3 Tips to Save Money on Septic Maintenance
Septic system maintenance doesn’t have to be the burden many homeowners feel it is. With a little planning, your system can work well for you for decades. Septic systems are their own ecosystems, much like your digestive system. With this thought in mind, explore our 3 tips for maintaining your system for a healthy, long-living septic system.
Tip 1: Don’t flush certain items
There are certain foods you may avoid in your diet as you know they may upset your stomach. Like our personal eating habits, a septic system needs certain items kept out of them or they can have problems or fail. The main items you never want to flush or put down the drain into your septic system are: baby wipes, disposable diapers, paper towels, bandages, cigarette butts, floss, cat litter, condoms, feminine products, paint and paint thinner, large amounts of bleach, cooking fats and oils. You can see the full list here.
These items not only cause a clog but also disrupt the living ecosystem of bacteria that keep your tank working. The main function of this bacteria is to break down the solids in the tank, so if they are killed off with a strong chemical the chance of harming your system is greatly increased. While some septic professionals say you can still flush some of these items, like baby wipes, you will need to pump your system more often. We suggest avoiding flushing or pouring any of these products down the drain so you can save your time and money plus keep your system healthy!
Tip 2: Keep plants away from the drain field
Many times when our licensed septic professionals inspect a system, especially an older system, they find root infiltration in the drain field. This means roots from nearby plants and trees have made their way into the pipes, distribution boxes, and other components of the drain field. Root infiltration can cause a drainfield failure as they break and clog pipes. One of the best ways to save money and avoid a large costly construction project in your drain field is to keep your plants and trees planted away from your system. We recommend shallow grass be the only thing on top of your whole system, especially the drain field.
Tip 3: Don’t wait until an emergency to schedule service
Like an annual physical from the doctor, septic systems do best with routine maintenance. A common myth is that septic systems do not need to be inspected or pumped, ever. This is a harmful myth and many times the homeowners that use this advice find their new system in failure within a decade. For a long living system conduct routine maintenance and pumping every 3-5 years (on average this can be more or less frequent if you have more or less than 4 people in a 3 bedroom home). Additionally, some septic companies may give you a discount if you are flexible in scheduling your routine pumping. Don’t wait until your system is backing up into your home or your drain field is a soggy mess to have your system pumped and inspected.
Maintaining your septic system just by watching what you put down the drain, what you plant near it, and regularly pumping your tank can save you thousands of dollars in construction and emergency service. Remember, the best way to think of your septic system maintenance is to consider how you treat your own digestive system. A little planning and preventative maintenance go a long way!
This article was originally published in April 2016 by Speedy Septic on the Angie’s List Experts Blog.