Tips For Keeping Your Septic Tank In Optimal Working Condition

cottage with septic system - tips for keeping septic tank in optimal working order

Over 21 million households in the U.S. use septic systems – especially households located in rural areas. Regardless of where you live, if you have a septic tank, then without a doubt, you are benefiting the environment in many ways, since home septic tanks rely on completely natural processes – in other words, they do not rely on potentially toxic chemicals like commercial waste treatment plans do.

Septic tanks, when working efficiently, divide wastewater into three layers – the top layer (comprising oils), the middle layer (waste water and particles) and the bottom layers (which form a sludge-like layer). It is important to regularly clean your tank, since failing to do so can cause a build-up of toxins and other substances that can kill the essential bacteria that break up waste.

How Often Should You Have Your Septic Tank Cleaned?

In general, small tanks should be cleaned around once a year. Scheduling a yearly appointment is a good way to avoid solid waste overflowing. Septic tank failure smells bad, and it can potentially cause waterborne diseases.

Erring on the safe side and following the advice of a professional maintenance company is key for three main reasons. Firstly, you should never open a septic tank yourself: your tank could contain hidden hazards and flammable gases such as methane, which could cause devastating explosions.

Secondly, maintenance teams will also have a septic tank inspection camera, which will reveal components requiring repair or replacement. These cameras are able to inspect septic lines to check for damage, crushing or clogging. They enable professionals to work from afar, determining the best solutions to keep your tank safe and its surroundings disease-free.

Finally, trusted professionals will be able to advise you on how often you need to pump the septic tank (this will depend on how close the sludge layer is to the scum layer).

Covering Your Septic Tank

close up of green lawn - tips to keep your septic tank in optimal working condition

Securing your septic tank’s riser is vital in order to avoid accidents (such as children or pets falling into the tank) but it will also stop debris, leaves and other items from falling into the tank and affecting its integrity. One fool-proof way to guarantee safety is to have a catcher device installed. Once again, this should be left to professionals to ensure no mishaps occur.

Keep pets and kids far from your tank, since pets that dig, for instance, can easily access your drainfield, affecting the soil and disrupting your tank’s ability to process waste efficiently. Even something as simple as pet hair can clog up your system, causing backups that can leak out onto your yard and harm the health of children and pets. 

Use Water Wisely

Your septic tank should be just one part of an eco-friendly strategy that also involves saving precious resources like water. An excessive use of water is one common reason that septic tanks fail. You might decide to commit, alongside the rest of your family, to taking shorter showers, using a composting toilet, and selecting plants for your garden that require little watering.

You should also direct water from roof drains and your land or garden away from the drainfield, as too much water, once again, can prevent your system from working properly. Proper landscaping and the creation of waterways and canals can help you direct rainfall and other sources of water to where you want them to go. 

Choosing Septic-Safe, Chemical Free Products

Harsh cleaning products and skincare products can destroy the balance in your septic system, and should be avoided. When shopping for everything from dog shampoos to bath gels for the family, choose products that are as natural as possible. If you must use chemicals (for instance, shampoo for lice or ticks and fleas), an outdoor shower far away from your septic system may be your best bet.

Septic tanks are a magnificent way to save the planet’s resources, but they do require regular maintenance. Smaller tanks should be seen to roughly once a year, while larger ones can sometimes go three or more years until the next cleaning. Consult trusted professionals who have the experience and equipment required to keep your system in tip-top condition, and do your best to save water in your daily tasks, and by redirecting water away from your septic tank.

Feature image: John Coley; Image 1: C Technical

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