Maintaining your septic system and plumbing is essential if you want to fully embrace the holiday cheer. During the celebrations, it’s easy to get caught up in all the hecticness of shopping, family gatherings, and food comas. The last thing you need is an emergency visit from a plumber when you’re hosting your big gathering. You’ll be thankful that you followed these seven tips to prevent a plumbing and septic disaster while celebrating this season.
1. Proper F.O.G. disposal
F.O.G Stands for Fats, Oils, and Grease; they’re a product of many ingredients used in our kitchens, especially around the holidays. Proper disposal of F.O.G. is an integral part of maintaining clean drain pipes and public sewer lines. Meat fats, cooking oils, butter, sauces, dressings, and dairy products all contain fats, oils, or grease that can cause a build-up when washed into the plumbing system.
During the cooking process, heat causes F.O.Gs to liquify, making them seem like a natural substance for plumbing to handle. The nightmare begins as F.O.G cools and begins to harden. As it cools, F.O.G can stick to the sides of drain pipes and sewer lines. Over time, a buildup will occur and block water or even sewage from passing through. With no exit through plumbing systems, wastewater only has one place to go, which is back from where it came. You’re already stressed because the in-laws are over for the holiday and now the plumbing is backing up into the house!
Preventing a plumbing or sewage backup is as easy as pouring a glass of water.
- Never pour grease down sinks or toilets, instead pour the oil into a sealable container. Grease will harden in the container, and you can simply dispose of it in a trash receptacle.
- Avoid using a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals only shred food waste into smaller pieces. Even at a smaller size, F.O.G. and food scraps can cause a costly blockage. Compost scraps, if possible, and dispose of the remnants in the trash.
- After use, use a paper towel or napkin to wipe out pots and pans before washing. Giving pans a quick wipe down will remove leftover F.O.G and keep it out of plumbing and sewer pipes.
- Large amounts of F.O.G can often be recycled. Look up F.O.G recycling near you or contact a local restaurant. Some restaurants accept used household F.O.G. and can reuse it.
2. Don’t Rush When You Flush
What gets flushed down the toilet throughout the year should be monitored; however, around the holidays, it is especially important. If your home has a septic system, this may be a good time for a refresher on the septic system do’s and don’ts. Septic systems are not built to handle anything other than human waste and toilet paper. Too frequently, items that are marked “septic safe” do not break down properly in the septic system and lead to issues down the road.
Objects can become lodged in a filter or drain pipe and clog the septic system, causing a back-up. Even worse, foreign objects can cause expensive damage to the system or leach field. While a new system may sound nice, it’s likely not a priority on your holiday wishlist. During the holiday season, septic systems and leach fields tend to be put to work more than usual. If an object is blocking wastewater from entering the septic tank, a backup will occur sooner than later. Remind your guests to place any feminine products, paper towels, or wipes in the garbage.
Remember, do not flush anything down the toilet other than human waste and toilet paper.
3. Avoid the garbage disposal
Garbage disposals have long been thought to make our lives more comfortable, and they do, but our plumbing and septic systems would beg to differ. Fats, Oils, and Grease in our food can stick to drain and sewage pipes, creating a build-up. Many food particles cannot be broken down by the septic tank and find their way into the leach field lines where they can cause clogs. Garbage disposals can cause clogs that lead to expensive damage, back-ups, and even pollution of drinking water.
It’s best to compost food scraps if possible and dispose of the remaining food in the garbage.
4. Limit Water Use
Having a house full of people, even just for an evening, can significantly increase the output of water from the home. According to the E.P.A., the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day. All that water works its way through the household and into the septic system. Using water-efficient products such as toilets, showerheads, and washing machines can help limit unnecessary water from entering the septic system and reduce the risk of system failure.
Overworking the septic tank is possible with all the additional water flowing to it from your beloved guests. The system needs time to treat wastewater and can become backed up if the input volume is higher than your septic tank can process. The benefits of limiting your household water usage extend far beyond your septic tank. A reduction in water use will increase the lifetime of your home septic system, help protect the environment, and keep your water bill down!
5. Inspect Drains and Pipes
Before guests arrive for the delicious holiday feast, you’ve prepared, go around your home and inspect drains and pipes. Turn on the water from sinks and showers and flush toilets while keeping an eye on how fast or slow they might be draining. Slowly draining water is a sign that a clog may be present somewhere in the plumbing or the septic tank itself. You may even be surprised to find a leaky pipe or faucet. Did you know a leaky faucet can account for hundreds of gallons of water each day? Checking for these symptoms well before hosting guests will allow time to resolve any issues before it’s too late. If you do identify a sink or drain that is slowly draining, contact your plumbing or septic service provider. A professional can help diagnose and solve any issues before they lead to expensive damage.
6. Don’t Park Vehicles Over A Leach Field
It can be tempting to park vehicles on the lawn if driveway and road parking is limited. If you have guests who will be arriving and choosing their own parking spot, it is in your best interest to take the time to rope off the area around the septic system to prevent them from accidentally creating a disaster for your system. Take caution here as parking on top of your septic systems leach field can be dangerous AND costly. The weight of a vehicle can compact the soil below and prevent the proper operation of the leach field. The compacting of soil also poses the threat of pipes breaking or collapsing, which could halt the leaching field from functioning altogether.
Your leach field is a delicate system of pipes and gravel that could implode with the weight of a vehicle. Not only will you incur expenses for repairing or replacing the system itself. But if the ground caves in, you may be looking at a tow truck to pull a vehicle out of your yard. Avoid these threats by parking cars away from your leach field. Consider asking your guests to carpool to conserve space!
7. Don’t Wait!
If you notice any signs or symptoms of a failed plumbing or a failing septic system, act immediately to prevent expensive damage. Scheduling regular maintenance is the number one key to avoid a holiday disaster, so before the guests arrive, contact your septic service provider and schedule a pumping or inspection. If you aren’t sure when the last time your tank was pumped, it is recommended to have a technician come to inspect the system. A trained professional will ensure that it is operating correctly and isn’t at risk of failing.
Signs of a failing system include:
- Sinks draining slowly or not at all
- Toilet clogs or slow flushing
- Foul odors around drains or outside around the septic tank
- Pooling water in the yard around the septic tank or leach field
- Gurgling noises coming from drains
Don’t let a holiday disaster prevent you from enjoying your plans with friends, coworkers and loved ones this year. Schedule regular service and follow best practices throughout the year to keep your septic system happy and healthy. Maintaining your septic and plumbing is crucial to enjoying the holiday season with peace of mind. Act early and remember, Wind River Environmental is your premier grease, septic, and drain service provider.