Protecting and Maintaining Your Septic System

Septic tank pumping

Septic tanks aren’t something we think about most days. When they have a problem, though, it can cause a lot of mess and expense. The best way to keep your septic system from causing you problems is to take care of it properly. Here are some tips on size, maintenance, and cleaning that will help keep you from having to worry about your septic tank.

  • Make sure you have the right system installed. About a quarter of American homes use a septic system, and it needs to be large enough to hold about two whole days worth of wastewater. Two days is approximately how long it takes for solids to settle out. The typical single family home uses around 70 gallons a day of water for each person. The amount of solids in the septic system is increased by 50% if there is a garbage disposal, so this also needs to be taken into consideration. This means a four-person household will generally need a septic system with a minimum of 1,000 gallons capacity.
  • Understand why maintaining the tank is necessary. First, it saves you money and protects the value of your property. The cost of maintaining a septic system runs approximately $250 to $500 for every three to five years. The cost of septic tank repair is easily 10 times this high. Second, maintaining your tank will protect you and anyone living near you from exposure to disease-causing bacteria, viruses, nitrogen, and phosphorus. A malfunctioning system can contaminate the groundwater and harm you, nearby swimmer, and animals.
  • Know how to keep your septic system in good working order. Always get it inspected at least once every three years. It should be pumped every three to five years, and if you have a newer alternative system it may need to be inspected every year. It’s a good idea to have a service contract with a reputable septic service company in your area.
  • Know how to use it more efficiently. Using the water in your home efficiently is the best way to avoid having to constantly pump out your system. As with any product, the more it is used, the faster the septic tank will break down or need service. Make sure your home has no leaky pipes. A leaking toilet, for example, can be wasting as much as 200 gallons of water every day, Then, make sure you’ve got high-efficiency toilets, high-efficiency showerheads, and that you’re washing laundry with the right load size programmed in.
  • Take good care of your home’s waste disposal in order to spare your septic tank. Don’t use chemical drain uncloggers if you can help it, and never pour oil-based paints or solvents into the septic system. Limit how much you use the garbage disposal, especially if you’re putting fat and grease down it. And always make sure that nothing is going into your toilet except human waste and toilet paper.

Septic systems are a great modern convenience, and they make most of modern life possible and comfortable. Don’t take yours for granted: get it maintained and establish best practices in your home to save water and spare your system.

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