Proper septic system maintenance can be simple and inexpensive when you follow the tips provided below. There are four primary components which make up septic system maintenance: (1) routine inspection and pumping, (2) wise water usage, (3) proper waste disposal, and (4) septic drainfield upkeep.
1. Routine Inspection & Pumping
A septic service expert should evaluate the typical household septic system at least once every three years. Every three to five years, household septic tanks should be routinely pumped. Note that alternative systems which contain electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical parts usually require more frequent inspections, so scheduling a check-up once a year is wise. Due to the mechanical components of alternative systems, a service contract with a septic provider is highly recommended, so they can put you on a repeating visit schedule without you having to always remember to proactively contact them before it is too late.
The volume of solids in wastewater, the size of the septic tank, the size of the household, and the overall amount of wastewater created are the main factors in determining how frequently you will need to pump your septic system.
When you contact a septic service provider, they will check your septic tank for leaks and look at the scum and sludge layers. Reputable septic service providers will also keep a written record for you of every septic system maintenance work that is done.
Sludge and scum are not supposed to exit your septic tank and enter the drainfield region, thanks to a T-shaped outlet in the tank. The following are signs that indicate your septic tank needs to be pumped:
- the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet,
- the bottom of the scum layer is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet, or
- scum and sludge make up more than 25% of the liquid depth.
If you have a septic service provider regularly check on your septic system, keep note of the sludge and scum levels determined by the septic expert in order to help you determine when your tank needs its next pumping.
In the service report for your system, the technician should mention the status of the tank and any repairs that have been finished. Hire a septic repairman as soon as possible if additional repairs are suggested. It’s best not to procrastinate with crucial repairs when it comes to your septic system.
2. Wise Water Usage
A typical single-family home may have an average indoor water demand of up to 70 gallons per person, each day. A single running or leaking toilet alone can use up to 200 gallons of water every day, drastically increasing the amount of water entering your septic system.
Each household’s septic system receives all the water that is sent down its pipes. When a homeowner consciously conserves water, a lower volume of water will enter the septic system each day. Utilizing water wisely enhances septic system performance and lowers the likelihood of problems.
Conserving water can be done in a number of easy ways:
Efficient showerheads: Shower flow restrictors, high-efficiency showerheads, and faucet aerators can all help you use less water while taking a shower, which results then in less water entering your septic system.
Efficient toilets: 25 to 30 percent of household water use is due to toilet use. While contemporary, high-efficiency toilets consume 1.6 gallons of water or less with every flush, many older homes have toilets that feature 3.5- to 5-gallon reservoirs. Reducing the quantity of household water entering your septic system is simple and can be accomplished by replacing outdated toilets with high-efficiency, newer versions.
Efficient washing machines: Water and energy are wasted when small loads of laundry are washed on the large-load cycle of your washing machine. You may save water by choosing the right load size for each time you do laundry. If you are unable to choose a load size in your washing machine, then try to only run complete loads of laundry instead of partial loads which frequently waste water. Try to do laundry throughout the week instead of doing all of your laundry in one day. Even though doing all of your laundry in one day might seem time-saving, the excess amount of water going into your drainfield all within a single day might be bad for your septic system. It could cause your drainfield to flood, and it won’t give your septic tank adequate time to process waste.
3. Proper Waste Disposal
Everything that goes down your drain eventually ends up in your septic system, regardless of whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the trash disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower, or bathtub. The efficiency of your septic system depends on what you flush down the drain.
Toilets are not trash cans, and a trash can is not a septic system. The simple rule of thumb is to only flush toilet paper and human waste down the toilet. Never flush any of the following: cooking oil or grease, photographic solutions, diapers, feminine hygiene items, condoms, cat litter, dental floss, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, paper towels, household chemicals (including antifreeze, gasoline, oil, pesticides, and paint/paint thinners), or non-flushable wipes (such as baby wipes or other wet wipes).
A variety of biological organisms that digest and handle household waste are found in your septic system. Toxins can kill these organisms and damage your septic system when they are poured down your drain. Whether you’re in the bathtub, kitchen sink, or utility sink, try not to pour down the drain anything which might hurt the biological ecosystem hard at work on “digesting” the solids within your septic system.
