Out of sight, out of mind. Pumping your septic tank is one of the easiest home maintenance tasks to forget about – the tanks are buried, and the access port is usually covered in dirt and hard to access. However, this important maintenance task will help you avoid smelly and expensive septic tank or drain field repairs. If they are regularly pumped, septic tanks can last decades and provide reliable sewage treatment.
Here are some tips on how to best maintain your septic tank and septic system:
Clearly mark where your septic tank lids are located. This will save you the additional cost of having the septic company locate the tank and lids.
Install risers if your tank is not within 6 inches of the surface (current code requirements). Bringing your tank lids to the surface saves the additional rates to uncover the lids to your tank.
Eliminate the use of your garbage disposal. Septic systems are designed to breakdown digested waste efficiently but are not efficient at breaking down undigested matter.
Properly dispose of coffee grounds & food. These items should be placed in your trash can and should never be disposed of in the sink or garbage disposal.
Put grease in a container to harden before discarding in the trash. Over time, grease that has been disposed of in the sink can accumulate and create a blockage in your system. This could lead to a backup of sewage into your home. Yuck!
Only flush the 3 Ps. Pee, Poo, and (toilet) Paper are the only items that should ever be flushed. All other items should be disposed of in the trash can.
Only plant grass near your tank and drain field. Grassroots are not as invasive as other plants. Therefore, they are the only type of plants that we recommend to be around your septic tank and drain field.
Stagger the use of water-generating appliances. This can be helpful especially if your system has not been pumped in a long time. Using the shower, washing machine and dishwasher should be spread throughout the day. We recommend spreading laundry loads throughout the week. This will prevent the system from being overloaded with water.
Become more water-efficient by fixing plumbing leaks and consider installing bathroom and kitchen faucet aerators and water-efficient products.
Don’t- Flush non-degradable products or chemicals, such as feminine hygiene products, condoms, dental floss, diapers, cigarette butts, cat litter, paper towels, pharmaceuticals.
Don’t- Flush or dispose of wipes in your toilet. Even if the wipes are promoted as “septic safe,” they are not safe to flush. They can build a blanket in your tank spreading across both compartments, or even worse, clog your drain field.
Don’t- Dispose of items in your garbage disposal or sink. Do not pour cooking grease or oil down the sink or toilet, rinse coffee grounds into the sink, or pour household chemicals down the sink or flush them.
Don’t- Park or drive on your septic tank or drainfield. The weight can damage the tank or the drain lines.
Don’t- Plant trees or shrubs too close to your drainfield, roots can grow into your system and clog it.
Don’t- Concentrate your water use by using your dishwasher, shower, washing machine, and toilet at the same time. All that extra water can really strain your septic system.
Don’t – Put additives in your septic tank. Additives are unnecessary to the proper operation of household systems and may cause the sludge and scum in the septic tank to be discharged into the leach field, resulting in premature failure. Some additives may actually pollute your groundwater. You do not need to put special additives into your septic system. Those who advertise that they will remove solids from your tank usually do. The solids exit the tank and end up in the disposal field. Once there, the solids seal off the disposal area, and the system malfunctions. Also, although it hurts nothing, it is not necessary to “seed” a new system with yeast, etc. Normal human waste contains enough bacteria for the septic tank, and other microbes are already present in the soil and stones of the disposal area.