A Homeowner's Guide to Septic Maintenance
A septic tank is a buried, water-tight container through which wastewater flows for basic sewage treatment. Typically, a septic system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield. Whether you've just purchased a property with a septic system or you've had one for years, it's important to understand the steps you should take to ensure proper septic maintenance.
A septic system, with proper maintenance, can last for up to 40 years. In this blog post, your expert team at Goebel Septic Tank Services will highlight everything you need to know about maintaining your home's septic system. Let's get started.
Regularly Pump Your Septic Tank
As a general rule, you should pump your home's septic tank every 3 to 5 years. Your septic system should be inspected at least every 3 years by a septic service professional. There are a number of factors that will influence how often you need to pump your septic system, including:
- The size of the household
- Septic tank size
- Total wastewater generated
- The volume of solids in wastewater
These timeframes, as noted, are only a general rule. There are also a number of other signs that your tank may be full. These include:
- Large volumes of standing water around the tank
- Sewer backup
- The noise of gurgling water
- Drains take a long time to clear
- Foul odors in the backyard
If your septic tank has mechanical components, pumps, or electrical float switches, it should be inspected more frequently (once a year is recommended).
Replace or Clean Your Effluent Filter
The cylindrical device installed on the outlet baffle of a septic tank is known as an effluent filter. Its job is to assist in the removal of solids of wastewater before it enters into a drainfield. Effectively, they are designed to protect the drainfield and allow for clearer and cleaner effluent to exit the tank.
The effluent filter, therefore, should be replaced or cleaned regularly. When an effluent filter becomes clogged or starts to fail, it can result in significant problems with a septic system. An effluent filter can be either cleaned or replaced during routine tank maintenance to ensure that it continues working properly.
Inspect Your System for Leaks
Another way to prolong the lifespan of a septic system and spot potential problems early is to regularly check for leaks. Leaks typically occur due to broken pipes, overflow, or clogs.
A common way to check for leaks is to look at the drainfield area. Here, you may spot overgrown vegetation, a soggy yard, or excess standing water. These are all likely signs of a leak and/or clog.
These signs may also be accompanied by a strong smell. In these cases, it's important to schedule septic maintenance without delay.
Use a Bacteria Additive
A bacteria additive helps to promote bacteria growth. This leads to the breakdown of solids. It's important to first check with your local municipality as some additive products may be prohibited. A septic service provider, such as Goebel Septic Tank Services, will be able to advise on recommended products to use.
It's also important to be aware that certain cleaners can kill the microorganisms in the system that keep it healthy. Therefore, you should avoid flushing unnatural substances like bleach and harsh cleaners down the drain where possible.
Maintain Your Drainfield
As we have highlighted, the drainfield is an integral part of a septic system. Therefore, it should be adequately maintained. One way to do this is to avoid it becoming saturated, so avoid having any rainwater drainage systems spilling onto the area.
Furthermore, you should never plant trees close to the drainfield, as tree root systems have a habit of making their way into drainpipes, which can cause serious problems.
Also, avoid parking cars on the drainfield as the weight can result in damage. Regular tank pumping will also help to maintain a drainfield, reducing the risk of overflow as backups.
Properly Dispose of Waste
Another step that you can take to maintain your septic system is to properly dispose of waste. For example, it is recommended that you choose biodegradable toilet paper. While all types of toilet paper will break down in a septic tank, choosing a biodegradable one will help to speed up this process.
Avoid flushing feminine products such as tampons and pads as they can clog the system. Feminine products should instead be disposed of in a trash can. Baby wipes and washing clothes should also not be flushed.
Never pour cooking grease or oil down your drains, as they can cause clogs in your septic tank. Pour your grease into a container instead, where it will harden and can be thrown out as regular trash.
Other items to avoid flushing or pouring down the drain include dental floss, cat litter, cigarette buts, coffee grounds, and household chemicals such as bleach and drain cleaners. As noted, chemicals can end up killing the good bacteria present in a septic tank.
A Homeowner's Guide to Septic Maintenance
The above tips will help you to keep your septic tank in good working order, avoid unexpected issues, and increases its overall lifespan. If you are unsure about any aspect of septic maintenance, it's recommended that you consult with a professional and experienced septic service provider.
In Thurston County and Lewis County in Washington State, your premier choice is Goebel Septic Tank Services. We are your trusted resource for all things septic, including inspection and maintenance. Contact us today for a quote.