Learn How To Maintain Your Septic System Well Now And In The Future
If you want to extend your on-site's sewage system, save money on recurring maintenance costs, and also protect the quality of available water, then it's essential that you know how to properly care for and take care of your septic system. Doing so is critical in homes that have such a system.
An average home often has three occupants and two bathrooms, producing more than 85,000 annual gallons of wastewater. If you do the math, that's roughly 275 gallons every single day! Your septic tank is in many ways a living filter that gets solids and scum out of pretreated wastewater before it flows into a drain-field for a final purification.
That whole process takes a day or two, and even a great system that isn't cared for can turn into a health hazard for a whole neighborhood, much less an expensive problem for you. A failed system can cause water pollution both in the ground and on the surface, making property damage a costly reality. So, it's essential that you maintain your septic system. Keep reading to learn 16 basic steps how you can do just that:
1) Pump your system: Your tank should be inspected by either yourself or a technician annually, although some state and municipal regulations might require more frequent checks on the levels. If the bottom of your scum is within 3 inches of the outlet device bottom, then you need to have the tank pumped. Likewise, when the top of your sludge layer is within 1 foot of the outlet bottom, you also need to pump.
2) Call for professional assistance when you see signs of system failure: A slow-draining fixture is a plea for help, and so are gurgling sounds from your plumbing system. Septic tank or plumbing backups are also a warning sign. Keep an eye on your drain field area for odors, wet spots, lush vegetation growth, and surfacing sewage.
3) Do check your system annually: Typical septic tanks require pumping in three-to-five year intervals. Routine inspections might show it can happen less frequently, but regular pumping is necessary to make sure that solids don't flow from your tank into a drain field.
4) Watch what goes into the system: Never put certain things into it, such as chemicals, paints, fuels, motor oils, grease, and fats. Foods to avoid include egg shells, coffee grounds, and nut shells. Manufactured or paper products that might get flushed at times you should avoid include disposable diapers, filter-tip cigarettes, sanitary napkins, condoms, tampons, rags, and paper towels.
5) Cover your system with grass: Don't put impermeable materials on top of your drain field. Plastic, concrete, and asphalt all keep oxygen from penetrating the soil. The bacteria in your tank is what breaks down your sewage, and they can't survive or work without the oxygen.
6) Do pump if you can't remember the last one: If your memory or records can not indicate that last time you had your tank pumped, don't wait for something to happen. You might be working the system on borrowed time.
7) Avoid traffic over your drain field: Keep livestock, heavy equipment, and vehicles off your drain field. Any excess pressure might compact the soil or even do damage to system pipes. You'll also need to check with your local or regional health department before putting in a pool or a building near your septic system. Don't garden there either.
8) Keep poisons out of the system: As mentioned already, your septic tank is a place for bacteria to break down sewage. Don't flood them with strippers, coatings, polishes, waxes, paints, solvents, or household cleaners (including drain and toilet bowl cleaners), since they might kill the bacteria and even contaminate surface and ground water.
9) Do keep your records, and make them accurate: Two things you need are a thorough diagram of the location of the system and a robust record of all system maintenance for any future owners.
10) Don't install a garbage disposal: This would only add grease and solids to your system. If you do have one that gets used, your septic tank needs more frequent cleanings and inspections, more likely than not.
11) Don't dispose of hot tub or spa water into a system: It's too much volume of water to start with, and spa water often has a disinfectant that is lethal to those ever-important bacteria.
12) Do practice good water conservation techniques and habits: When you produce less wastewater, you'll put less strain on your system. Reducing your average daily water use means extending the life cycle of your designated drain field and lowers the odds of any future system failure.
13) Never go into your septic tank: There might be a lack of oxygen or even poisonous gases, both of which can be fatal. All work to a tank has to be done from the exterior of it, possibly by an industry professional.
14) Don't use septic tank additives regularly: They might have short-term advantages, but they can produce longer-term issues. Continual use doesn't reduce your needs for regular pumping.
15) Keep runoff away from the system: Roof runoff, driveway water, and patio runoff can easily overwhelm a drain field. The damage is often irreversible.
16) Do be open to professional help: No matter how good you get at maintaining your system, recognize situations where you're in over your head or simply don't have the time and tools to get the job done right. Call a certified septic technician for system issues.
These 16 do's and don'ts are the basics of maintaining your home's septic system.
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