Even though it is hidden out of sight, your septic tank is centrally important for the proper care and disposal of all wastewater produced in your home. While septic systems do not require a great deal of maintenance, a complete lack of attention can result in a sewage backflow and destruction of the current system, along with a potentially serious health risk to the home’s inhabitants. The following suggestions can guide homeowners in caring for their septic tank to maintain wastewater sanitation, storage and disposal.
Follow Correct Procedures for Waste Disposal
Just because an item fits inside the toilet or sink drain does not mean it should enter the septic system. Beware of disposing of items and substances that have the potential to clog the system. For instance, do not flush grease, paper towels, diapers, tissues or coffee grounds into the septic tank. If you are considering installing a garbage disposal in your home, first check that your septic tank has the capacity to handle the additional waste.
Another category of substances to keep away from your septic tank is chemical cleaners not normally used in household operations. While a regular amount of dishwashing and laundry detergent will not upset the system’s bacterial balance, paint thinners, gasoline, oil, antifreeze or an overdose of bleach or other cleaning agents can halt the bacterial digestion needed for the system to properly function.
Perform Regular Maintenance
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, septic tanks should be pumped every three to five years, or when the sludge at the bottom of the tank reaches one-third of the total liquid. If you are not aware of the last time your septic tank received service, schedule an inspection with a professional, licensed contractor right away. Do not attempt to inspect the tank’s contents on your own – the toxic gases inside have the potential to kill.
The inspection will involve locating the tank, digging up any buried covers or components, ensuring all drains are flowing into the tank and measuring the levels of scum and sludge. The licensed plumbing expert can also view the interior sides of the tank, making sure there are no cracks that could lead to a waste leak, and also verify parts are working in connected components such as a pump or distribution box. Make note of all results of the inspector’s findings and keep any diagrams and information on hand for easy reference. Schedule follow-up inspections and pumping dates according to professional recommendations, which are based on your average household wastewater emissions.
Stay Aware of Needs and Dangers
Once you know where your septic tank is located, stay away from the ground covering the system. Do not park machinery or plant trees above the tank, as ultra-compact soil and invading roots can cause damage to the pipes and tank. Focus on water conservation in your household, staying careful not to overload the septic system.
Invest in regular septic tank maintenance, have any needed minor repairs done and your wastewater disposal system can last 20 years or more without requiring replacement.