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How to Maintain Your Septic Tank

Mom, Dad, and two children laying in the grassInspections and maintenance are done on other systems in your home, but have you thought about the upkeep of the septic tank? Septic system maintenance is very important, however, it’s not complicated and it doesn’t need to be expensive. There are a few key factors to consider when doing maintenance on a septic system:

  • A septic system should be inspected every three years by a professional. It also should be pumped out every three-to-five years.
  • Make sure the tank’s water is being used efficiently.
  • It’s also important to make sure that waste is being properly disposed of and that the drain field is well-maintained.

A system that features electrical float switches, pumps, or other mechanical parts, should be checked once a year. The frequency of septic pumping can be a bit trickier. How often you have the system pumped is based on the size of a household, the amount of wastewater that is generated, the volume of solids in the wastewater, and the size of the tank.

A professional will check for leaks and examine the layers in your tank to determine the best course of maintenance. You should always keep a record of all maintenance performed on your tank, along with any other service you do in your home. The professional should provide you with a detailed report that includes the condition of the tank and recommended repairs. Keep track of these reports.

RELATED: Sump pump maintenance basics

How Do I Know If the Water Is Being Used Efficiently?

The average water use per day in a typical single-family home is approximately 70 gallons per person. Leaks in a toilet or sink can account for double that amount. All water sent down through a home’s pipes ends up in the septic system. Conserving water can make things easier on the system. The efficient use of water improves the operation of any system. There are many simple ways to conserve water including to limit the use of water per person in the household and to install high-efficient toilets, showerheads, faucets, washers, and dishwashers.

RELATED: 9 water-saving devices to install in your home

What Are the Best Ways to Dispose of Waste?

Everything that goes down a drain eventually ends up in the septic system. This includes the grease you accidentally poured into the sink, the hair and soap scum that builds up in the shower or sink, and, of course, the waste that goes in every toilet. It’s best to remember that sinks and toilets are not trash cans. Never flush cooking oil or grease, “flushable” wipes, cigarette butts, paint, feminine hygiene products, harmful chemicals, coffee grounds, cat litter, dental floss, etc. Much of the same holds true for the sink or any drain — avoid harmful chemicals, grease, paints, and solvents as there are better ways to dispose of these items.

RELATED: 10 things you should never flush down your toilet

How Do I Maintain the Drain Field?

Never park or drive on the drain field. Don’t plant trees or other greenery near a drain field as you don’t want roots, weeds or other items growing into the septic system. Also, keep other roof drains or drainage systems, piping, and sump pumps away from the drain field.

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