septic truckIf you have recently moved to a rural area, your home might not be serviced by a sewer system. Instead, you will have a septic tank system to handle waste disposal. In other words, everything that goes down your drain or gets flushed down a toilet is handled by a septic tank that is buried somewhere in your yard. You might have heard horror stories about septic systems, but with proper care, they can last for decades.

Here are several guidelines on how to maintain your septic system and help it last longer.

Get it inspected annually

Do-it-yourself guides are available that tell you how to inspect your septic system and what to look for, but really, who wants to inspect their own septic system? Hire a professional company to come in and give it an annual inspection. It will give you peace of mind, make sure the system is maintained properly and prevent a backup or other potential disaster.

Don’t overload it with water

Too much water at one time will overload the septic system. At best, it can dilute the balance of biologics that keep the system functioning properly; at worst, it will cause a back up and into your home. Use low-flow toilets and restrictors on your shower heads. Stagger laundry loads, so less water is drained at one time. Also consider the impact that excess water has on landscaping. Have irrigation and sprinkler systems drain away from the septic system. Do the same thing with gutters and downspouts. And never drain a pool or hot tub into or toward the septic system.

Don’t pour chemicals down your drain

You can use normal amounts of laundry detergents, bleach and drain cleaners without an issue. You can’t pour paint, pesticides, antifreeze or other toxic chemicals down the drain. The septic system contains a fragile bacterial system that processes waste. You don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that ecosystem.

Don’t pour any solids or grease down the drain

Don’t dump anything solid into the toilets or drains except human waste and standard toilet paper. That means no cigarette butts, paper towels, disposable diapers or coffee grounds. Even if a product says it is flushable, it may cause issues with your septic system. Also, no grease or other semi-solids should be poured down the drain. Doing so will fill the tank up much quicker than it normal.

Don’t install a garbage disposal

Garbage disposals are a modern convenience that many people take for granted. But the purpose of a garbage disposal is to grind up solid waste and flush it down the drain. As mentioned above, this will lead to filling the system prematurely and often causes backups. In many jurisdictions, installing a garbage disposal is against local plumbing codes. But whether it is or isn’t, just don’t do it.

Have it pumped every five years

Have your septic tank checked every year. The exact timing will vary with use and how large your house and family are. Pumping out a septic tank is a specialized task that should only be done by a professional who is trained to do so and has the right equipment. Ask the person doing the pumping what the buildup of sludge looks like, so you can better determine exactly when to get it pumped the next time.

If you are accustomed to a sewer system, you may be leery of buying a home on a septic system. But a properly maintained system, along with a few minor changes in what you allow to go down your drains, will make it a seamless adjustment. If you already have a septic system, Champion Plumbing  can provide septic system services that will keep your septic system running at optimum performance.