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The Do’s & Don’ts of Your Septic System

The Do’s & Don’ts of Your Septic System

A septic system is an essential part of many homes, particularly those located in rural areas without access to public sewage systems. It is a self-contained, underground wastewater treatment system that efficiently processes and disposes of household waste. In this article, we will discuss the dos and don'ts of maintaining a septic system in your home, ensuring its longevity and proper function. 

Understanding the Septic System 

A septic system is comprised of two main components: a septic tank and a drain field. The tank, constructed of either concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene, collects all wastewater from a household, separating solid waste from liquid waste.  

Through natural bacterial processes, solids break down and sink to the bottom, while oil and grease rise to the top, forming a low-density layer of scum. Liquid waste, known as effluent, then exits the tank and flows into the drain field.  

The drain field itself consists of a series of perforated pipes buried in gravel-filled trenches. As effluent percolates through the surrounding soil, natural filtering processes treat the wastewater before it can potentially harm groundwater or surface water. 

How Do Things Get into Your Septic System?  

Different things can get into your septic tank, including:  

  • Waste. Item that are not completely flushed down the drain or that slowly decompose (i.e. coffee grounds, cigarette butts, etc.) can get into and damage your septic system.  

  • Tree roots. Depending on their proximity to your septic system, plant life can clog and damage your drain field.  

  • Synthetics. Bacteria in the septic tank field are not always able to break down synthetic fibers that flow from washing machines.  

  • Solid waste. You should be mindful of what you put down your disposal as well as how often you use your disposal systems; when used heavily or incorrectly, the solid waste can end up in or clog your system.  

The Importance of Having a Healthy Septic Tank  

We cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a healthy septic system for both personal well-being and the health of our environment. Neglecting septic system maintenance can lead to serious consequences, such as: 

  • soil and water contamination due to untreated wastewater seeping into the ground,  

  • increased insect populations attracted by the pooling effluent, and  

  • unpleasant odors that can diminish the quality of life for both humans and animals alike.  

By investing in regular septic system maintenance, not only can property owners minimize the need for costly repairs or replacements, but they can also extend the lifespan of their systems, ultimately contributing positively to the environment. A well-functioning septic system also:  

  • reduces the risk of groundwater pollution and  

  • helps maintain local water quality, ensuring a sustainable future for both people and the planet.  

Septic Tank & Maintenance Do’s & Don’ts   

Here are some do’s and don’ts for your septic system that will help with maintaining your system: 

Regular Inspection and Pump-Outs 

  • Do have your septic system inspected by a professional every 1-3 years, depending on usage and local regulations. 

  • Do pump out your septic tank every 3-5 years or when the inspector recommends it. Frequent pump-outs prevent the buildup of sludge and scum, which can cause system failure if left unchecked. 

Monitoring Chemical Use and Preventing Clogs  

  • Do minimize the use of household chemicals, such as bleach and drain cleaners. Excessive chemical use can kill the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank, reducing its effectiveness. 

  • Do not flush non-biodegradable items, including diapers, wipes, feminine hygiene products, and dental floss, as they can clog the system and cause backups. 

  • Do not use the garbage disposal excessively or dispose of grease, fats, and oils down the drain. These substances can solidify and accumulate in the tank, leading to clogs and system failure.  

Maintaining the Drain Field and Preventing Overloading 

  • Do divert rainwater and surface runoff away from the drain field to prevent saturation and reduce treatment capacity. 

  • Do not drive or park heavy vehicles on your drain field, as the weight can damage the pipes and compact the soil, restricting wastewater flow. 

  • Do not overload your septic system with excessive water use. Space out laundry loads, fix any leaks, and install water-saving fixtures to reduce the strain on your system. 

Planting Trees and Landscaping Near Your Septic System 

  • Do not plant trees or shrubs with deep root systems near your septic tank or drain field, as their roots can infiltrate and damage the system. 

  • Do choose grasses, wildflowers, or shallow-rooted plants for landscaping around your septic system, ensuring they will not interfere with its function. 

Using Septic System Safe Household Cleaning Products  

As we mentioned, bacteria in your septic tank breaks down the materials in your tank. However, some products can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in your septic tank, impairing its ability to break down waste. You can use organic and biodegradable products and should avoid putting the following products into your septic system: 

  • Chemical drain cleaners 

  • Paints, solvents, and thinners 

  • Pesticides and fertilizers 

  • Pharmaceuticals and personal care products containing harsh chemicals 

Other Tips for Keeping Your Septic System Healthy and Trouble-Free 

  • Do educate your household members about the dos and don'ts of septic system maintenance. 

  • Do keep records of septic system inspections, pump-outs, and repairs for future reference and potential homebuyers. 

  • Do consider installing risers on your septic tank access points for easy location and inspection. 

  • Do consider using septic-safe toilet paper and cleaning products to minimize the impact on your system's bacterial balance. 

Trusted Residential, Business, & Commercial Septic Services 

Wind River Environmental can help home and business owners maintain a healthy septic system. When you work with our professionals, you can trust that you are working with highly trained professionals who prioritize customer service.  

Call (877) 560-9007 to request a service today

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