If you live in a rural area or have a vacation home in the middle of nowhere, you might already be using a septic system. Septic systems are common in places where there’s no access to a municipal sewer system. This means that a septic system is the home’s very own sewage treatment facility. It can be a simple and effective way to get rid of the sewage that would otherwise overflow into the environment and cause pollution.
However, the septic tank and system is susceptible to certain problems if not properly maintained. This is why, if you use a septic system, it is important to know how it works and what maintenance practices you should be doing to prevent leaks and clogs.
While septic system maintenance might seem like a daunting task, don’t fret, because it’s actually not complicated. To help you, we’ve come up with some tips to help you maintain your septic system.
1. Understand How Your System Works
It goes without saying that to maintain your septic system properly, you need to know how it works, what type of system it is, and where it’s located. Since it is required by state law to have a permit for septic system installation, both the permit and a map of the tank should be available in your county or town.
There are two main components to a septic system: a septic tank and a leach field. These two parts are connected through a series of pipes that run into the tank and out to the leach field.
One other way to confirm where your septic tank is located is to check where the sewer pipe in your basement leads.
2. Have Your Tank Pumped Regularly
If you want to avoid costly repairs and replacements, you need to have your septic tank pumped regularly. How often you need to have your tank pumped depends on the size of your tank, the amount of water it holds, and how often you use it.
Typically, septic tanks need to be pumped every three to five years, but the best way to determine how often you should have your tank pumped is to contact a local septic tank pumping service provider. In addition to inspecting for leaks and sludge layers in your septic tank, a septic service provider can also perform repairs if needed. Be sure to keep ALL maintenance records for your septic system because you may need them if you run into problems in the future.
3. Monitor Water Usage
Since your septic tank collects, stores, and treats sewage from your home, you need to make sure that the amount of water you use is not higher than your tank can manage. Remember, septic systems need time to treat wastewater; otherwise, they could overload and flood your leach field. Overflowing septic systems are dangerous, so diverting roof water from the leach field will be a good idea as well. You can also help avoid overflow by installing water-saving appliances, spacing out laundry loads, and repairing leaks as soon as possible.
4. Watch What You Flush Down The Toilet
Keep anything other than toilet paper out of the toilet in order to avoid breaking your system. Septic tanks can break down most kinds of toilet paper without any issues, but other items, such as feminine products, diapers and the like, not so much.
Some expensive toilet paper brands with lotions and extra layers can also clog your septic system or add unnecessary chemicals that can kill the good bacteria your system uses to break down solids. That’s why we suggest that you opt for toilet paper that is particularly septic safe.
5. Avoid Using Bleach and Drain Cleaners
Whether for the kitchen sink or shower, various household cleaning products can harm the beneficial bacteria in a septic system. This bacteria is needed to convert solid waste into liquid wastewater, so reducing their numbers with harmful chemicals will only make your septic system have to work harder.
Bleach is among the biggest culprits. Avoid using bleach on clothes when washing, or drain cleaners to fix a clog. If you must use them, try to use very little. Or, you can opt for septic-friendly drain cleaners, many of which are available in the market.
6. Keep Your Leach field Protected
Leach fields, also called drainfields, are crucial to a properly functioning septic system. Their job is to treat and remove wastewater coming from the septic tank. They consist of perforated pipes that are connected to the tank and are buried a few feet underground. A septic tank without a leach field would overflow, creating runoff and an unpleasant smell in your yard.
Because of the role they play in your septic system, they need protection. As such, avoid parking vehicles over your leach field as to not damage it, and make sure your gutters lead drain water away from it. We also recommended that you avoid planting trees in your leach field as their roots can grow and damage or clog the pipes.
7. Be Sure To Get Periodic Maintenance
If you want to ensure that your septic system continues to work efficiently, it’s important to get it checked regularly. While septic tank pumping is required every three to five years, periodic inspections will help you catch potential problems before they become major issues.
Having your septic tank inspected will also help you determine if your leach field needs to be repaired or replaced.
In addition to routine inspections, your septic tank should also be inspected when you notice a change in your septic system’s performance. For example, if you notice that your septic tank is leaking, or if your system is overflowing, you should contact a professional septic tank pumping service provider right away.
The above tips should help you maintain your septic system and keep it working properly for many years to come.
But, if you still have questions about how to keep your septic system working, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are happy to help!