Maintaining your septic tank system

How important is the septic tank in your home plumbing system?  More importantly, do you really need to maintain it?

Although it is designed to hold effluent, many homeowners tend to forget that just like any part of the plumbing system, it needs to be kept in shape to ensure its smooth operation.  So let’s learn how to maintain the septic tank system.

The Toilet


One of the direct lines to your septic tank system is your toilet.  As such, it becomes the entry point of many of the things that finds its way into your septic tank.  The problem with this is that many homeowners do not know how to take good care of their toilets.

Toilets are designed to handle body waste and water only.  Although it is called toilet paper, it does not really belong inside the toilet, unless its packaging says it is safe to flush.

Why is this important to know?  Because flushing things that don’t belong in the toilet can lead to clogged drains, damaged tank, damaged drain field, and sewage backup.

Make sure that you have a trash bin beside the toilet so that anything that does not belong in the bowl goes into the trash.  This is one of the best ways to maintain the health of your septic system.

Water Usage

Every septic tank has its own capacity and the size of the drain field is limited as well.  Since wastewater is treated onsite, excessive use of water can overfill the tank and make it impossible to completely separate the solids.

When this happens more solid waste will end up in the drain field and result in clogging or septic failure.

How can you cut down on your water usage?  Change to water-efficient fixtures and avoid using your washing machines and dishwashers simultaneously.

To make the most of your laundry, always use full loads.  Perhaps the most effective way to save water is to fix leaks immediately.

Drain Strainers

They are cheap, easy to install, available in most hardware stores, and they belong on top of your drains.  Yes, these drain strainers can be a lifesaver especially when you consider that they can keep food scraps, hair, and other materials that can cause clogging and system failure out of your drains.

When synthetic materials get into the septic system, especially the drain field, it can cause the septic system to fail.  Of course, these drain strainers are not as effective when it comes to harsh chemicals found in laundry soaps.

These chemicals can destroy the bacteria in the septic system and allow wastewater to remain untreated.  The strainers can keep some of the soap scum out of the drains though.

It is important to point out that keeping the bacteria in the septic system healthy will ensure that septic tanks will remain functional and efficient.  And when maintained properly, there is nothing else that your septic system needs.



What do you need to do when scum and sludge accumulates and seeps out of the tank?  It is time to have the septic tank pumped.  Part of properly maintaining your septic system is to have it inspected and pumped at least every 3 to 5 years.

This part of the maintenance should be left to experts because of the dangerous gases in your septic system.  To be sure you do not miss out on the schedule, record all inspections, repairs, and maintenance work done on your septic system.

Drain Field

Majority of solid waste will be processed in-tank with just a bit making it to the drain field.  The problem is when sludge build up in the tank and it is not pumped out.

This allows solid waste to move faster into the drain field.  The result will be the manifestation of foul odor, wet spots, puddles, and clogged distribution pipes.  Sometimes gurgling drains are an indication of drain field problems.

If you keep up with the pumping schedule, the only things you need to worry about the drain field is tree roots getting into the sewer pipes and preventing over saturation.

This is why you need to plant trees at least 30 feet away from your sewer line and research about growth patterns to protect your septic system.

Water from downspouts and pumps should always be directed away from the drain field.  Keeping the unnecessary weight from compacting the soil also helps to maintain smooth water flow.

Bottom line is that if you correct bad habits, maintain a regular pumping schedule, and keep oily substances out of the drains you can keep your septic system well-maintained.

Additionally, having a licensed professional check your plumbing system at least once a year will go a long way in saving yourself a whole lot of plumbing troubles. Please visit to learn more.

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