Understanding Your Septic System
The greatest fear of septic tank owners is the day they wake up, look outside, and realize (through an offensive odor, a cesspool overtaking their yard, or both) that they are the unfortunate victims of a dreaded septic system malfunction. And whereas this can be your worst nightmare, many times it can be avoided. So how can the average homeowner head off septic issues before they occur?
Regular, scheduled, preventative septic system maintenance is the best method to keep a septic system up and running efficiently. How often should you have your tank pumped out? Depending on how much use it gets and exactly what ends up in there, a septic tank should be pumped out every 2-3 years. Every tank is a little bit different, because no two owners/users are the same.
Avoid putting the wrong kinds of chemicals down your drains. One might find it hard to fathom, considering the disgusting concoction typically found in a septic tank, but their successful operation can be a very sensitive matter. The perfect level/balance of bacteria is the key to keeping them running optimally. If you are going to put ‘helpful’ additives down your drains, check with a professional to make sure it’s the right additive for your system.
Know what practices to avoid. Taking care in the use of drains/toilets, and what goes down them, can make or break a septic system – literally.
- Avoid overuse of garbage disposals. Vegetables, grease, bones, pasta, and fruit can wreak havoc on septic systems.
- The fewer paper products that find their way down your drains – the better.
- Don’t do 6 loads of laundry in a day! Spread loads of laundry throughout the week as much as possible.
- Harsh chemicals aren’t good for you or the environment, neither are they good for a septic system.
For tried and true do-it-yourselfers, a vast knowledge of your septic system from top to bottom and end to end is going to be necessary. Keep an eye out for simple solutions to problems (leaks from indoor plumbing sources) and have an intricate understanding of the specific type of system and its layout (obtain a diagram of your entire septic system).
And above all else, have a dependable service company for septic system problems and maintenance on your list of emergency numbers and contractors. Knowing ahead of time that you have a reliable service at the ready can help a septic tank owner sleep just a little easier at night.
An awareness of the ins and outs of septic tanks, their care, and proper usage will serve not just to keep you ahead of the game, but will likely help to avoid costly repairs or emergency services in the future.