There, deep underground in your yard, is the most overlooked and undervalued system a homeowner has. It works tirelessly for you and your family day-in and day-out, and most people hardly think about it or even appreciate all that it does. What is it? Your septic system.
Your septic system is normally pushed back to the corner of your mind. Why think about your septic system when there are so many other pressing things on your mind? Think of your septic system as your very own on-site sewage treatment facility. Sewage treatment is vital for a healthy and safe home, and so your septic system is important. With proper care and maintenance, it can continue working hard for you and your family for years to come.
The good news is that septic care is relatively easy and costs very little money, much less than having to get your septic system repaired or replaced. Myers Septic is an expert at all things septic system related, so we’ve put together some tips to help you keep your septic system in its best health.
Your septic system includes two different pieces: your septic tank and the drainfield. Both must be properly maintained in order for your septic system to work and thrive. There are four key components for septic system maintenance: inspect and pump frequently, use water efficiently, properly dispose of waste, and maintain your drain field.
Inspections and Pumping
Your septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional, like us at Myers! Our technicians are licensed and trained to conduct thorough and honest septic tank inspections for both commercial and residential properties. A complete septic tank inspection includes an inspection of all pipes, scum and sludge level check, and a review of the drainfield condition. If your septic system is an alternative system that has electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components, it should be inspected once a year.
During the inspection of the septic tank, we will check your sludge and scum levels to determine if your tank needs to be pumped. There is a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank that prevents sludge and scum from leaving the tank and making its way to the drainfield. If the bottom of the scum area is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet, your tank will need to be pumped. Alternatively, if the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet, your tank will also need to be pumped. Most household septic tanks are pumped every three to five years.
After an inspection and a pumping, you will get a service report. It’s extremely important to keep all of your records regarding your septic system. Note all the work that was done, the sludge and scum levels found by the service professional, and the condition of your septic system. If the service provider recommends repairs, get them done sooner rather than later. Fixing your septic system early on will save you thousands of dollars later. Myers’s service professionals will tell you the condition of your septic system and will recommend any services. We are full-service septic providers, so if you have any septic system needs, we can fill them!
Use Water Efficiently
Water efficiency isn’t just a concern for the environment; it also concerns your septic system and your wallet. All the water that a household sends through its pipes goes to the septic system. That includes dishwashing, showers, toilets, and washers. According to the EPA, “the average indoor water use in a typical single-family home is nearly 70 gallons per individual, per day.” The more water that enters the septic system, the faster that the septic tank fills up. The faster that the septic tank fills up, the more frequently it will have to be pumped. Efficient water usage is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to help preserve and increase the life of your septic tank.
One way to increase your water efficiency is to fix all of your leaky faucets. That incessant dripping faucet or running toilet is not only annoying, but can also waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day. All of that water goes into your septic tank and is no longer useable. Not only are you wasting perfectly good water, but you are filling up your septic tank quicker, causing further wear and tear on your system.
If you want to go a step further, you can replace all of your water appliances with high-efficiency versions. For example, replace your old toilet with a high-efficiency version. An older toilet uses 3.5-5 gallons per flush, while newer models use 1.6 gallons or fewer per flush. Switching your toilet to a more effective toilet is an easy way to preserve the integrity of your septic system. Faucet aerators, high-efficiency showerheads, and shower flow restrictors also help reduce the volume of water entering your septic system. The EPA approves washers that bear the ENERGY STAR label, and they use 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water.
The cheapest and easiest way to conserve water is to just use less of it throughout the day. Try washing laundry at the correct load size. If you use your washing machine’s large-load cycle for a small load, you are wasting water. If you cannot choose a load size, then only wash full loads of laundry. If you only need a few small articles of clothing washed, try washing them in a plugged sink so you are using less water. Don’t wash all of your laundry in one day. It may seem like a time-saver, but that much water draining to your septic tank all at once might not allow time for your system to treat the waste and could potentially flood your drain field.
