Everything You Need To Know To Avoid A Septic Scourge

When our family quickly began outgrowing our home, my husband and I couldn't decide whether to add onto our current home or move into a larger one. One day, when we were checking the local area looking for "home for sale" signs, we saw a sign we couldn't take our eyes off -- there was a large plot of land for sale for a great price in a great location. We had never thought of building our own home before, but after a little research, we realized that it wasn't as costly as we thought, especially considering the great deal we got on the land. The entire process was a learning experience, but thankfully, the building team was very pleasant and helpful. We now love our new home, and I am excited to share our experience on our new blog. I also plan to post many planning and construction tips!

Everything You Need To Know To Avoid A Septic Scourge

18 November 2014
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles


It's easy to forget about your septic tank. You can't see it or hear it, and it does its job without complaint most of the time. Neglecting your septic tank can result in a major mishap, though, so you would do well to keep it in the back of your mind. Just like any other part of your home, your septic tank needs maintenance from time to time. Here you will learn how to care for it so it can continue to take care of you without major problems.

Yearly Maintenance

Septic systems need to be inspected each year by a licensed professional. During an inspection, the contractor will make sure the tank is not too full, make sure the drainfield is in working condition, and inspect the tank itself for cracks or holes. In addition, the inspector will check to make sure the layers of scum and sludge (lighter materials and oils on top of solids and heavier materials) are in proper proportions. 

Your tank will need to be pumped at least every three years, more if you use a garbage disposal. Your inspector can help you determine how often your system requires septic pumping.

Outdoor Living Maintenance

Believe it or not, your landscaping and outdoor living choices can impact the function of your septic tank. Deciding to install a hot tub, for instance, can place increased strain on the system. The amount of water in a hot tub drained all at once into a septic tank can overload the system. Instead, cool the water and drain it into the yard, but away from the drainfield. Likewise, make sure all your downspouts are directed away from the septic tank and drainfield to keep the system running smoothly.

As far as landscaping goes, stay away from trees, shrubs, and any other plants with deep roots when deciding what to plant around the septic tank and drainfield. Deep roots can grow into the tank or pipes, and create leaks. Instead, stick with grass over the tank and drainfield.

Everyday Maintenance

You can reduce the number of times you need to pump your system and prevent unnecessary strain with a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle. 

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals whenever possible. These can disrupt the necessary bacterial activity in the tank and create more need for pumping. Instead, use mild soap and water solutions, white vinegar, baking soda, and natural cleaners whenever possible.
  • Conserve water. Install faucets and toilets that consume less water, and avoid letting the faucet run while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. If you have a water softener, make sure it is not draining its overflow into the septic tank.
  • Don't flush anything that doesn't naturally end up in the toilet. Use septic safe toilet paper, and never flush cat litter, diapers or feminine hygiene products.
  • Avoid the use of additives. At best they are an unnecessary waste of money and at worst they can cause serious damage to the system. Products that contain bacteria, enzymes and yeast are unnecessary, as these materials occur naturally in septic systems. Products containing chemicals can disrupt bacterial activity and corrode the system.

You might be tempted to forget about your system, or ignore it because of the dirty job it does. Don't give in to that temptation. Proper care and maintenance of your septic system will prevent major damages and septic system overflow and backup, which can be an expensive, time consuming and utterly disgusting problem. Making a few simple changes to your routine, and staying on top of septic system maintenance will ensure you have a flawless system for years to come.