1. Inspect and Pump Frequently
The average household septic system should be checked out at least every three years by a professional. Sometimes how much water your family uses or the chemicals you put into your plumbing system can alter this time. Typically, they get pumped every 3-5 years. You can refer to this document here to determine exactly when you should get your septic system inspected.
Four major factors influence the frequency of septic pumping:
- Household size
- Total wastewater generated
- Volume of solids in wastewater
- Septic tank size
- Chemical usage
This is what you need to know if your service provider is coming:
Septic service providers will want to inspect for leaks, and they will also want to check the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank. This means that they will want to see if your septic tank is full of the sludgy layer, the layer that is most solid from feces and waste, indicating your septic tank will need to be drained. Be sure to keep maintenance records for the times you are visited by a service provider, as well as writing down the sludge and scum levels found by the septic professional.
So, more about that septic tank: It should include a T-shaped out, preventing sludge and scum from leaving and moving to the drainfield area. If the bottom of the scum layer is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet, or if the top of the sludge layer is within 1 foot of the outlet, your tank will need to be pumped.
The service professional will (or should) note repairs completed and the septic tank condition in your service report. If other repairs are recommended, hire a plumbing professional, or service professional soon.
2. Use Water Efficiently
On average, individuals use 70 gallons per day in the typical single-family home. You can imagine that for large families or 8 or more this equate to over 500 gallons of water per day. A running or leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day, meaning nearly thousands of gallons per weak.
All of this water that is used is sent down through the pipes, entering the septic system. The more water a household conserves, the less water to enter the septic system, improving the overall operation of the septic tank, reducing the risk for septic tank failure. You can conserve water in your home with really easy and simple steps:
- Use high-efficiency toilets.
Being that toilet use makes up for about 30 percent of household water use. If your home is one of the many older homes that have toilets with 3.5- to 5-gallon reservoirs, then you might want to invest in what the newer homes have, which is high-efficiency toilets that utilize 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush. Replacing your older toilet that uses more water per flush is a really simple way to reduce your water usage, thus reducing the amount of water entering your septic system.
- Aerators and High-efficiency showerheads.
You can help reduce your water use and the volume of water entering your septic system by using faucet aerators, high-efficiency showerheads, and shower flow restrictors.
- Water efficient washing machines.
There are a few things you can do, in terms of conserving water, when it comes to doing your laundry. Running smaller loads throughout the week will save your septic tank by allowing the bacteria to treat the sludge layer (waste) and preventing your drainfield to be flooded. It is recommended to use an Energy Star washing machine, that way you can use 35% less energy and 50% less water.
3. Properly Dispose of Waste
Everything that goes down the drain will inevitably end up in the septic tank. This means that whether you flush it down, grind it down, or pour it down, it is going to end up in the septic tank, thus effecting your septic tank and how it works.
Don’t treat your toilet as a garbage can
It might seem like common sense: Do not flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper, and your toilet is not a garbage can but sometimes it seems like the easier alternative. Whatever the case may be, don’t do it. Never flush: Cooking grease or oil, non-flushable wipes, such as baby wipes or other wet wipes, photographic solutions, feminine hygiene products, condoms, dental floss, diapers, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, medications, bleach, or household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint or paint thinners
Don’t pour chemicals down the sink:
Your septic tank contains a bunch of living organisms that digest, or otherwise eat your household waste. The toxins that you pour down your drain kill the organisms that eat the waste, otherwise causing your waste level to rise and potentially leading to your septic system needing to be cleared out more often. Whether you are at the bathtub, utility sink or kitchen sink, make sure you avoid chemical drain openers like Drain-O (Use boiling water or a drain snake instead), never pour cooking oil, grease or toxic cleaners down the sink, and eliminate/limit the use of the garbage disposal, reducing the amount of fats, grease and solids to enter your septic tank.
4. Maintain Your Drainfield
What is your drainfield? It is a piece of the septic system puzzle, a component that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from the septic tank. It is an important part of the draining process. These are a few things you could and should do to maintain it: Don’t park or drive on your drainfield, Don’t plant trees on the drainfield (the roots can grow into the septic system), and keep rainwater drainage systems, like roof drains and sump pumps away (excess water slows down and even stops the wastewater treatment process). A septic system professional can give you the proper distance, depending on your landscape, to keep trees, cars and water drains away from your drainfield.