Proper septic tank maintenance is good for your home, your health, your finances, and the environment. Leaks and blockage in your septic tank system can contaminate your soil and your water sources, leading to costly cleanups and repairs. How can you keep your septic tank in tip-top shape? Be sure to consider the following tips.
- Take steps to protect the tank and the drain field. An important part of septic tank maintenance is protecting your tank from any potential physical damage. Never plant anything but grass near your septic system, as roots from plants, trees, and shrubs can damage the system. You will also want to avoid operating any kind of heavy machinery near the system and avoid building anything (such as a shed or playhouse) on top of the system.
- Minimize the amount of waste you put in your tank. Remember, what you put in your septic system has a huge impact on its ability to do its job. A septic system contains living organisms that are specifically designed to break down and treat waste. You don’t want to make their job harder than it has to be or put anything in your septic system that might inhibit their ability to break things down. You also want to keep in mind that the more solids that you put into your tank, the more often it will need to be pumped. In order to keep your tank in good working condition, avoid washing food scraps down the drain in the kitchen, as well as grease and cooking oils. Be especially wary of garbage disposals, which can increase the amount of solid material in a septic tank by a staggering 50 percent. In the bathroom, the only thing that should be flushed down the toilet is wastewater and toilet paper. Avoid flushing disposable diapers, plastics, paper towels, tampons, facial tissues, sanitary napkins, dental floss, etc.
- Be wary of flushing cleaning products. It is true that the majority of household cleaning products will not affect your septic tank’s operations. However, there are cleaning products you need to be wary of flushing, as they could negatively impact the living organisms in your tank, impeding their ability to break down waste. Drain cleaners, for example, can kill the organisms in your tank and disrupt operations, as can large amounts of bleach, disinfectants, and drain and toilet bowl cleaners. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to keep all kinds of hazardous materials and toxic cleaning products out of your septic tank.
- Don’t overload the system. Overloading your septic tank system with water will cause problems. An overload will often stir up solid waste in the tank and can push it into the drain field, which can cause a failure. Always repair any leaky faucets or toilets, and also be aware of how certain household appliances can affect your system. For example, emptying substantial quantities of water from your hot tub or whirlpool into your septic tank will often cause an overload.
- Pump put your septic tank regularly. Your septic tank will need to be pumped out at regular intervals, typically once every three to five years, depending on your usage patterns and the age of your tank. This pump-out should be done by a certified, experienced professional.