Your Best Defense: Maintenance
Your septic system may be the most overlooked utility in your home. However, with proper care and maintenance, your septic system can work efficiently for 25 to 30 years. Failing septic systems are very costly to repair or replace. The minimal amount of preventative maintenance that systems require costs very little compared to the cost of a new system. Septic system maintenance is often compared to automobile maintenance, as only a little cost and effort on a regular basis can save a lot of money, and also significantly prolong the life of your system.
Your Septic System: How it Works
A typical system consists of two major components: the septic tank and the absorption field. The primary purpose of the septic tank is the separate the solids from the liquids, and to promote partical breakdown of sewage by microorganisms naturally present in wastewater. The solids, known as sludge, collect of the bottom of the tank, while the scum floats on the top of the liquid. The scum and sludge remain in the tank and should be pumped out periodically. If not pumped out, the solids will pass from the tank to the absorption field, clogging the field, thus leading to septic failure.
Tips to Avoid Trouble
DO have your tank cleaned every 1-2 years by a licensed septic contractor.
DO practice water conservation. Limit clothes laundering to one to two loads per day, instead of several loads in one day.
DON'T allow anyone to drive or park over any part of the system. The area over the absorption field should be left undisturbed with only a mowed grass covering.
DON'T poison your septic system and the groundwater by pouring harmful chemicals down the drain. Use bleach, disinfectants, and toilet bowl cleaners sparingly, as they can kill the beneficial bacteria that naturally treat your wastewater.
DON'T flush diapers, cotton swabs, condoms, cigarette butts, cat litter, coffee grounds, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, and other kitchen or bathroom items, as these can clog and potentially damage septic system components.