For a clogged drain, this means it is best to stay away from chemical drain openers. Use a drain snake or boiling water as an alternative. Never pour grease or cooking oil down the drain. Never dump solvents, solvent-based paints, or copious amounts of harmful cleansers down the drain. Waste from latex paint poured down the drain should be kept to a minimum. Consider limiting or completely stopping any usage of a waste disposal. As a result, the amount of fats, grease, and sediments entering your septic tank and clogging your drainfield will be greatly reduced.
4. Septic Drainfield Upkeep
An essential element of your septic system is the drainfield, which separates impurities from the wastewater that exits your septic tank. The drainfield acts essentially as a filter, outputting strained water back into the natural environment. To keep your septic drainfield working in maximum condition, here are a few recommendations. You should never drive or park motor vehicles on your drainfield. To prevent tree roots from entering your septic system, plant trees at the proper distance from your drainfield. Depending on your septic tank and terrain, a septic service professional can advise you on the appropriate distance for planting any large vegetation. Keep sump pumps, roof drains, and other rainwater drainage systems away from the area that serves as your drainfield. The wastewater treatment process can be slowed down or stopped by excessive water coming down from the surface.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be cautious about what I put down the drain?
Many substances that could be dumped down the drain are difficult to break down within your septic system. The beneficial bacteria that develops in your septic tank and drainfield to aid in the breakdown of organic debris may be harmed by certain substances which you pour down the drain. Pouring grease, liquid wastes (such as pesticides, paint thinners, drain cleaners, paints, and other home chemicals), oils, or coffee grounds down the drain is not recommended. If you have a garbage disposal, use it sparingly, because food waste might fill your septic tank with extra solids (which will then result in more frequent septic pumpings being required). When harmful substances are flushed down the drain, they can potentially affect the ecosystem and ultimately even negatively impact drinking water supplies when those harmful substances make their way into the groundwater.
What effects might using a kitchen sink garbage disposal have on my septic system?
How frequently you need to pump your septic tank depends on whether you use in-sink waste disposal equipment. The good bacteria in your septic tank typically slowly decomposes food waste, which can lead to scum and sludge buildup. Large amounts of water entering the septic tank or the tank becoming overflowed with solids can force the larger particles into the drainfield, clogging the pipes and thickening the biomat (a bacteria layer that forms on the bottom and sides of the drainfield trenches). Your tank will require more regular pumping if an in-sink waste disposal is heavily used.
What can I safely put in the toilet to flush down the drain?
It’s wisest to only flush toilet paper and human waste down the toilet. Cooking grease or oil, diapers, cigarette butts, cat litter, pharmaceuticals, non-flushable wipes (such as baby wipes/other wet wipes), paper towels, photographic solutions, condoms, feminine hygiene items, dental floss, coffee grounds, and household chemicals (including gasoline, antifreeze, oil, pesticides, and paint/paint thinners) are all things you should never flush down the toilet. This is because they could clog your septic system, harm the good bacteria hard at work in your septic system, and ultimately lead to a septic system failure.
Should I stay away from my drainfield when I drive or build?
The majority of drainfields (such as those built from rock and pipe or chamber systems) are built in open lawn spaces and aren’t built to support heavy construction machinery or even regular cars/trucks driving on them. The soil is compacted by the weight of heavy machinery and regular vehicles, which might break or crush pipes. Impermeable materials, such as concrete and asphalt, should not be installed on top of a drainfield, because they reduce evaporation and the provision of vital oxygen to the soil. Your septic system’s healthy bacteria and the proper decomposition of sewage by soil microorganisms both depend on a regular supply of oxygen.
Without consulting a local architect or obtaining the necessary permits, avoid constructing any structures near or on your drainfield. On the drainfield, it is not advised to grow vegetable gardens, plants, or trees. Roots from trees and shrubs can clog and harm drainfield pipes. Vegetables could perhaps come into contact with sewage effluent and be dangerous to eat. The ideal vegetation to plant over your drainfield includes native grasses and ground coverings.
Clearwater Septic & Pumping: Charlotte, NC
If you suspect that your septic system requires repairs or you simply want to make sure to keep up with regular inspections and maintenance to avoid costly repairs, contact us at Clearwater Septic & Pumping or call us at 704-630-5619. We serve the area around Charlotte, North Carolina (including Catawba County, Rowan County, Iredell County & Mecklenburg County), and we provide free estimates with no obligation on your end.
Information from https://www.epa.gov/septic/how-care-your-septic-system