How to Care for Your Septic Tank
A working septic tank is vital to many residences, and there's nothing worse than when a septic tank has problems. The best way to deal with your septic tank is to prevent problems in the first place. Here are a few maintenance steps you need to take to care for your system:
Regularly Pump the Tank
Your septic tank isn't a bottomless pit. Over time, it can start to fill up, meaning you should have it pumped out on a regular basis. A general guideline is to have your tank emptied every three to five years, but this obviously varies depending on how often you use your toilets and how many people live in your home. For example, a single person might be able to go as long as 10 years without any pumping, but a big family might need their tank pumped every two years.
When you empty your tank, you prevent the chance of an overflow, as in waste that starts spilling out into your backyard. Over time, the pipes in your septic tank can become clogged from sludge, pushing more waste directly into the soil and making your yard a soggy mess.
Properly Dispose of Waste
Your septic system is designed to handle one thing - human waste. It isn't a multi-purpose garbage disposal that can store whatever trash you throw at it. Inside your septic system is a carefully balanced collection of living organisms that break down human waste. Throwing other things down the toilet or sink can kill these organisms, threatening the proper function of your tank.
In particular, avoid flushing or rinsing any of the following items:
- Coffee grounds
- Oil or grease
- Dental floss
- Flushable wipes
- Paper towels
- Household chemicals
- Cat litter
Keep Your Drainfield Clear
Your drainfield is the area in your yard where your septic tank releases liquid into the ground for decontamination. While it's safe to walk or play on, you should take a few other precautions to keep your drainfield clear.
- Never park your car on the drainfield or drive across it. The ground can get squishy, so you might get stuck.
- Avoid planting trees near your drainfield, as the roots can grow into the septic system and cause major problems.
- Remove any sump pumps, roof drains, or other drainage systems away from the area, as the excess moisture can hinder the decontamination process.
It's important to always keep a close eye on your septic tank for any developing issues. During the rainy season where you live, walk around your drainfield to see what the ground is like. If the grass appears particularly full and green, even though that may seem nice, you might have an abundance of waste in your yard, which could signify a clog.
You should also schedule a professional inspection of your system at least once a year. In this inspection, a technician can look over your pumps, filter screens, or mechanical parts to make sure everything is functioning correctly.