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Septic System Vacation Prep: What to Consider While You’re Away

Family on Vacation at their Vacation Home

How to Prepare Your Septic System Before Leaving for Vacation 

Leaving for vacation can be an exciting time, but it's important to ensure that your septic system is well-prepared before you head out. This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to prepare your septic system for your absence. 

Step 1: Pump Out the Tank 

Ideally, you should have your tank pumped every 3-5 years, depending on usage. However, if you're unsure when your tank was last pumped, it's a good idea to schedule an inspection and potentially a pumping service before you leave. If your tank is full, pumping out the system before leaving for vacation is essential, especially if you will have a house sitter while you are away.

Some signs that septic tank is full include:

  • Slow drains. When your septic tank is full, waste and water have difficulty moving through the system, causing slow draining in sinks, bathtubs, and showers. This issue may initially seem like a simple clog, but if it is happening throughout the property, a full septic tank may be the cause.
  • Foul odors. A strong, unpleasant smell coming from drains, around the septic tank area, or near the drain field can indicate a full or overflowing septic tank. This occurs as sewage gases escape due to the lack of space in the tank.
  • Sewage backups. One of the most apparent signs of a full septic tank is sewage backing up into the property through toilets, sinks, and other drains. This is a serious health hazard and requires immediate attention.
  • Gurgling sounds. If you hear gurgling sounds coming from your drains or toilets when they're in use, it could be a sign of a full septic tank. The noise is caused by trapped air in the plumbing system as water struggles to flow through the congested tank.
  • Lush, green grass. While healthy grass is usually a good thing, an unusually green and lush patch of grass near the septic tank or drain field can signal a full tank. The excess wastewater seeping into the soil acts as a fertilizer, causing the grass to grow rapidly.
  • Standing water. Puddles or standing water around the septic tank or drain field can indicate an overflowing or full septic tank. This issue occurs as excess wastewater has nowhere to go and eventually surfaces on the ground.
  • w The ground around your septic tank or drain field may start to sink if your tank is full. This issue occurs as excess wastewater softens the soil, causing it to compress under pressure.

Step 2: Inspect for Damages 

Before you go, have a professional inspect your septic system for any signs of damage. During an inspection, your technician will check the tank, pipes, and drain field for cracks, leaks, or other issues. If they notice any problems, they can work out a plan to address them before you leave. As an added benefit, an inspection can also tell you if you need a tank pumping service or how long you should anticipate before needing one.

Step 3: Avoid Clogging 

Before you leave, you should avoid flushing items that can cause a clog in your septic system. You should avoid flushing the following items down your drains:

  • Grease, fats, and oils 

  • Coffee grounds 

  • Feminine hygiene products 

  • Baby wipes or "flushable" wipes 

  • Paper towels or tissues 

  • Cat litter 

Make sure all household members or anyone who might be house-sitting for you is aware of these restrictions before you leave for vacation. Also, be sure to avoid flushing these items even when you plan to stay home.

Step 4: Conserve Water 

Reducing water usage in the days leading up to your vacation can help prevent overloading your septic system. Some ways to conserve water include: 

  • Fixing any leaks in faucets or toilets 

  • Installing low-flow fixtures 

  • Running dishwashers and washing machines only when full 

Step 5: Turn Off Your Main Water Supply 

Before leaving, you should turn off the main water supply. Then, turn on your faucets to remove any standing water from your pipes. If you have garden sprinklers, you should also let the water drain from them by opening the spigots.  

Step 6: Schedule an Inspection (Especially If You Haven’t Had One Recently)  

By being proactive and arranging an inspection, you can prevent potential disasters, such as sewage backup or system failure, which could lead to costly repairs and an unpleasant return from your trip. Scheduling an inspection prior to leaving for vacation ensures that any issues can be addressed promptly, ultimately saving you money in the long run. Moreover, by taking care of this essential task beforehand, you'll have the peace of mind knowing that your septic system is in working order while you're away. 

Step 7: Ask Someone to Contact You If Issues Arise

If possible, ask a neighbor, family member, house sitter or friend to check on your home and alert you if they notice any issues or signs of a septic tank problem while you are gone. Even if you have taken the other steps to prepare your septic system for your time away, having someone check in and alert you if they see any signs of potential trouble can help you be safe rather than sorry.

High-Quality Septic Services  

Whether you need help pumping, repairing, or inspecting your septic system, Wind River Environmental offers comprehensive residential septic services. We are available 24/7, including on holidays, and are committed to providing honest and reliable services.  

Call (877) 560-9007 to learn more about the septic services Wind River Environmental offers.  

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