Maintaining Your Septic System
Septic systems are very common for those who live in rural areas where access to municipal sewer systems is impossible or uneconomical. These systems are like personal sewage treatment facilities. A delicate biological balance of bacteria keeps the system going. Though they work night and day, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about it until there’s a problem. It’s important to maintain your septic system regularly and to know the right way to use it. A failing septic system can contaminate groundwater, stink up your yard, and cost you lots of money. Here are some tips to keep in mind to keep your system running smoothly:
–Have your septic tank pumped out. This might be needed every few years or even annually, depending on the size of the tank and the amount of usage it gets. You’ll need a professional to help you with this, and they can do a thorough inspection while they are there. This involves not just seeing how full the tank is, but checking all of the parts of the system for cracks or other damage.
–Keep the drain field in mind. Make sure not to plant any trees or bushes near the drain field or the septic tank itself. The roots can cause major damage. Don’t build anything on top of the system or let anyone drive any heavy machinery over it in order to keep the cover and the pipes in good shape.
–Your septic tank is not a garbage disposal. As is always a general rule in plumbing, don’t flush or wash down anything that can’t just as easily go in the trash can. Anything you put down the drain will go into the septic tank, and it will have to be pumped out more often if you aren’t conservative with it. Grease, cooking oils, food scraps, and hygiene products do not belong in your septic tank.
–Maintain the bacteria. The bacteria in your septic system is vital to its operation. There are many additives on the market that claim to boost or fix the bacteria, but most professionals agree that it’s best not to use them. Some of them may simply be useless and therefore a waste of money, while others could actually upset the bacterial balance. Make sure not to use your septic to dispose of any hazardous chemicals, as these could have the same effect. Most household cleaners are safe to use, but be sure not to overdo it.
–Hot Tubs, Water Softeners, and Garbage Disposals: While many modern appliances strive for water conservation, there are others that could create a problem for your septic system. Both hot tubs and water softeners release great amounts of water into the system at one time. This can stir the sludge in the bottom of the tank and wash it out into the drain field, or even cause the system to fail. Using a garbage disposal will contribute to the solids in the tank and demand extra maintenance.
Overall, a septic system is a wonderful device to have when sewer access is not available. It can last 25 to 30 years if properly managed and operated, and will rarely cause problems with just a little bit of regular maintenance and thoughtfulness. If you have any questions or concerns about your plumbing, be sure to call A&W!