If your home has a septic system, every drop of water that goes down the drain goes through it. Yet oftentimes, once septic tanks are buried underground, homeowners forget about them. However, your septic system is a living, giant organism. It requires proper health checkups and the right diet in order to live a long and healthy life. As a result, learning how to keep your septic tank healthy, along with thinking about how you use water in your home, can save you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. With proper care and maintenance, your septic system can last for at least 20 to 30 years. Without it, you can find yourself in a costly, unhealthy mess! Below, the team of Sitework Developing offers important information and tips to help you keep your septic tank healthy.
How a Septic Tank Works
In order to understand how to care for your septic tank, it’s important to first understand how your septic system works. As its name implies, a septic tank works like a giant storage tank. But it’s more than that. The septic tank is a large, underground, watertight container that helps filter household wastewater before it flows out into the drain-field for final purification. The average home with two baths and three occupants will produce over 85,000 gallons of wastewater annually. This is 250 to 300 gallons per day! And all of that goes through the septic tank. In other words, all of the wastewater from your toilet, bath, kitchen, and laundry flows into the tank. Solids, as a result, find their way into your septic tank, too. Heavy solids settle to the bottom of the tank where bacteria reduce them to sludge and gasses. Lighter solids such as grease rise to the top and form a scum layer. A healthy septic system filters the water before it passes through, and helps decompose solids in an environmentally safe way.
The Three Golden Rules to a Healthy Septic Tank
Keeping your septic system flowing smoothly starts with a healthy tank. At Sitework Developing, we believe the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why we encourage those with septic systems to follow three basic rules:
- Keep Chemicals and Garbage Out.
- Reduce Water Waste.
- Pump and Inspect Your Tank Regularly
These three rules can save you thousands in the long run. Below, we give you tips on how to follow each rule.
1. Keep Chemicals and Garbage out.
What you put into your septic system greatly affects its ability to do its job. Remember, your septic system contains living organisms that digest and treat waste. While wastewater flows out of the septic tank into the drain-field for final purification, solids that do not decompose are a different story. These solids remain in the tank. If the solids are not removed by periodic pumping (every 3-5 years), they will accumulate and eventually overflow into the drain field. This overflow can cause extensive damage. Indeed, failed septic systems may cause ground and surface water pollution, along with property damage. Thus, routinely pumping the septic tank prevents solids from disrupting the tank’s ability to do its job. Chemicals can actually affect your system immediately. To much of a dose of heavy cleaners or even just a few loads of bleached laundry can kill off the bacteria working in your septic tank to help break things down,
When In Doubt, Leave it Out!
As a general rule of thumb, do not dispose of anything in your septic system that can just as easily be put in the trash. Your system is not designed to be a garbage can and solids build up in the septic tank that will eventually need to be pumped. The more solids that go into the tank, the more frequently the tank will need to be pumped! More solids also mean more risk for tank failure, too! Here are simple tips to reduce harmful solids from entering your septic tank.
- Avoid washing food scraps, coffee grinds, and other food items down the drain.
- Never rinse grease or cooking oils down the drain.
- Only flush toilet paper and wastewater down the toilet!
- Don NOT flush paper towels and facial tissues as toilet paper! These common toilet paper substitutes do no decompose in the same way as toilet paper, so they need to be put in the trash.
- Finally, never flush any of these common septic tank trouble makers: tampons, sanitary napkins, cigarette butts, dental floss, kitty litter, condoms, or disposable diapers. None of these items can decompose in your septic tank and can contribute to septic system failure.
2. Reduce Water Waste
The more water you filter through your septic system the more it has to work. Also, since it takes 24-48 hours for the septic tank to process a day’s worth of wastewater, adding too much too fast can cause overload problems. Luckily, a few good habits go a long way in reducing water waste in your home.
- Don’t leave the sink running. Many folks leave the faucet running while they brush their teeth, shave, wash their hands, or hand-wash dishes. Each activity alone wastes gallons of clean water! Instead, turn the sink off until you’re ready to rinse at the end of each of these daily activities.
- Install a low-flow showerhead. Regular showerheads flow at 5 gallons per minute! A low-flow head, in contrast, flows at 2 to 2.5 gallons per minute! You can make an even greater impact by shortening your shower by a few minutes, too!
- Identify and repair faucet leaks. That little drip of the faucet can add up to 5 gallons of water a day or 2,082 gallons per year!
- Fill the dishwasher before running. This one is self-explanatory. No matter how many or few dishes you load, the amount of water used will be the same. Avoid running small loads and wasting water.
- Don’t save all your dirty laundry for one day. Laundry machines use a lot of water! If you wash many loads the same day, you could overload your tank with wastewater. Instead, spread loads out throughout the week. And just like with the dishwasher, avoid running half-full loads.
3. Pump and Inspect Your Septic System Regularly
Even the most pro-active homeowner isn’t perfect. Unexpected items do find their way down drains. In addition, everyone’s septic tank requires pumping solids out from time to time, even with perfect prevention. At Sitework Developing, we recommend you have your septic tank and system inspected yearly for residential use. For commercial septic systems, depending on your facility’s size and uses, a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or yearly inspection routine may suit your needs. We’re happy to consult with you to determine the best inspection calendar to prevent costly repairs.
Sitework Developing Inspects, Repairs, Installs, and Replaces Both Commercial and Residential Septic Systems
After reading this article and are you unsure if your septic tank is in good condition? We can help! Sitework Developing, Inc. prides itself on being the largest and most respected company of its type in the area. We have an arsenal of diagnostic methods to determine the condition of your septic system tank. For both your residential and commercial septic system needs, give us a call! We can help you keep your septic tank healthy or repair it when you need help. Give us a call at (440) 543-7551 or fill out our Contact Form to request a free consultation.