Spring is here, and that can mean a lot of rain. It is common for the groundwater table to rise this time of year, and that can mean problems for your septic system if it is not in proper working order! If you notice water backing up or funny smells coming from your house’s plumbing, water pooling over the drain fields in the yard, or the smell of sewage coming from your property’s ground, it may be a sign of a failing system. A septic system does not last forever. Maintaining it with proper pumping, cleaning, and homeowner management will help prolong the life of your system. A septic tank should be pumped about every two years, or more often if it is heavily used. This is because sludge (solids) and scum (grease) build up in the tank, and they do not exit it. They need to be pumped out. A neglected system will be more costly than a properly maintained one in the long run, and it is highly recommended that you stay ahead of the game with pumping and cleaning before your system clogs up. Many things affect the frequency of recommended pumping. If more than 3 people live in your household (the U.S. average), you use a garbage disposal often, or you think you simply use more water than the Average Joe, you should call a septic professional to get a personalized schedule for you. As an on-site sewage disposal system owner, it is your responsibility to care for it. Know some helpful tips on caring for your system.
- Conserve water to avoid overloading your septic system.
- Have your septic tank pumped regularly.
- Maintain adequate vegetative cover over the absorption field.
- Make sure a riser (or manhole) is installed over the tank, providing easy access for measuring and pumping solids. (Note: All tanks should have two manholes, one positioned over the inlet device and one over the outlet device.)
- Keep your septic tank cleanouts and manholes accessible for pumping and inspections.
- Do not flush baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, cigarette butts, diapers, or similar objects.
- Do not dispose of grease or cooking oils down the drain.
- Do not use septic tank additives. These harsh chemicals can kill the beneficial bacteria that treat your wastewater.
- Do not drive or park vehicles or heavy objects over the underground tank and its drain field.
Above all else – DON’T wait for signs of failure. Check the septic system regularly.