8 Essential Tips for a Healthy Septic System

Around 21 million households in the US rely on septic systems to manage household wastewater. To ensure your septic tanks remain fully functional and avoid expensive repairs, adopting routine maintenance practices is crucial. Here’s a straightforward guide outlining what you should and shouldn’t do for effective septic system maintenance:

Septic System Dos

1. Regular Inspections

Schedule periodic inspections, cleaning, and emptying to prolong your system’s life. Different systems have varying septic tank cleaning frequencies—consider gravity systems (every three to five years) and pressure distribution systems (every one to three years).

2. Pump Out When Needed

Based on tank size and household water usage, you should plan on pumping your septic tank as shown in the schedule from Pennsylvania State College.  These are estimates and your septic tank cleaning may need to be done more often.  Using an experienced septic company in your area means they can make a recommendation on the pumping frequency based on your specific usage.

septic pumping frequency chart

3. Conserve Water

Manage household water usage to prevent overloading your system, which can lead to frequent pumping.  Low flow fixtures and managing peak usage will help prolong the life of your septic system.  You should avoid using large amounts of water where possible.  For instance, spread your laundry out over the week instead of doing it all in one day.

4. Trust Certified Experts

Ensure certified professionals handle repairs and maintenance, an experienced septic company can save you money and headaches by catching problems early.  Pumping your tank may sound expensive but doing it regularly will extend the life of your lateral lines and your aerobic system pump.

Septic System Don'ts

1. Avoid Flushing Solids

Refrain from flushing solids or grease down drains, as they can contribute to sludge buildup, impacting your system’s efficiency.  This includes using a garbage disposal for large items or flushing trash down the toilet.

2. Steer Clear of Harsh Chemicals

Chemicals destroy essential bacteria and can corrode concrete septic tanks. Dispose of chemicals properly through local waste disposal services.  Be particularly careful with drain cleaning chemicals.  Using an enzyme or biological drain cleaner is preferable over a chemical one like Drain-O.  Strong medications can also kill the bacteria in the tank.  Cancer and tuberculosis treatments are some of the most common that will kill off the bacteria in the septic tank.  Ask your local septic company for advice if you’re concerned about your medications.

3. Protect Drainfield Areas

Avoid heavy vehicles or landscaping over lateral lines, as this can lead to system failure and damage to tanks and pipes. Avoid planting gardens over septic tanks to ensure easy access for maintenance.

large tree growing over a septic tank

4. Skip Additives

Additive companies have done a great job convincing people they should be adding something to their septic tank.  You don’t.  The EPA and multiple colleges have released research stating the additives are not needed and, in some cases, can actually harm your septic system.  This includes store-bought and folklore type septic tank treatments.  Such as milk, yeast, hamburger, dog food or any other items.  Usually, the only thing your tank needs is what you flush down the toilet every day.  The only exception to this is if someone in your household is taking strong medications.  In that case, discuss your situation with your local septic expert.

Remember, never compromise on maintenance. Adapting to a septic system from municipal sewers might require adjustments, but these tips can keep your tanks operational for years. For expert guidance on septic tank service, reach out to Cyclone Septics.

Prioritize your system’s health with these tips for maintaining your aerobic system efficiently. For further details on septic tank service and maintenance, you can read more septic tips from the EPA.

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