While maintaining a home’s septic system may feel daunting, you can and should give it the attention it needs to stay functional. Taking care of your septic system isn’t all that complicated and doesn’t even have to be costly. But avoiding proper care could lead to high costs in the long run as replacing a septic system usually involves digging it out of the soil, which can be very expensive.
To save time and money, let’s take a quick look at how a septic system works to get a grasp on what keeps it running and healthy.
How A Septic System Works
A septic system is essentially two mechanical pieces: the tank and the drain field. The tank takes on wastewater, often from the bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen drains. When that wastewater drains into the tank, the solidified parts of the waste sink to its bottom, which eventually forms a layer of particles there. Meanwhile, lighter waste elements, like grease, float toward the top, and this creates a layer of surface scum. The separation of these layers takes about a day for each incoming supply of wastewater.
Between the layers of surface scum and sludge at the bottom, water forcefully pushes past and exits into the drain field. Eventually, bacteria begin to eat at the two layers, and this actually prevents the top and bottom from growing too big too fast. However, bacteria can’t always keep up with the incoming volumes of wastewater entering the tank. When this happens, impurities often get pushed into the drain field. To prevent these two layers from growing too much, it’s a good idea to pump a septic tank every three to five years.
But that’s not the only way to keep your system maintained, and it’s important to understand how you can extend the life of your home’s septic system by following a few easy tips:
Avoid Overloading The Tank and Drain Field
Most household members use about 70 gallons of water each day. But it only takes one small leak or an over-running toilet to waste up to 200 more gallons of water every day. This could more than double how much water a house with two people uses. When you consider the amount of small leaks that might occur at the same time within homes in a given area, the excess wasted water can put a substantial strain on local water sources and even drain fields.
Inspect And Pump Often
Most household septic systems should undergo a professional inspection at least every three years. Household septic tanks in particular are usually pumped between every three and five years. Alternative, and often more complex systems with electrical pumps, mechanical components, and float switches should be inspected more frequently, usually once a year.
In general, there are four major factors that influence how frequently septic pumping should occur:
- Total wastewater generated
- Household size
- Volume of solids within wastewater
- How big the septic tank is
Avoid Using Excessive Water Or Too Many Household Chemicals
Track and conserve your home’s water and usage. Releasing more water into a septic system than it can handle will cause it to back up and potentially break down.
You should feel free to use common amounts of household detergents, drain cleaners, and other at-home chemicals without disturbing the bacterial activity in the septic tank. However, avoid putting rough chemicals, like paintbrush cleaners and paint strippers too frequently into your drains to keep your septic system healthy.
Use A Water-Efficient Toilet
While it may surprise some, about 25 to 30 percent of all a household’s water use is a direct result of using the toilet. For instance, in older dwellings toilets are often equipped with reservoirs that take about 3.5 to 5.0 gallons. However, newer homes are usually more equipped for efficiency, using only 1.6 gallons at every flush.
In total, that’s more than a 50 percent water savings over older toilet models! If your toilet happens to be old and built with a big reservoir, you can probably have it replaced with a modern, higher–efficiency model to save money and reduce the amount of waste produced in your household.
Call The Plumbing Works
If any problems come up with your septic system, or if you just have questions related to maintaining it or scheduling a checkup, feel free to contact your local Lancaster, PA plumbers! Should your home require more than a speedy DIY repair, The Plumbing Works is ready to help! Schedule your appointment online today.