Septic Tank Maintenance

“If you want your septic tank to continue functioning correctly, whether you just bought a home (and discovered it has a septic tank) or you’ve kept it for years, regular septic tank maintenance is the key.”


Septic Tank Maintenance


In Simple Terms, What Is A Septic System?

To understand how to maintain your septic tank properly, let’s look at the basics of household waste. Water from bathing, washing dishes, and toilet flushing comes into contact with household waste. Your household waste is hazardous to drink and even handle. However, it must go somewhere, and that’s where a properly maintained septic system can help.


How Your Septic Tank Works

Septic tanks typically contain 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of wastewater and are usually constructed from plastic or concrete. During the septic system process, wastewater passes through the filter from your house into the tank. After the water separates from the solid matter, a settling process occurs.

The sludge layer breaks down over time due to naturally occurring bacteria. Meanwhile, the heavy waste inside the tank continues to degrade. Excess filtered water or effluent escapes through perforated pipes and a drain field.


What Is The Purpose Of My Septic Tank?

Small community cluster systems or septic tanks are the most common options for homes without city or county sewer systems. You likely have a septic tank because you do not have access to an existing utility system, or the house was not connected when you built it. Water can be processed and disposed of efficiently by a septic tank.


Here Are Some of the Best Tips for Septic Tank Maintenance

Check the septic tank maintenance for your system regularly so it runs smoothly and lasts as long as possible. The following are some important tips/suggestions.


Pump your septic tank regularly.

Do you know that pumping a septic tank is part of routine maintenance? Pumping involves removing sludge and scum from the tank, resulting in a complete emptying. Sludge can build up in a tank if it does not empty regularly, leading to contamination and, in some cases, septic system failure.

Generally, you should pump your septic tank about every three years, depending on its size, the number of gallons of water and wastewater you use, and your family size. The tank will need pumping more often if it comes into contact with excessively.

Furthermore, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, sludge must be removed from tanks regularly using pumps, mechanical components, and electrical float switches.

Your system may be complete if you hear gurgling water. Or if you notice that your drains take a long time. Suppose you see large amounts of standing water around your tank. Or if you suffer from a sewer backup. And if you smell odors in the backyard. Regardless of when someone pumped it, this remains true.


Check Your System for Leaks

Leaks are usually the result of clogs, overflows, or broken pipes. Regularly checking for leaks can help you catch a problem early and prolong the life of your tank. Examining the drain field is a simple way to spot a problem.


Check Your System for Leaks


Your septic system may be clogged and leaking if you have a soggy yard, overgrown vegetation (or even lush vegetation), and standing water. It’s time to call a septic professional if you notice any of these signs, especially when combined with strong odors.


Make sure your effluent filter is clean, or replace it.

As such, you should clean or replace your effluent filter regularly to avoid clogged drain field pipes. When these screens fail or become clogged, it can cause more serious septic system problems when effluent water leaves your septic tank.

For your septic system to function effectively, it must be inspected and cleaned regularly during routine tank maintenance. That’s why cleaning or replacing your effluent filter is best done during regular tank maintenance.


Add a bacteria additive.

If your septic system functions correctly, adding bacteria additives to your tank is unnecessary. Still, they help promote bacterial growth, necessary for solids to break down. Avoid flushing these items down the drain as much as possible because they are unnatural substances that can kill your system’s microorganisms. Bleach and harsh cleaners can kill the organisms you need to keep your system healthy.

If you add additives, check with your local municipality, as some products may be prohibited. We recommend consulting your local professional or septic service provider before using additives.


Keep septic tank lids closed.

You must keep your septic tank lids closed and secured. A dislodged or broken lid can become a safety hazard, and an uncovered lid can allow surface water and dirt to enter. This may result in a problem and reduce the life of your septic tank.

Whenever you notice that your septic tank lid isn’t securely fastened or appears cracked or damaged, contact a local septic tank system repair service to inspect your system and, if necessary, perform the repairs.


Keep Your Drain field in Good Condition.

Maintaining your drain field correctly is an integral part of a septic system. Using septic tanks efficiently requires that the drainfield area stays saturated, so you shouldn’t overwater it or have sump pumps, roof drains, or rainwater drainage systems spilling over it.

It is also important not to park your car on the drain field or plant trees nearby since cars can add weight to the drain field, which can damage it, and tree root systems can infringe on your drainpipes.

Finally, it would be best to pump your septic tank regularly to prevent overflows and backups from affecting your overall system.


Drainfield Clog Inspection

Routine maintenance is usually possible to prevent drain field (or leach field) clogs, but a routine inspection can prevent even more severe problems. Walk around your leach field to inspect it more closely if you hear gurgling water sounds, smell bad, or see slow drainage or backing up.

If you notice any of these symptoms, there may be a problem with the leach field. A soggy grass or water standing in your yard may indicate an issue that needs to be fixed or maintained by a professional.


Dispose of waste properly.

