A well-maintained septic system can increase your property value. Potential buyers will consider your septic tank’s history, including maintenance records and regular inspections.
Untreated sewage can cause groundwater contamination. It can also cause health issues for people and damage to the environment, such as excessive algae growth in lakes and rivers (causing methemoglobinemia, or blue baby syndrome, in young children).
Septic system maintenance is a small investment that protects your home and the environment. It’s essential to follow these tips for proper septic system maintenance.
Maintaining Your Septic Tank
Septic systems protect public health by treating and disposing of household wastewater to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. Properly functioning septic tanks also preserve the environment by returning treated wastewater to the soil for natural treatment.
A septic system consists of a septic tank and drain field (a leach field). The house sewer drain from home fixtures connects to the underground septic tank, which holds solid waste and scum accumulated from household wastewater.
Septic tanks must be pumped regularly to free them from excessive sludge and scum. You should schedule a septic tank pumping every 3 to 5 years.
Using household cleaners with antibacterial ingredients can hurt your septic system because these chemicals kill the good bacteria that break down waste in the tank. It is best to choose all-natural products without bleach and phosphates. Also, avoid flushing fats, oils, and grease down the toilet. These can clog the pipes and lead to system failure.
Inspecting Your Septic Tank
Septic systems give homeowners autonomy over the waste they produce, but that comes at a cost – they must be inspected and maintained to ensure they are working correctly. Raw sewage can return to the home when they fail, causing lasting odors, stains, and water damage.
Professional septic services will start by checking the baffle walls and sanitary tees to see any deterioration or signs of cracking. Next, the technician will check the distribution box to ensure it is not leaking or clogged.
A septic system inspection is a common add-on to any home inspection and should be performed by a qualified inspector. It is essential when buying a new home because a failing septic system can cause significant problems that can impact health and safety. A good inspection can help the homeowner avoid costly repairs or replacements in the future. A poorly functioning septic system can also affect the home’s property value.
Pumping Your Septic Tank
One of the most critical steps to maintaining your septic system is pumping it regularly. If you don’t do septic pumping, your home could begin to show signs such as sewage backup or foul odors. This is also a problem if you plan on selling your home, as many discerning buyers will want to know that the septic system has been well-maintained and pumped at the proper intervals.
Pumping your septic tank will prevent expensive repairs or premature leach field replacement. It’s like an oil change in your car – the more often it’s done, the less likely you are to end up with costly property damages.
If you’re hosting guests, arranging for your septic tank to be pumped before they arrive is a good idea. The increased use of the septic system will put extra strain on it. It’s also a good idea to have the system inspected while pumped.
Maintaining Your Drainfield
Once the septic tank is pumped, wastewater flows to the drain field, where soil micro-organisms further treat it. Keeping the drain field free of outside debris and clogging is essential.
The drain field should be covered with grass, but you must be careful when planting gardens or trees nearby. The roots of these plants can invade and clog the septic system’s pipes, leading to sewage backups into your home or polluting local groundwater.
Don’t flush pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides), medications, paints, paint thinners, solvents, and excess cleaning products down the drain. These substances can kill the beneficial soil bacteria in the septic system, interfere with initial treatment and travel to and pollute groundwater.
Taking the time for regular septic system maintenance is like changing the oil in your car – it prevents expensive, disruptive breakdowns. A properly maintained septic system can last up to 50 years or more!