Everything You Need to Know About Your Septic Tank System

Having a septic tank system can seem a little daunting if you've always been connected to your municipality's water and sewer supply. But, there are some great advantages to having one. Not only do you not have a utility bill for water and sewer usage, but you are actually helping the environment by disposing of your home's wastewater naturally. Here's everything you need to know about your septic tank system. 

How does it work? 
It's really simple, and requires no power source. Your home's wastewater will drain out for your home directly into the septic tank, where the solids will settle on the bottom. The wastewater towards the top of the tank will drain through a distribution box to the drainfield, buried beneath your yard. The drainfield is a series of pipes with holes that allow the waste water to slowly seep into the ground, where the nutrients from the soil and rocks purify it before it reaches the groundwater. 

How do you maintain it? 

There are two easy ways that you can maintain a septic tank system. Your daily routines and habits will go a long way towards keeping it running efficiently. And, you will need some professional maintenance. 

Daily Routines

  • It's best to regulate your water usage. The tank is designed to handle all of your home's wastewater, just not all at the same time. Overloading the tank can cause a backup, if you do it often. Doing laundry on a daily basis is much better for your septic system than having a heavy laundry day. Long showers on a regular occasion should also be avoided.
  • Be careful with what's going down the drains. The solids that go into your septic tank should quickly decompose or settle on the bottom. You should only use septic-safe toilet paper, and avoid large chunks of food going down your drain or through the garbage disposal. Things like paper towels, tissues, disposable diapers, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, and large quantities of household chemicals are also not suitable for your septic tank. Septic tank additives are also unnecessary, and should be avoided. And, never pour cooking grease down the drain, even with running hot water. It will settle or float somewhere, causing potential issues.

Professional Maintenance 

  • Your septic tank system should be a part of your home's yearly maintenance schedule. A professional inspection will check the condition of the cap and the surrounding area, as well as making sure that the drain field is functioning properly. It will also clue you in on how soon the tank needs to be pumped.
  • You'll need to have it pumped and cleaned every one to three years, depending on how big the tank is and how much wastewater your home is producing. The solids that settle on the bottom of the tank are referred to as sludge. Once the sludge is at the two-thirds level, it should be pumped out.

How long will it last? 

Depending on what the septic tank is made of, it can actually last practically forever. From time to time, you may have minor repairs on some of the pipes or other components. The drainfield is usually good for about 15 to 20 years, sometimes longer. 

How do you know if something is wrong? 

If things aren't working as they should, you'll get some indications.

  • Some drains might start to drain a little slower.
  • You will smell a strong, sulfur-like smell coming from the drains or outside.
  • In extreme cases, backups can occur.

And, there you have it. You may have to put a little more thought into maintaining your septic tank system. But, it's worth it. You're saving money and the environment at the same time.

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