Hot tubs are another source of water usage for some households. The large amount of water that drains from the hot tub is not good for your septic system. Emptying water from a hot tub into your septic system can overload the system and stir the solids into the drainfield, eventually causing it to fail. Instead of pouring all of that water into your septic system, empty the cooled water onto turf or landscaped areas of your property under local regulation guidelines.
Properly Dispose of Waste
Everything that goes down your drain ends up in your septic system, regardless of whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the shower, and I mean everything. From food scraps to grease to cat litter, anything that goes down the drain ends up in your septic system.
Do not flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper down the drain, especially:
- Cooking grease or oil
- Non-flushable wipes
- Photographic solutions
- Feminine hygiene products
- Dental floss
- Cigarette butts
- Coffee grounds
- Cat litter
- Paper towels
- Pharmaceuticals and medicines
- Household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, paint, and paint thinners
Your septic system contains a collection of living organisms that digest and treat household waste. These organisms are essential to the septic system and pouring chemicals or other items down the drain will kill these organisms and disrupt your septic system. Your sludge and scum level will increase and you will have to get your septic tank pumped more frequently. Harsh chemicals can also erode the pipes that lead to the septic tank and cause leaks. If you have a clogged drain, use boiling water or a drain snake to remove the clog.
Eliminate or limit the use of the garbage disposal. Even if it chops up the pieces of food and grease that you put down the drain, all of that debris still ends up in your septic system and will ultimately clog your drain field. Instead of the garbage disposal, properly dispose of food waste. Now might be a great time to start a compost!
Maintain Your Drain Field
Your drain field is a vital component of your septic system. Your septic tank separates the sludge and scum from treated water. The treated water flows into the drain field and removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank. The wastewater from your tank empties into your drain field where the water trickles through a series of perforated pipes, through a layer of gravel, and down through the soil. The soil acts as a natural filter and contains organisms that help breakdown and treat the waste so it is safe to leach into the ground and groundwater.
Excess solids from the septic tank can clog the pipes in the drain field and not allow water to trickle out of the septic system. This can back up your septic system and cause damage to your pipes. Do not park on your drain field or use any heavy equipment or machinery on your drain field. Your drain field contains a system of pipes that you might break or crack if you put too much pressure on them. Plant trees away from your drain field to keep roots from growing into your septic system. We can advise you on the proper distance to plant trees to keep your septic system safe. Grass is the most appropriate cover for your drain field.
Make sure that your roof drains, sump pumps, and other rainwater drainage systems are draining away from your drain field. Excess water can slow down or stop the wastewater treatment process and overflow the drain field.
Why It’s Important to Take Care of Your Septic System
Taking care of your septic system is important for many reasons. When a septic system fails, inadequately treated waste can reach the groundwater, polluting local wells, streams, lakes, and ponds. Family, friends, neighbors, and community members are then exposed to contaminants and potential waterborne diseases such as dysentery, hepatitis, and typhoid fever that are caused by the bacteria and viruses from human waste.
Nitrates and phosphates found in domestic wastewater can cause excessive algae growth in lakes and streams, disrupting aquatic life and causing aesthetic problems for your community. No one wants to visit a lake that’s covered in algal blooms. Your community might lose tourism money from a lack of septic system care. In addition, a failing septic system can lead to unpleasant odors and soggy lawns.
A septic system is also incredibly costly to repair or replace. Improper maintenance is a surefire way to ensure early system failure. Spending a little bit of money upfront to have your septic system inspected and pumped can save you thousands of dollars in the future. Failing septic systems can cause property values to decline. Building permits may not be issued for these properties, decreasing the overall value of your home and the community.
Think of your septic system like your car. Every year you have it inspected to make sure it is functioning properly. If there are any repairs that need to happen, you take care of it before it gets worse. Your septic system should be treated the same way. Budget a little extra yearly to have your septic system checked. It will save you a ton of money and will help keep your family, and the environment, safe. Myers Septic offers great prices for inspections and pumping. Our service professionals will ensure that your septic system is taken care of and will last for years to come. Call us today for a fast, free estimate for all of your septic needs.