Because septic tanks are hidden underground, they are out of sight and all too often out of mind for many homeowners. It’s easy to ignore your septic system – at least until something goes wrong. Then it becomes impossible to ignore. Protect your septic tank and prevent problems with these four simple precautions.
The less water you use, the less water gets sent to your septic system. It’s easy to assume that a septic tank can handle any amount of water you throw at it, but in reality, too much can put a strain on your system and over-saturate the soil within its drain field. When this happens, it can affect the soil’s ability to deal with toxins, pollutants and bacteria.
There are a number of ways you can reduce water use, including taking shorter showers, installing low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets, and loading your dishwasher and washing machine to capacity every time you use them. As an added bonus, these measures will also help reduce your water bills.
Use your Garbage Disposal Sparingly
Every time you use your garbage disposal, it adds additional materials to your septic tank, some of which can take years to break down. The less you use your garbage disposal, the better; and you should avoid using it for anything other than food scraps and other biodegradable waste. Chemicals like acids, solvents, pesticides and paint thinners have no business going down your drain. Harsh chemicals not only damage your septic system, but they kill the beneficial bacteria that break down organic materials in your septic tank.
Avoid Excessive Flushing
The same principle that applies to your sink also holds true for your toilet. You shouldn’t flush anything down your toilet other than water, toilet paper and you-know-what. Items like grease, baby wipes, cigarette butts and paper products of a heavier grade than toilet paper can be potentially damaging. It’s also wise not to think of your toilet as a quick way to dispose of small items. Flushing your toilet to get rid of a single tissue is wasteful and adds unnecessary water to your septic tank.
Have Your System Checked
Even if you take all the necessary precautions, it’s still a good idea to have your septic system professionally inspected periodically. Most systems need to be pumped out every four to six years, and systems more than three years old should be inspected annually by a licensed septic system company.