Caring for Your Septic Tank

Plumber fort myers

If you’ve ever had to call in a leak detection services company for your septic system problems, you know the expense and the hassle involved. It probably left you wishing you’d taken better care of the system to begin with, but knowing how to do so might seem like a mystery. If you’ve read about the difference between septic and sewer systems and related maintenance, you probably know the warnings say not to attempt opening a septic tank for exposure to the bacteria and built-up gases can be hazardous. While there’s truth to that, educating yourself about the system and how it works will help you avoid having to use leak detection services down the line.
Understand How a Septic Tank Works
Basically, your septic tank is constantly working to break down the elements of that which goes in it: household waste. Solid waste settles to the bottom while scum floats to the top. The excess liquid floating between the two gets partially drained, while portions of the solid waste need to be periodically pumped out as they become increasingly broken down by bacteria.
Water Conservation
The septic tank is an ecosystem, and like any other ecosystem, it can only handle so much at once. Too much water at one time overloads the tank, leaving no time for the separation of liquids and solids to properly transpire. To help avoid this and resulting problems:

  • go through the house and find leaky faucets and toilets that don’t shut off
  • choose the correct setting for load size when doing your wash
  • spread out use of laundry machines, dishwashers, and showers
  • consider using efficiency toilets
    Protect Your Investment
    Know where the tank is, and be mindful of putting anything on top of it. Things like parked cars, RVs, sheds, above ground pools — items that carry any sort of weight — can compress the drain pipes running off the tank and can alter the shape of the tank itself, leading to maintenance issues. Also, skip installing a garbage disposal. While disposals are attractive for many reasons, if you’re running your household waste off a septic tank, it’s best to avoid using one. The influx of solid wastes to the tank can result in clogged drain fields, which will keep the tank from draining properly. If you’re already using a disposal with your septic tank, try using it more sparingly and increase the number of times your tank gets pumped. Additionally, avoid pouring chemicals down your drains and/or flushing items that are non-biodegradable, including:

  • cigarette butts
  • feminine hygiene products
  • Kleenex, paper towels
  • bleach
  • floss
  • paint
  • diapers
  • grease, fat
  • cat litter
  • coffee grounds
  • condoms
  • standard household cleansers
    Other Means of Protection
    Try and use what are considered septic-safe products whenever possible: toilet papers, wipes/wet-ones, and environmentally friendly soaps. Use products that promote useful bacteria, like RID. Maintain the area around the tank by clearing roots and keeping an eye on nearby trees.
    Cleaning Schedule
    Having your septic tank pumped runs a few hundred dollars; more if the servicemen are forced to dig. While pumping is only necessary every few years (depending on size of tank and the size of family), do it annually if you’re using a disposal and have four or five people in your home. Also, try and minimize the amount of used wash water that gets into the tank and consider using a lint filter to keep out excess lint.
    Learn about the different types of septic systems available and choose one that you can make the commitment to maintain, so you won’t have to call leak detection services down the line.
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