The Do’s and Don’t Do’s of Owning A Septic Tank Home | An Inclusive Guide to Conventional Septic Systems
The National Tank Outlet, a leader in poly storage tanks including plastic septic tanks, has compiled our list of top points and important facts for septic tank do’s and don’ts. Taking proper care, attention and precaution when living in a home with a septic tank is vital to ensuring the system runs right, does not get damaged and is maintained as needed. Review the following do’s and don’ts for the best practices in caring for your home septic tank system.
Septic Tank Do’s
- Monitor and/or limit simultaneous water use flowing to the tank all at one time, as with appliances. Stagger water-using features in the home like washing machines, dish washers and showers, rather than running all at the same time. This helps prevent excessive water surge and system overload that can lead to premature effluent and could impact the septic system’s microbial ecosystem.
- Perform regular septic tank inspections, pumping and cleaning by licensed professionals. Septic system maintenance frequency can vary by state and local regulation, septic tank size, system type, household size and personal use. Some general guidelines recommend every 3 to 5 years.
- Make and keep records of all septic system maintenance and inspections. This is important for homeowners should they choose to sell their home. This is also important for renters, if they are responsible for the maintenance, as it proves due diligence and protection against liability should the septic system experience catastrophic damage or failure.
- Keep accessible the septic tank manway or cover for regular inspections and pumping. Keeping the tank’s access port available and plainly visible eliminates the need for unearthing or discovery events in cases where tank access has been overgrown by vegetation.
- Keep the septic tank and drain field area well-marked and noticeable. If you own property open enough to be driven on, keeping the septic area fenced off or labeled can prevent damages that can occur from vehicles driving over or parking on.
- Evaluate and improve your home’s water efficiency. Upgrade faucets, shower heads, toilets, etc. to more conservative types, such as aeration models. This can help limit the amount of wastewater ending up at the tank, reduce water bills, extend time between maintenance and is good for your local environment and water service supplier.
- Consider updating and/or upgrading your septic tank. If the septic tank is fairly old, updating to a modern septic tank can be a pre-emptive measure to avoid future problems. If selling the home, upgrading the septic tank can improve real estate value and contribute to house selling points.
- Respond quickly to signs of septic tank and/or system problems. Common symptoms that can indicate a problem or concern include loose, moist soil, visible wetness or puddles, persistent sewage odor outside or inside, backed up drains, and gurgling from the toilet when flushing.
Septic Tank Don’ts
The following list outlines the most important activities not to do in daily living for homes with septic tanks.
- Don’t send any trash or rubbish to the septic tank by flushing it down the toilet. The only item not human waste that should enter a septic tank is toilet paper. Every other human-use item should be thrown in the trash. Common item examples that end up in a septic tank include cigarette butts, diapers, baby wipes, cotton swabs, feminine care items, and pieces of plastic such as from packaging.
- Don’t put chemicals down sinks or drains. Only chemicals used for cleaning and in their limited, recommended amounts should enter septic tanks. Approved examples include cleaners for toilets, showers and surfaces. Excessive amounts and disposal can seriously damage the septic’s microbiological system.
- Don’t put food into the septic tank. Do not put food materials, scraps, coffee grounds, etc. down sinks or toilets. This includes fats and greases. Use of a garbage disposal is acceptable for septic systems but can increase tank pumping frequency or the required septic tank volume for new constructions.
- Don’t cover your septic tank or drain field (also known as leach field) with structures. Examples include concrete, asphalt, decks and buildings. Covering the septic system can entirely restrict access for maintenance and can significantly inhibit the functionality of the drain field.
- Don’t plant or allow deep-rooted vegetation to grow over the septic tank and system drain field. Deep root systems, especially from trees, can cause cracks in septic tanks, displace drain field piping and/or inhibit soil permeability for effluent.
- Don’t excessively water the septic drain field. A common example is lawn watering associated with a sprinkler system. It is recommended to avoid sprinkler systems over your septic field unless watering is conservative and monitored.
- Don’t strain the system by running the washing machine repetitively all day. While catching up on laundry is sometimes a fact of life, balancing loads out over 2 days or more is healthier for the septic tank in the amount of water and laundry soap input to the system.
- Don’t enter an active or used septic tank for any reason, ever. In addition to a serious drowning concern, septic tanks contain harmful, noxious odors that serious care should be taken to avoid. This includes sticking one’s head inside.