Septic tank problems can be very expensive to repair, so prevention is key. If you take a few simple steps to care for your septic system, you can reduce the chances that wastewater will rise to the surface of your leach field and disrupt your yard. Here are four easy ways to avoid septic tank problems.
Be Careful With Antibacterial Soap and Chemical Pipe Cleaners
Antibacterial soap is great for killing bacteria on your skin, but it's not great for your septic tank. Antibacterial soap will kill off bacteria inside of your septic tank if it is used frequently. The bacteria inside your septic tank are responsible for breaking down the solid waste that goes into the tank. So if too much of the bacteria is killed off, your tank will fill up with sludge more quickly and problems from tank overflow will be more likely.
Caustic pipe cleaners can have the same bacteria killing effect inside your septic tank as antibacterial soap. While chemical pipe cleaners are occasionally necessary to remove the toughest clogs, you should try other methods of drain clog removal first. Boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar are common alternatives to chemicals that can be just as effective and are easier on your septic tank.
Use Your Garbage Disposal Carefully
By far, the biggest factor in the health of your septic tank is what you put into it. Even if you have a garbage disposal, there are a few foods and food byproducts that should never go down any of the drains in your home. Liquid oils and fats are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to septic tank problems, as garbage disposals can do nothing to combat their hardening properties. Once they have hardened, the bacteria in your septic tank can't break them down effectively. If you must pour oil or fat down your drain, follow it up with boiling water to aid in dissolving it.
While you can use your garbage disposal to safely dispose of fruit rinds, eggshells, and even small bones, it is important to weigh this convenience against the toll it will take on your septic tank. Any solids that go down your drains will cause your septic tank to fill faster and increase how frequently it must be pumped.
Have Your Septic Tank Pumped Regularly
Even if you follow all of the tips for a healthy septic tank, it will still need to be pumped eventually. Septic tank sludge is inevitable, and if left unchecked it can build up and block the tank's outlet pipe. This can lead to backups through the drains in your home as well as leaks as the tank reaches its full capacity. Having your septic tank pumped every three years, or every year if you have a garbage disposal, is normally sufficient to prevent backups and keep septic tank sludge at acceptable levels.
In addition to having your tank pumped regularly, you need to take immediate action if you notice any signs of septic tank problems. The most common sign is dirty standing water on the surface of the leach field. Under normal circumstances, the water that is released by your septic tank will contain only organic materials that can be processed by plant life in the soil. Standing water is a sign that your tank should be inspected immediately to avoid groundwater contamination and disease from exposure to unprocessed waste water.
Maintaining your home's septic tank is a task that every homeowner needs to be prepared for. Fortunately, septic tank maintenance is infrequent and problems can be easily avoided if you are careful of what you put down your drains. Keep these tips in mind and have your septic tank pumped regularly to avoid costly leach field excavation and tank replacement.
For more information and assistance with maintenance or repair, contact a septic system company, such as AAA Pumping Service.