4 Easily Avoidable Septic System Problems

While the need to pump a septic tank varies by use, most septic tanks are designed to only need service once every few years. However, overuse or misuse of your home’s septic system can lead to a system backup, clog, or flood. Septic system problems are easily avoided though by knowing what is considered regular use. Here are four easy ways to ensure your next pump is a result of natural need and not costly, time consuming septic tank misuse.

1. Use water efficiently

Look at the diagram below:

Septic tanks are pretty much-holding tanks that break down biodegradable waste and filter it out of the tank as bacterially cleaned waste water. However, as non-biodegradable sludge fills the septic tank, there is less room for waste water to fill the tank. Even with a moderate amount of sludge in your tank, heavy system use can overfill the tank with waste water forcing solid waste out of the system before it’s had time to break down, clogging your pipes or backing up your system. To prevent this backup, use water efficiently. Spread out washing machine uses instead of doing all the family’s laundry in one day, take shorter showers, and install low flow shower heads. All water conservation efforts reduce the strain on your septic system.

2. Don't flush non-biodegradable waste material into your septic tank

Speaking of space in the septic tank, all non-biodegradable material settles on the bottom with the sludge, making less space for waste water and waste material. Natural waste needs time to sit in the septic tank and break down. As a result, the tank is regularly full of waste materials and needs extra space to take in more while biodegrading what’s already there. The more non-biodegradable material in the tank, the further the pipes will have back-up to hold all the excess waste. Take up too much space in the tank and you'll be facing a clog. Ensure the life of your tank by only flushing natural waste and toilet paper into your septic tank.

3. Keep harsh chemicals out of your septic tank

Pesticides, solvents, motor oil, paint thinners, and other harsh chemicals are toxic and should never make their way into your septic system. These chemicals will kill the bacteria needed to break down waste, and then filter it into your drain fields soil, killing the surrounding plant life. Never use your septic system to drain these chemicals. They will destroy your system and your yard.  

4. Avoid using too many phosphate-heavy substances like detergent

Detergent and other phosphates act as fertilizer to algae that grows in septic systems. Too much algal growth blocks filters in the distribution pipes of your system, and can lead to a backup. Make sure to not over use detergents in your washing machine, and only use liquid or gel soaps in your dishwasher - they are phosphate free.

By minding these four tips you’ll avoid the most common forms of septic tank misuse, and ensure that you get the most out of your tanks natural life.