Septic Tank Do’s and Don’ts

I don’t talk or write about septic systems and septic tanks very often mostly because I live and have lived in an area all my life where we have public sewer service, although I have built a few homes that used a septic system. Maintenance for your is critical to a properly functioning septic system. Let’s talk about a few things you need to know about your septic system and a few tasks you can easily accomplish to keep your septic system healthy.

First and foremost it is critical for you to understand your septic system is a living entity. The living component the bacteria is what breaks down the solids. Household soaps, an abundance of water and cleaning products can serve to kill the bacteria that are necessary to maintain a healthy septic system. There a several quality commercial products that you can add to your septic system to maintain a healthy bacteria level, one of which is Rid-X.  You can also mix up your own by combining 2 envelopes of active dry yeast and 1 lb of brown sugar. Mix thoroughly in a bowl and then add 4 cups of warm water. Let the mixture sit for about 15 min in a warm location until it expands and becomes foamy, then pour it in your toilet bowl and flush.  Either of these methods will add the necessary bacteria to keep your system healthy.

Products to avoid adding to your system are any type of alcohol, including wine and beer. Another item that kills bacteria is tobacco of any kind. Cooking oil and grease can harden and clog the system. Lint particles from the washing machine are very small and tend to stay suspended in the liquid. They do not settle to the bottom of the main tank, and will be carried through the system and can clog the pipes in the leach field. Always use a lint screen on the washer discharge line.

Diapers, tampons, paper towels and tissues do not break down and should not be flushed into the system.  Garbage disposals are not items that are conducive to a septic system. Items like egg shells, coffee grounds, cat litter and any kind of lint, including hair, shouldn’t be introduced into the septic system. Cleaning paint brushes in a sink and allowing residue to enter the system is also not a good idea. You need to be careful what cleaning supplies you put into the drain, If you don’t feel comfortable using any chemical without gloves including drain cleaners it isn’t a good idea to send them through the system.

A healthy tank still needs to be pumped out every 2 to 5 years. Size of the tank and use will determine the frequency. When your tank is pumped out ask what was the level of the tank was so you get an idea how often it should be pumped out in the future.

Now you know quite a few do’s and don’ts of your septic system. Take good care of your septic system so you don’t incur repairs that can easily run into thousands of dollars.


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