One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how to properly maintain a system. Thankfully, septic system maintenance is not difficult. I have compiled some simple tips that can help you keep a well-designed and properly-sized septic system healthy for years to come.
Tip 1: Schedule regular inspections
Your septic system needs regular checkups. Your inspector will be able to assess the overall health of your system and determine any repairs that might need to be made or parts that need to be replaced before you experience major issues. How often depends upon your county’s requirements as well as the age and health of your system. Ideally, you should schedule an annual inspection.
Tip 2: Pump your septic tank
The solids that accumulate in your septic tank need to be pumped out and disposed of. If these solids are not removed, they will eventually accumulate in your drain field, clog the pores in your soil, and damage your drain field. As a bonus, the septic effluent can also pond on your drain field or even back up into your house (yuck!). Either way, when this happens, the damage to your system is likely irreversible. How often you pump depends upon the size of your tank, your use habits, and the number of people in your household, but typically you only need to pump every few years. When you get your inspection done, your inspector can give you better insight.
Tip 3: Be kind to your septic drain field
There are several key ways that you can protect your drain field, which is crucial for removing contaminants and impurities from the septic effluent (liquid that emerges from the septic tank).
- Cover your drain field with plants, avoiding trees and shrubs since their roots can clog and damage drain lines. Plant trees should as far away from the drain field as possible.
- Get rid of your garbage disposal. Raw undigested garbage will add to the solids in your septic tank and put a heavy burden on the biological demands of the tank. Instead, scrape plates into the waste bin or compost pile.
- Conserve water and check plumbing for leaks. In addition to being environmentally responsible, this will help you avoid putting an undue burden on your drain field’s capabilities.
- Divert storm water from your road or driveway (or gutters) away from the drain field.
- Avoid stockpiling materials on your drain field or disturbing the soil. And of course, never park vehicles on your drain field. Compacting or disturbing the soil on your drain field is a big no-no.
Tip 4: Banish the Septic System Dirty Dozen
Your septic system relies on a healthy colony of bacteria to process waste. Avoid the following chemicals to keep bacteria at healthy levels. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t want it on your skin, you should not flush it down the drain. (I won’t even talk about garbage such as diapers or feminine products since I KNOW you wouldn’t flush these down the toilet.) To learn more about the dirty dozen (and alternatives), read my full post.
Tip 5: Avoid septic system additives and cleaners
Save your money. If you minimize the septic system dirty dozen and stick to the tips listed above, you won’t need to use these expensive and unnecessary treatments. In fact, some of these additives can even damage your system or contaminate groundwater.
So that’s it – all you need to know to keep your septic system healthy and happy for the long haul. Got questions around septic system maintenance or need an inspection, please feel free to give me a call.