Septic tanks that don't receive regular maintenance can result in a variety of problems. These problems may include water contamination, frequent part repairs or replacements, or a broken septic tank. To prevent complications, keep up-to-date on your septic tank maintenance.
Follow these tips to keep your tank functioning properly, safely, and efficiently.
Depending on how often you use your tank, consider pumping it every two to five years. Have a septic maintenance professional clean through the manhole on the top centre of your tank. This works better than using inspection ports above outlets and inlet baffles.
Tank owners with garbage disposals should pump their tanks more often, like once a year. You have to do this because most garbage disposals lead to increased grease build up. For instance, meat grease and insoluble vegetable cellulose create a thick layer of gunk in the tank.
This buildup will eventually clog the tank drain field, and that will lead to a host of unpleasant problems. For this reason, schedule regular pumping for your tank.
Reduce Water Consumption
Too much water in your septic tank could lead to an overflow. When you can, reduce water consumption. You can cut back on water consumption by doing less laundry. Most laundry loads use up to 178 L. (47 gallons) of water every load.
Washing all of your clothes one day a week increases the amount of water you put in your septic tank. To avoid excessive water in your septic tank, only wash one or two full loads of laundry a day. If you can, use a front loading washing machine because they tend to use less water than top loading washing machines.
You can also reduce water consumption by installing low usage water appliances. Low usage fixtures for showerheads, dishwashers, toilets, and washing machines can reduce water consumption by more than 75,000 L (20,000 gallons) a year. You can get low flow fixtures at local home improvements stores.
Another way to reduce water in your tank is by keeping basement sump pumps and roof drains from draining into your septic system.
Minimize Household Cleaners
Your septic tank can't break down everything you throw at it. Try to reduce the amount of household cleaners you allow down the drain such as bleach, toilet cleaner, laundry detergent, and other toxic substances. Harsh chemicals like these eliminate the microorganisms essential to treating your wasted water.
You probably can't forego laundry detergent. For a safe detergent, try liquid options that don't use clay. Powdered detergents contain clay that speeds buildup of solids within the septic tank and could plug disposal areas. If you don't know what substances you can put in your septic tank, call your local septic maintenance provider.
Some homeowners who worry about not having enough bacteria in their tank try to compensate with additives. However, most additives cause more problems than solve them. Additives that claim to remove solids generally will. This causes a problem when the solids leave the tank and wind up in your disposal field, sealing off the discarding areas. If this disposal area becomes clogged, the septic system will malfunction.
As far as "seeding" your septic system with horse manure or yeast goes, it's generally unnecessary. The human waste in your tank contains enough bacteria. Likewise, the microbes from soil in the disposal area will keep your tank functioning properly as well.
Look for Warning Signs
Despite your best efforts to keep your septic tank as clean as possible, unexpected complications may arise. Here are a few issues that you should look for:
Unfamiliar smells: If you have noticed unfamiliar odours from ventilation systems or drains, your tank may have problems. Smells like sewage or rotten eggs most likely indicate methane in your septic tank. The presence of methane means your septic disposal area has clogged, so you will need to pump the tank.
Damp areas: If these occur around your tank, that's a bad sign. Liquids around your tank indicate you have a leak. These leaks could result from damage or overuse, but no matter the cause, they could cause serious problems. A slow leak could easily turn into a flood.
Slow drains: Does your water take a long time to drain into the sink? This may mean you have damaged pipes or an overflowing septic tank. You will need to have a septic maintenance professional clear the drain to allow water to flow freely through the pipes.
Save yourself from the stress of a broken septic tank system and use these tips to keep your tank working efficiently.