You can keep your septic system in good working order by disposing of waste properly. Below, we’ve included a few things you may need to learn that can positively affect your system.


The toilet paper

Inevitably, all toilet paper will eventually decompose using your septic system, but choosing biodegradable toilet paper will accelerate the process.


Products relating to feminine hygiene

Unless you dispose of feminine products in a trash can, don’t flush them down the toilet. They can clog your septic system and cause you to need regular septic tank pumping.


Towels made from paper

Due to their slow breakdown time, you should not flush paper towels, baby wipes, or washing clothes down the septic system.


A litter box for cats

Cat litter can absorb liquids, so sending it through your septic system can cause problems. Furthermore, cat waste can hurt the environment due to the parasite it contains, which can affect wildlife (and, in some cases, humans). It would help to dispose of cat litter in the garbage, not down the drain.


Oil used in cooking

Never dispose of cooking grease down your garbage disposal or kitchen sink to avoid clogging your septic tank. Make sure to pour the grease into an empty food can or container. The grease will harden, and then you can dispose of it as regular garbage.


Filing floss for the teeth

A surprising factor often overlooked is that dental floss has the strength and size to clog your septic system. It can bind up more oversized items and get caught around motors, pipes, and other components, causing severe septic system issues.


Butts of cigarettes

The butts of cigarettes don’t decompose, despite their small size. They can accumulate in your septic system and require you to inspect it more frequently than usual. You must be correct if putting them down the garbage disposal might help.

Garbage disposals work to handle organic materials, so they cannot handle cigarette butts, which can quickly expand and cause clogs.


Grounds from coffee

Depending on the amount of acidity in the coffee grounds, they can alter the pH balance in your septic tank. Therefore, they should not be disposed of down the drain or put into a garbage disposal. Instead, please dispose of the grounds in the trash or use them as fertilizer outside.


Chemicals for household use

Even though household chemicals like bleach, antibacterial soaps, and drain cleaners seem like good things to put down the drain, they can kill good bacteria that septic systems require to function.

Keep your drain cleaner and use a drain snake instead of chemical drain openers or chemical additives if you encounter a small clog to try to clear the pipe. Try to limit your use of chemicals as much as possible.


Using water efficiently

Septic systems can handle the amount of water a typical family uses. However, excessive water usage can cause the sludge, liquid waste, and scum layers not to separate correctly. In addition to washing machines, long showers, hot tubs, and many other daily activities, septic systems waste gallons of water.

Water use efficiency helps reduce water waste and prevents septic system maintenance from occurring more frequently.

Take care to minimize the amount of wastewater going down your drain, such as using high-efficiency toilets and washing machines and changing daily habits to reduce excessive water consumption.


Record Maintenance Accurately

Maintaining your septic system requires regular inspection and pumping it as often as necessary. At the same time, you should keep accurate maintenance records, which can help you keep track of its age, condition, and needs.


Do not flush anything down the toilet.

Many people flush things down the toilet, causing their septic tank to require pumping more frequently than it should. The disposing of waste section covered several essential tips, including never flushing feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, cat litter, etc.

You may want to protect your toilet from unexpected toys that can clog and damage your pipes if you have young children. Dropping something in the bathroom will send it further into the septic system, making it nearly impossible to retrieve later. Do not flush it right away.


Keep your leach fields and septic tanks free of vehicles.

If you have heavy vehicles, avoid parking or driving over your leach field or septic tank. Moisture from the naturally filtered water that the septic tank regularly exhales may cause your vehicle to get stuck in these areas more quickly.


What Is The Cost Of Septic Tank Maintenance?

Several factors influence septic tank pumping prices. These factors include the age of the system, how easily accessible it is, and the size of the home and system. Septic tank inspections should occur every one to three years, costing anywhere between $100 and $900.

Your septic system will likely cost around $1000 per year to maintain. An inspection typically costs around $300, while a pumping costs just over $400. If malfunctioning, septic systems require expensive repairs, so keeping them is cheaper than failing them.


Check Out Our FAQs for More Information.


Is there anything I should and shouldn’t do regarding septic tanks?

The list above contains ways to extend the life of your septic system. However, inspecting and maintaining it regularly is the best way to keep it in good working order. Additionally, it is important to avoid sending items down your septic system that are likely to cause damage, such as excessive water, chemicals, kitty litter, hygiene products, diaper wipes, etc.

You may be experiencing slow drainage, back-ups, foul odors, and standing water in your septic tank. Contact the professional today to have your system inspected and repaired.


Is there anything I can do if my septic tank backs up?

If your septic tank backs up, please call a professional right away. This could result from a clog, or a complete system could cause it. Contact a professional immediately to get your septic tank back to normal.


Pump the Tank and Have It Inspected By a Professional

Along with the tips we’ve covered, one of the most important things you can do is schedule a septic tank pump and have it inspected by a professional regularly. When your septic tank fails, it can be frustrating and costly, so follow our outlined steps to prevent it from happening again.