If your home has a septic system, you’ll need to keep it performing optimally to maximize its overall lifecycle and to lessen the chance of unforeseen surprises along the way. Follow these top tips for septic system maintenance.
How Do Septic Systems Work?
When your home doesn’t have a connection to a sewer system, an underground septic system stores all of your household wastewater. A conventional septic system consists of:
• a watertight tank: ranging from 500 to 1,500 gallons , depending on the number of bathrooms in the home commonly made of fiberglass, concrete, or steel in older homes averaging 10 feet square
• a drain or leach field:
• dependent on soil characteristics; determined by the percolation rate, which measures how long it takes for water to drop one inch in a saturated hole dug into your soil
• commonly 1-3 feet wide and up to 100 feet long
Solids enter the septic tank and sink to the bottom forming a sludge that then produces bacteria which slowly digests the unpleasantries. Liquids float to the top and then seep out into the drain field to be naturally filtered within the soil. While a sewer is maintained by your local municipality, it’s your sole responsibility as a homeowner to maintain your septic system.
Regularly Inspect Your Septic System
Septic System Maintenance Precautions
By taking a few precautions as a homeowner, you could save yourself from a future septic system nightmare down the road:By taking a few precautions as a homeowner, you could save yourself from a future septic system nightmare down the road:
- Always dispose of hazardous household products properly and never dump them into your septic system
- Dissolve an individual package of baker’s yeast in hot water, then pour into one of your sink drains as this helps to encourage the growth of good bacterial culture to break down solids within the tank; the same can be accomplished by using a commercially available septic tank system treatment product such as Rid-X, while following manufacturer instructions as per the gallon size of your tank
- Don’t plant any type of landscaping or let any water accumulate near your septic field
- Don’t drive or park a vehicle anywhere near the system
- Ensure gutter spouts are directed away from your septic drainage field
- Never flush non-degradable items down your toilets
- Use liquid laundry and dishwasher detergent to lessen the likelihood of forming a clog
- Use green cleaners throughout your home as harmful chemicals like bleach and drain cleaners
can alter the microorganisms in the tank and drain field
Plumbing experts recommend that if you live in a home with a septic system, it’s best to forgo a garbage disposal unit as the added waste will require more frequent septic tank pumping, and could potentially corrode the drain field, which may lead to sewage backups.
Reduce Your Water Consumption
The EPA advises the average single-family American household uses close to 70 gallons of water per person, per day. Having a few household rules to follow for water consumption can go a long way towards your septic system maintenance routine and the overall health of the system:
•Ask everyone to turn off taps when brushing their teeth, washing their face, or when shaving
• Add faucet aerators to slow down water flow to reduce consumption
• Swap out your shower head for a low-flow version
• Encourage shorter shower times
• Replace older toilets with a low-flow or dual flush models
• Use an Energy Star approved dishwasher and a washer/dryer
When Does Your Septic System Need Pumping?
Warning Signs of Septic System Problems
Common Reasons Septic Systems Fail
Keep a Septic System Maintenance Record
Be sure to keep a copy of any reports provided by a contractor for future reference and/or any new homeowners. You can easily store this report and all of your household documents securely online with our free DomiDocs Homeowner Management platform, then you’ll never have to waste time looking for paperwork again! When it comes time to sell your home, you’ll have an up-to-date log of septic maintenance you can present to your real estate agent to show it’s in good working order.
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Author – Connie Motz