A septic system includes the tank itself. For most homes that are around three bedrooms, a septic tank is, on average 1000 gallons. The septic system also includes a drain field or soil absorption field. A septic tank is responsible for digesting organic material and separating things that are floatable from solids in wastewater. Then, the liquid leaves the septic tank through a series of pipes in a leach field, and it’s then slowly released into the soil.
There are other types of septic tanks, but that’s the basic way it works.
If you have a septic tank, or you may have one in the future, there are some things to know about maintaining it, detailed below.
For the average household with a septic system, it should be inspected at least every three years by a professional. A household tank will usually be pumped every three to five years, while alternative systems, such as those with mechanical components, need an annual inspection.
The factors that play a role in how often you should pump your septic system include the size of your household, how much wastewater you generate overall, the volume of solids in your wastewater, and the size of the septic tank.
When you contact a professional service provider who specializes in septic tanks, that person will inspect for leaks. They’ll also look at the sludge and scum layers in the tank.
The average household in a single-family living environment can use as much as 70 gallons of water per day per person. One running toilet or one leaky faucet can then add hundreds of gallons per day to that.
The water that your household puts down the pipes will end up in the septic system, so the more water you can conserve, the less water is going into your system.
If you can be efficient about water usage, it helps reduce the risk of issues with your septic system, and it improves its operation.
There are many ways that you can be more efficient about how you use water.
For example, don’t do all of your laundry in a day. Instead, spread out your washing because otherwise, you’re not giving your septic tank enough time to treat the waste, which can flood your drain field. You should also consider adding features like shower flow restrictors or high-efficiency showerheads to reduce how much water enters your septic system and replace your toilets with ones that are high-efficiency.
Your drain field is a part of a septic system that removes any contaminants from liquid that comes from your tank, and it’s a critical part of your system.
To keep it in good shape, never drive or park on it, and make sure that you’re planting trees far enough away.
You want to keep any sump pumps or rainwater drainage systems away from the area because excess water can slow down or altogether stop the process of treating wastewater.
You need to be careful about everything being poured down the drain. There are certain materials that aren’t going to decompose easily, and that can negatively affect the helpful bacteria in your septic tank and drain field that breaks down organic matter.
Grease, liquid waste like household chemicals, coffee grounds, and oils shouldn’t go down your drain.
If you have a garbage disposal, be aware that using it often can mean you might have to pump your septic tank more frequently. Food waste can accumulate and turn into sludge and scum.
Other things that you shouldn’t let go down the drain or the toilet include:
· Cooking oil
· Feminine hygiene products
· Dental floss
· Cat litter
· Paper towels
Finally, there are certain appliances and features of your home that can negatively affect your septic system or mean that it’s going to require more maintenance.
One that was briefly touched on above is your washing machine. If you’re doing a lot of laundry, you’re increasing the risk of your septic system failing, but if you use an Energy Star washing machine, it can use as much as 45% less water than one that’s not.
If you have a standalone septic system, it’s not recommended that you use a garbage disposal at all, and hot tubs can also affect your septic system. Hot tub water has to be cooled and then drained onto a landscaped part of your property, away from your septic tank and drain field.