A septic system is a large financial investment that performs an essential function for your home. There are many variables that affect the lifespan and performance of an onsite septic system. Some of these things include location, design, installation, usage and maintenance. Here are some tips to assist you with the care of your system.
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Maintain your system proactively rather than reactively
Know the location of and basic function of your system’s components
Keep a “septic file” for documents, service invoices, and other related information
If your system has a filter clean it at least twice each year
Keep all access lids visible (ie: don’t let vegetation grow over them)
Fix any “run on” toilets or leaky taps
Space out water use as much as possible (i.e. doing the entire week’s laundry in one day might overload the system)
Keep surface water flows away from dispersal field and tank
Limit the amount of bleach and anti-bacterial products that enter your system
Use mechanical drain cleaners instead of chemical cleaners
Don’t use additives to restart the tank or to prolong pump out intervals as they can do more harm than good
Keep items like paper towels, sanitation wipes, and feminine hygiene products out of the system
Avoid or reduce the amount of fats, oils, and grease entering your system
Don’t plant large-rooted vegetation on or near your septic system
Keep grass on top of septic field mowed
Don’t drive heavy vehicles or allow heavy farm animals over any part of your system
Don’t build any structures over any part of your system
Determining a maintenance schedule for your septic system is best done with a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach. Here are some general tips to assist you with maintaining your system. These are generic tips and some may not apply to your system.
On average, most septic tanks require service approximately every two to five years. This varies with tank size, number of people using the system and their personal habits.
Septic tanks should only be cleaned out using the large cleanout access, not the small inspection ports.
When you are getting your septic tank pumped out, have a hose with water available and all tank access ports should be made accessible.
When the septic tank is pumped, the pump chamber should be checked for sludge and cleaned if necessary. Also, the float switches should be checked that they are clean and secure. This is also a good time to test the high water alarm and test the pump.
If the runs of your pressure field have at-grade end caps, have them checked at the same time you have your septic tank serviced.
If your pressure field doesn’t have at-grade end caps, it is a good idea to have that changed so that routine checking and maintenance can be done.
It is a good idea to have your D-box inspected approximately every ten years. It should be checked for sludge, roots, fluid levels, and integrity. The condition of the D-box can be used as an indicator for the condition of your disposal field to determine if it requires cleaning.
The initial sign of a sewer back-up is usually indicated by a gurgling sound coming from a toilet or bathtub. If you experience this or an actual sewer back-up 1) Immediately stop all water use 2) Call a service provider for assistance.
Sewer Pooling or Spongy Spots
If you observe sewer pooling or spongy wet spots of sewer in your yard, call a service provider.
If the alarm panel sounds 1) silence alarm panel 2) restrict all water flows 3) contact a service provider immediately.
Septic System Safety
Keep all component lids secured
Never enter any confined spaces
Do not touch any electrical components (except the alarm silence switch) unless directed by a professional
Do not attempt to carry out any system maintenance without taking appropriate safety precautions