People that live in a rural area, like many of us in CT, make use of a septic system, which is like your own personal sewage treatment plant. If you take care of your septic system, the tank can last just about forever. Many people don’t realize how hard this system works for you until it fails. By that time, the expense of repairs is over ten times the average cost to have your system cleaned. Annual inspections help to recognize when your system needs pumping before problems occur, such as smells in the drains or a yard that remains wet and soggy with an odor over the leach field.
Here are some tips to help you to have the system work properly without upsetting the balance of good bacteria in your tank that is needed to break down materials.
1.) Don’t introduce large amounts of water into the system to upset the balance. Think of it as helping your septic system operate properly, while also conserving water to lower your cost of water. Turn faucets off when brushing your teeth. Avoid taking long showers or install water saving faucets in the showers. You can install a low-flush toilet to save between three and five gallons of water per flush. A less expensive trick is to place a container full of rocks or some bricks in the toilet tank so less water enter the tank to fill it and less water goes down the drain. Choose the correct load size on your washing machine so that extra water is not dumped into the system all at once. Also, space out doing large loads of laundry over the course of a few days to prevent harm to your septic system.
2.) Don’t use an excess of any type of household chemicals down the drains. Normal amounts of bleach, drain cleaners and household detergents will biodegrade in your septic system, however, even a very small amount of varnish, paint thinner, paint, antifreeze, gasoline, oil and pesticides can destroy the beneficial bacteria in the system. If you are cleaning paintbrushes or other items with these chemicals on them, take them outside to clean them with water, but don’t use the sink.
3.) Don’t use your household drains or toilet as a garbage can. Many items won’t decompose in the sewer system tank, will fill it quickly and cause system failure. Things to avoid putting down any type of drain or toilet include cigarette butts, coffee grounds, thick paper towels, cooking oils or greases, disposable diapers and facial tissues. Choose a toilet paper that decomposes quickly for your bathrooms. You can test it by filling a jar half-full of water, placing a handful of tissue in it and shaking the jar. If the tissue breaks down easily, it is suitable for your septic system.
4.) Take care not to wash solids down the kitchen drain. Even a small amount of food scraps can plug up your system and fill the tank with solids very quickly. This leads to the tank needing pumping often and also increases the risk for extremely expensive repairs to arise in your septic system.
5.) Modern appliances can cause you to need to clean your system more often because of the excess water introduced into it that kills good bacteria. Garbage disposals grind up food into tiny pieces that flow into the septic tank and increase the amount of sludge greatly. Many states require a larger minimum tank size if you have a garbage disposal. Draining a hot tub into your sewer system adds far too much water at a time to it. Instead, let the water cool and use it to irrigate your lawn and plants to get a double duty out of the water.
Following these simple tips can help to you extend the time between needing your system serviced and prevent expensive repairs if your system fails.