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.
That’s really interesting that flushing excessive chemicals can be bad for your septic system. I’ve been dealing with a lot of clogs lately and my go-to fix is to use some chemicals to stop the blockage. I’ll have to stop doing that and then call a sanitation service to fix any damage I might have done. Thanks for the tips and advice!
I haven’t ever thought to get my septic tank inspected. I just figured I would have someone come check it out once it started giving me problems. But, it makes sense to get it inspected yearly so that problems can be prevented. I am going to call someone to come and check it out now!
I never knew that consistently flushing salts and other solvents down your drain can damage your septic system. I live in an older house. I would hate to further damage the septic system and risk the repairs. I will be more careful about what I flush down it. Thanks.
I just moved to a new house with a septic tank system, but I didn’t know that it could be important to time my water use. I like to take 20-minute showers, but I’m not sure if my system can take that. How do I know how long to time my water usage for?
I’m trying to come up with a good way to get my septic tank taken care of. It makes sense that I would want to have a professional install it! That way I don’t have to worry about it getting put in wrong. I’ll have it inspected regularly afterwards, too.
Using a strainer for the drains in your kitchens to avoid harsh material from getting into the septic systems sounds like an idea that would work really well if implemented in every household. I know, from personal experience, that it’s easy to simply run certain food items through the garbage disposable, but we all know putting the wrong things into the garbage disposable can also ruin it. The practice of throwing food in the garbage, that does not belong in the tank, would certainly help in keeping the system operating correctly.
Great tips here.taking the proper steps to prepare your septic tank for winter now can save you a headache and costly repairs down the line.
This is some really good information about septic services. I had no idea that septic problems could be so destructive. I am so glad that you pointed out that you should put potato peels in the trash cans. I have always put them in my disposal and I am wondering how many problems that created.
You have to make sure that you will not park vehicles near the septic system. Be sure you know where your septic system is located. And keep all vehicle traffic off the tank, pipes, and drain field/soil treatment area.
I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to make sure that you aren’t flushing anything too large or problematic down the toilet to avoid the systems breaking. My family and I have recently moved into a new home, and since this home is a little older it still has a septic tank in the back yard and we’ve been worried about it. I think we might have to look into hiring a professional to service the system right now because I’d hate for there to be any current problems.
I didn’t realize that excessive flushing of salts and chemicals can be destructive for my septic tank. Thanks for these great tips! I’ll make sure to keep in mind to have our septic tank inspected once a year by a professional.
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