Maintenance of septic tanks is not just for individuals that live in the country or on farms. You may be surprised to find out how many people in the city also require maintenance of their septic tanks. Many people that reside in a rural area usually have septic tanks as opposed to sewer connections, but a septic system is common regardless of the area.
Caring for a septic system is not hard since even an upgraded system will operate efficiently when following a few basic rules:
There are a few regular things you can do to ensure your septic system and tank runs smoothly. Some of these include checking toilets and faucets for leaks and then making the necessary repairs. Checking your basement or crawling under your home to check for leaks. Use flow-reducer nozzles and aerators on your faucets to reduce your water consumption, and make sure you lower the water levels that you use for small laundry loads.
You could also benefit from investing in energy-efficient appliances. Only use your dishwasher once it is full or run the appliance on shorter cycles that consumes less water. Use a brick or displacer to lower the water required to flush your toilets. Even better, replace your toilets with modern low flows that also help to save water.
Garbage disposals can drastically increase the solids that are added to septic tanks. You may even want to think about getting rid of your garbage disposal. It doesn’t take a lot of effort or time to scrape your plates into plastic bags and then dispose of it in the trash. Or you can replace your garbage disposal with a modern unit that is capable of grinding waste into smaller particles, which makes it easier for the septic system to deal with this type of waste.
Avoid flushing tampons, sanitary napkins, disposable diapers, paper towels, cat litter, coffee grounds, filters, facial tissues, and cigarette butts down your toilets. These are items that will clog up a septic tank. At the same time, grease often clogs a septic drain-field, which means the soil cannot absorb liquids. If you are pouring excessive amounts of grease down your drains, you may end up needing a new drain-field which is costly.
Paint thinners, varnish, gasoline, motor oils, and any other similar chemical will cause harm to a septic system, and they are also hazardous to groundwater. Store any hazardous or toxic chemicals in the right containers and then throw them away according to the hazardous waste law in your jurisdiction.
Using Heavy-duty cleaners destroys beneficial bacteria present in septic tanks, which means solids won’t be breaking down as they should. Rather limit using them or avoid them altogether.
Avoid driving over your drain field, covering it with asphalt or concrete, erecting a structure over it, or allowing livestock to walk over it. You can plant grass over this area to lower the likelihood of soil erosion.
You can also protect your system by making sure trees are 100 feet away or more from the system to discourage damage caused by roots. Trees that have aggressive root systems like willows, need to be as far away as possible from your system.
A drain field that is waterlogged or soggy won’t neutralize or absorb liquid wastes either. Plan your foundation drains, roof gutters, and landscaping so that any excess water will flow away from the drain field.
The saying ” prevention is better than a cure” rings true when it comes to a septic system. It is important to regularly pump the system. Solids have to be pumped out of the tank at some stage. Experts recommend that families of 4 with a 1,000-gallon septic tank need to pump their tanks after 3 to 5 years of use. Yet other experts suggest that you can wait longer between each pumping operation.
When the scum on the bottom starts collecting within 3 inches of your outlet, or if the sludge on the top is within 12-inches, then it is time to pump. You should be checking on this every 6 to 12 months.
When your septic system starts to fail despite your efforts and diligent care you will know it. The signs are inescapable. Keep your nose and eyes on your drain field. This can include sewage that starts to bubble up. You will smell it. Yet not every system failure is immediately noticeable. If unwanted weeds or grass are suddenly growing very fast, this might be an indication that something has gone wrong.
You will also notice an issue when you start to experience a backup in your plumbing. It might not always be a logjam either. Gurgling sounds or when draining slows down are often a clue too. Maintain a record of every time you have the system serviced along with when you experienced a problem. These records are helpful when you have to hire a professional plumber for further assistance.
Never open your septic tank if this is not an area you are experienced in. It contains hazardous bacteria and gases.