Your septic tank and leach field are actually pretty efficient waste disposal methods and if properly used and maintained will cost less than a city sewage and water service. However, if a problem occurs either with the tank or the leach field, repairs most likely will involve excavation and incur a significant expense.
We don’t want our customers with septic tanks to have to experience that kind of plumbing emergency so we are providing 5 important tips to keep their systems running efficiently and avoiding the most common causes of septic tank system failure.
5 Tips to Avoid Costly Septic Tank Repairs
- Be aware of what you are flushing down to your septic tank. The solids you send to the septic tank are attacked by natural occurring bacteria which decompose the material and allow them to be sent to the leach field. Rubber ducks and other “foreign objects” are impervious to the bacteria. Other common clog causing items include diapers, baby wipes, cigarette butts, paper towels, coffee grounds and cooking grease. Most of these items will eventually decompose but in the mean time they are taking up space in the tank which means it’s likely you’ll have to have it pumped clean before its time.
- Avoid excessive flushing of salts and chemicals. Everyday chemicals that are found in laundry detergents, dishwashing soap and mild cleaners are not a problem for your septic system. Harsh chemicals like solvents will disrupt the active bacteria and should be disposed at your local hazardous waste facility. If you have a water softener that malfunctions, you could be dumping in an inordinate amount of salt. Liquid waste loaded with salt can dry up the soil in the leach field reducing its ability to process the waste water.
- Time your water use. Because they have a fixed volume capacity, septic tanks are susceptible to “hydraulic overload.” This simply means that water is coming in faster than it can be leached out. Time your showers and don’t run the clothes washer and dish washer simultaneously. If the tank fills up there is nowhere for the waste water to go but back up the drain.
- Put garbage in the trash, not down the drain. Organic material like potato peelings, scraps, meat, bones etc. need to go out with the trash as garbage. You may want to get strainers for the drains in your kitchen sinks to prevent “scraps” from going to the tank when rinsing plates and utensils.
- Have your system professionally inspected once a year. A professional licensed Fort Lauderdale plumber should inspect your tank and leach field annually. An inspection will measure the scum, liquid effluent and sludge levels in your tank. The depth of the sludge level, that waste that has not decomposed, determines when the tank needs to be pumped empty. An inspection will also check for damage in the leaching system as well as clogged pipes.