Although a septic system is normally fairly maintenance free, there is no surer way to case problems than put the wrong items into your tank. Avoid putting these items down your drain or into your field and save money on maintenance visits.
First limit the amount of solids you put down your drains and therefore into your septic tank. Do not flush sanitary napkins, tampons, or cat litter down your toilet, they can easily fill up your septic system. Disposable diapers, paper towels, or dye heavy toilet paper should also not be flushed. Basically you should avoid putting anything in your septic system that does not decompose quickly.
Also avoid putting large amount of foods down your garbage disposal. The occasional vegetable peelings or fruit skins are okay, but consistent use of a garbage disposal will can grow the solids into your septic tank to double the normal amount.
Consider replacing your garbage disposal with as expensive model as you can afford. Often the more expensive the model, the finer it grinds. This greatly impacts the decomposition time in the septic tank.
Avoiding heavy cleaners and noxious chemicals for normal cleaning jobs. Instead, use organic and biodegradable products. Not only are these better for the environment, but they will not kill the bacteria in your septic tank. If you do kill the bacteria in the septic tank, you will have to have the system regularly pumped out and new bacteria introduced.
This rule of thumb should also apply to paint thinners, gasoline, and motor oil, among other things. It is irresponsible to release these things into the environment, take them to a chemical station which can dispose of them as needed.
Grease can also ruin a septic system. This time the septic drainfield is clogged by excessive oils and pollutes the surrounding soil. Then the soil is unable to absorb, let alone process the liquids out of your septic tank. If your system is impacted by excess grease, it must be replaced. This can often be a costly process.
Even the amount of water that is placed into your system can limit your septic’s effectiveness. Fix any and all leaks as soon as possible and limit water that flows through your appliances. This means buying water sensitive appliances, but also waiting to do full loads of laundry and dishes in the dishwasher.
Limiting the things you put into your septic system is only part of taking care of the system. You must also protect the septic system from damage from excess weight on top of the drainfield. Weight can impact the soil around the drainage pipes, making drainage nearly impossible.
For this reason do not build any structure on top of your drainfield or cover it with concrete or other materials. You can plant grass over the area to prevent any soil erosion and cover the area.
If you do decide to plant items above your drainfield, make sure that they have very shallow root systems. This means keeping trees away from drainfields, where their roots can cause serious damage to the tank and surrounding area. A good rule of thumb is to have all trees at least one hundred feet away from the system.
You must also protect the area from excess rainwater. The soil around the drainfield should process waste water and cannot do so if it is already saturated with rainwater. Make sure that water does not pool over your septic drainage field.
If it does, talk to a landscape architect that can design a simple drainage system. Also consider the position of roof gutters and foundation drains that could be putting excess water into the drainage field.
These few precautions can keep your septic system in excellent working order. Once you make some of these changes they will become second nature. As an added bonus, by using less water and limiting damage to your system, you’ll save money on repairs and other bills.