $125 to $150 per spot when setting a regular reserve, it’s better to go higher when you have a septic system. It costs a lot more to maintain and may eventually need to be replaced. So aim to get that reserve about 10% higher than you would for a park without a septic system.

Septic system problems can be a financial bear. If your heart’s no longer in the park’s business and you’re looking to unload a park with a septic system, I might be able to work with you. Give me a call or shoot me an email to get a quote on your park.

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