How to Care for Septic Tanks

Caring for your septic tank can save you headaches and hassles in the future. Although you can't control every problem that may occur, you can cut your chances down by some preventative techniques. Some ways to care for your septic tank are to pump and inspect regularly, practice water conservation and avoid dumping harsh chemicals and grease down your drain or toilet.

A black septic tank halfway buried in dirt outside
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How to Care for Septic Tanks

Pump and Inspect Septic Tank

On average, a household septic tank system should be inspected every year to every three years. Depending on which professional you ask, they may recommend different times. You should get your septic tank pumped at least every three to five years.

Septics that are considered alternative systems with mechanical components, pumps or electrical float switches should be inspected every year. A schedule for inspecting and pumping a septic tank will vary from home to home. For example, four prime factors indicate how often you should pump your septic, including household size, septic size, the volume of solids in wastewater and total wastewater generated.

Be Mindful About Water Conservation

Watching how much water you use is not only ideal for your water bill if you have one, but it's also beneficial to your septic system. Conserving your water helps the function and longevity of your septic system, saving you money so you can keep your septic longer.

Septic tanks are vital for separating incoming waste into three different layers. Heavy solids will sink to the bottom, forming a sludge layer. Lighter solids, such as toilet paper, oils, fats and grease, will float to the top and become trapped in the tank by an outlet tree to form a scum later. The last layer is a clearer liquid in the center of the tank that goes to the secondary tank.

The point of the tank is to trap as many solids as possible so they don't damage your secondary treatment. To ensure your tank is meeting these expectations, it needs retention time. The retention time means how long the liquid remains in the tank. It's distinguished by taking the volume of the tank while dividing it by the flow of water. When the retention time takes longer, it takes more time for incoming solids to separate. When you reduce the water you use, the retention time of your septic tank will perform better.

Avoid Chemicals and Grease

After cooking a meal, you may be tempted to dump the grease down your kitchen sink. Whether you run water down with it or not, you are risking a potential clog or severe damage in your septic system. As grease, fats and oils solidify, it creates a problem called septic backup. When this issue arises, wastewater from your home can't travel to your septic tank, meaning it will back up into your toilets, tubs and sinks.

Grease isn't the only issue. You may have heard of people using harmful chemicals in their septic as they think it will deodorize and keep it clean. By using a chemical-based additive, you are adding to the potential harm. Most chemical-based additives have corrosive ingredients, such as sulfuric acid. This additive can eat the interior of your septic tank, causing damage.

Heather Burdo

Heather Burdo

Heather Burdo is a seasoned writer with six years of experience, including home improvement topics. Her passion is helping homeowners with tips and tricks through content.