Did you know that a properly designed and installed septic tank system can be the safest, most economical way to treat your wastewater as long as it is properly maintained? But when was the last time you gave your septic system any thought? Many homeowners will go years without thinking about their septic systems until their system fails and the homeowner is confronted with tremendous costs to rebuild.
Why maintain your system?
- To avoid the sticker shock that will result from a failed system that can cost up to thousands of dollars, which can be avoided through periodic inspection and pumping.
- To maintain the health of your family, your animals, your community and the environment. Untreated sewage water contains many disease causing bacteria and viruses as well as unhealthy amounts of nitrate and other chemicals. Failed septic systems can allow untreated sewage to contaminate your wells, the groundwater, and surface water bodies.
- Finally, failed septic tanks are one of the leading causes of closure to our fishing banks, swimming areas, and recreational areas. This is money our local economy is losing and why agencies in the state and federal governments want to help defer the cost of getting your septic tank pumped periodically.
How often do I need to pump my system?
- Conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated and disposed of by your system. Doing laundry over several days will put less stress on your system.
- Repair any leaking faucets or toilets. To detect toilet leaks, add several drops of food dye to the toilet tank and see if dye ends up in the bowl.
- Divert down spouts and other surface water away from your drain field. Excessive water keeps the soil from adequately cleansing the wastewater.
- Install an effluent filter in your tank the next time it is pumped.
- Have your septic tank inspected yearly and pumped regularly by a licesnsed septic tank contractor.
- Keep your septic tank cover accessible for inspections and pumpings by installing watertight risers to ground level with secure lids
- Call your county health department or a licensed septic tank contractor whenever you experience problems with your system, or there are any sighns of system failure.
- Don’t drive over your drain field or compact the soil in any way.
- Don’t dig in your drain field or build anything over it, and don’t cover it with a hard surface such as concrete or asphalt and don’t install underground utilities or sprinkler systems nearby.
- Don’t plant anything over or near the drain field except grass. Roots from nearby trees and shrubs may clog and damage the drain lines.
- Don’t install a swimming pool near your system.
- Don’t use a garbage disposal, or at least limit its usage. Disposals increase solids in your tank by about 50%, so you have to pump your tank more often than normally suggested.
- Don’t use your toilet as a trash can or poison your system and the groundwater by pouring harmful chemicals and cleansers down the drain. Harsh chemicals can kill the bacteria that help purify your wastewater.
- Don’t put in a separate pipe to carry wash waters to a side ditch or the woods. This gray water contains germs that can spread disease.
- Don’t wast money on septic tank additives. The bacteria needed to treat wastewater are naturally present in sewage. Additives can re-suspend solids causing your drain field to clog. Additives do not eliminate the need for routine pumping of your tank.
- Don’t allow backwash from home water softeners to enter the septic tank system.
- Never enter a septic tank. Toxic gases from the tank can kill. If your system develops problems, get advice from your county health department or a licensed septic tank contractor.