Living with a septic system means knowing what you need to do to keep it healthy, functioning and effectively treating your waste water. This requires that you not only know what you need to do on a daily basis, but what periodic maintenance you need to call a professional for. Knowing more about your septic system will also help you preserve your tank and can save you the cost of major repairs in the future.
Daily Use and Abuse
People often get used to the flush-and-forget approach to public sewer systems, but septic tanks aren't nearly as forgiving to the individual user. Daily use should be limited to waste water, wash water and the normal contents of a toilet, but there are still some daily habits you'll have to adapt slightly. One of the hardest things to get used to is not using a garbage disposal as frequently, as the food waste can add to the solid mass in your septic tank and require more frequent maintenance.
In addition to limiting the waste you put down your drains you should also be mindful of the cleaning agents you pour out in your sinks, tubs and toilets. Many household cleaners are designed to be anti-bacterial, which can decimate the populations of septic bacteria in your system. Without them, waste isn't digested and solids won't break down to the point that they can pass into the drainage field. Likewise, avoid using detergents with phosphorous or similar chemicals, as these can promote the growth of algae in a closed system.
Determining how frequently your septic system needs service should really be left to a professional who can inspect your tank, look at your drainage field, and identify any special circumstances. Typically, deciding how often to pump a tank is based on the tank's volume, the number of people using it, and the tank's age. An older tank will need to be pumped out more often than a newer one, as its components will have begun wearing down, and a new tank being used by a small household will need pumping less often than one used by a large household.
Regardless of how often a septic contractor recommends pumping out your tank, it should still be inspected on an annual basis by a company like Magnan - NSD Vac Truck Service to check for leaks, blockages, or signs that your drainage field needs to be moved. Just because your tank sees limited use doesn't mean you should skip your inspection.
Properly used, some septic tanks can outlast your house, but that life expectancy is diminished by improper waste disposal, overuse, or general neglect. To avoid the unpleasant experience of digging out an overflowing septic tank, be prepared to give yours the care and service that it needs on an ongoing basis.