Many homeowners take septic system inspection and maintenance for granted over time. They may think that as long as the drains and toilets are functioning well, everything is ok with their septic system. No septic system is maintenance-free and with that in mind, you as a homeowner should schedule the inspection and maintenance of your septic system every 2 or 3 years, depending on your household size and frequency of wastewater disposal. Keeping a regular maintenance and inspection schedule can help save you big bucks from replacement parts, and you are also keeping your living space clean and healthy for a long time. The good thing is that these essential tasks are not that hard to do, and there are pro tips you can find out more about to keep your septic in good condition for many years.
We’ll share here some septic inspection and maintenance tips from the pros, which you can apply to your household septic system.
Know Your Septic System Type
Whether you had your own house built, renting a house, or bought a new house, you must know the type of septic system your household is using. It will come in handy when you do your inspection or when you hire a professional septic service provider. According to the information from septictank.com, there are eight different types of septic systems that households use. These septic systems are as follows:
- Conventional Septic System
- Chamber System
- Drip Distribution System
- Mound System
- Recirculating Sand Filter Septic System
- Evapotranspiration System
- Constructed Wetland System
- Community/ Cluster System
Aside from home septic systems, there are also portable septic system options for those who prefer mobile living like living in an RV. Most RV septic tanks use anaerobic septic tanks, which do not rely on oxygen to break the solid matter in the system but on bacteria and time. Depending on your state’s regulations, you can also connect your RV septic tank to your home’s septic system or a sewage treatment facility to empty its contents.
Locate and Inspect Your Septic System
One of the easy methods of locating your septic system is to check your home’s building plans. This will show the locations of the different structures within your property, including underground structures like your plumbing and septic system. An ocular inspection within your property perimeter can allow you to trace the sewer pipe and the sewer cover.
Once you have located where the septic system is, you can do a non-invasive inspection by surveying the surrounding areas of the system, like the access pipes and absorption area. Check the state of the vegetation cover and near these areas. Lush, green, and fast-growing vegetation over the access pipe or absorption area can be a sign of clogging or leak.
A direct and hands-on inspection can also be done on your septic tank to check if it needs pumping and what are the current levels of the scum and sludge. If you are doing a manual inspection of the septic tank level, make sure that you have a partner or someone to assist you. Septic tanks have high levels of methane, which can cause dizziness, disorientation, or loss of consciousness. To safely check the tank levels, use a 10-foot long 2 × 4 lumber and mark it with measurement lines that are 6 inches apart. This will allow you to measure the levels of the scum and sludge layers through the different marks they leave behind on your measuring pole. When the scum or sludge reaches more than ⅓ of the total contents of the tank, it means that your septic tank needs to be cleaned.
Perform Daily Maintenance of Your Septic System
The easiest way of maintaining your septic system is to use it properly every day. Professional septic service providers would often notice that septic repair and replacement costs spent by homeowners could have been avoided if only they were using their resources properly. Below are some simple tips that septic service professionals often provide.
Efficient Water Use
An individual household member can use an average of 70 gallons daily. Leaks and loose water valves can waste more than 100 gallons of water daily, and most of the wasted water also goes down the drain. Conserving water reduces the strain on the septic system and allows it to operate smoothly. Use high-efficiency toilets, faucets, and showerheads and reduce the frequency of your washing machine use.
Proper Waste Disposal
Most septic system damages are caused by improper use and neglect by homeowners. Keep in mind that what you flush down your toilet, pour down in the sink or wash down in the shower or bath drain all go into your septic system. Toilets should only flush human waste and occasionally, toilet paper and nothing else. Feminine hygiene products, non-flushable wipes, diapers, cat litter, medicines, household chemicals, and cooking oil are just a few of the common items that many of us often flush. Starting from now, avoid flushing these and other materials if you want your septic system to work well for decades.
Protect Your Drainfield
If you don’t want to be haunted by ugly smells or if you don’t want to suddenly step on wet, soggy grass, remember to keep your drainfield protected from damage. Never park your vehicle over your drainfield to avoid straining or damaging it. Also, avoid planting trees and gardens close to your drainfield as roots can interfere or damage the pipes.
Schedule Regular Pumping
The EPA guidelines indicate pumping your septic tank every three years, but the modern septic systems with electrical and mechanical components need a more frequent pumping schedule, preferably once a year. Consult with your septic service technician on how often your system should be pumped.
Clean Your Septic System at Regular Intervals
Solids and debris can accumulate in the drain pipes of your septic system. A good way of maintaining and keeping your system in good condition is to clean the build-up with high-pressure water jetting to avoid clogging the pipes that connect the septic tank to the drainfield.
Introduce Bacteria Additives
This is an affordable and smart maintenance option for households that frequently pour down detergents and other substances that disrupt the microbiological balance of the septic system. Introducing live organic bacteria to the system helps keep pipes clean, odor-free, and working efficiently.
Regular inspection and maintenance can keep your septic system in great operating condition for years. You also get to keep your household clean, and you are also helping the environment in the process. Removing the misconception of septic systems being indestructible and maintenance-free structures helps us to care more about sanitation and environmental conservation. So act now, and have your septic system checked. Your future self will thank you for it.