If you are new to septic tank ownership, then you'll have a few things to learn about septic tank care and maintenance. From inside the house, you can't tell the difference between a home with a sewer line and a home with a septic tank.
However, septic tanks function differently than sewers and require different maintenance and care. Knowing how a septic tank works and what you can do to care for your septic tank can help you prevent problems with your home's drainage system. Here are some septic tank basics to help you care for your septic tank.
Know How a Septic Tank Works
A septic tank is a large underground tank that holds wastewater. When water enters the septic tank, it separates into three layers. Sludge settles to the bottom, wastewater sits in the middle, and fats and oils (called scum) float to the top.
Over time, wastewater is drained out of the tank through a pipe that leads to a part of the yard called the drain field. The soil cleans and filters the water until it eventually enters the groundwater supply.
Pump Your Tank Regularly
Sludge that builds up in the bottom of the septic tank can eventually cause the tank to clog. To prevent this from happening, the tank must be pumped on a regular basis. The frequency with which your tank needs to be pumped depends on its size and the amount of wastewater your home produces.
A tank that is properly sized for your home will likely need to be pumped every three to five years. Larger households may need to have their tank pumped every one to two years. Talk to your septic tank professional to find out how often your tank should be pumped.
Adjust Habits to Prevent Septic Tank Clogs
Pumping your septic tank regularly is not the only way to prevent septic clogs. Other ways that you can keep your tank functioning smoothly include:
- Never flushing medicine down the drain. Medicines can kill bacteria that help break down sludge in the tank.
- Avoiding "flushable" products. Wipes, diapers, kitty litter, tampons, and other products sometimes labeled as "flushable" can fill septic tanks fast.
- Avoiding products like antibacterial soap. Antibacterial soap can kill beneficial bacteria, just like medicines.
- Avoiding use of the garbage disposal, unless it's septic tank safe. Standard garbage disposals fill the tank with food bits — contributing to sludge buildup.
Following these tips can increase the amount of time that your household can go between septic tank pumpings. Following these tips can also prevent septic tank damage.
Watch for Signs of Septic Tank Trouble
If your septic tank is clogging or needs to be pumped, you'll notice signs of trouble. Some red flags to watch out for include:
- Grass over the septic tank is especially green and lush
- Ground over the septic tank is swampy
- Sewage smell in the yard
- Drains make strange gurgling noises
- Lowest drains clog regularly or are slow to drain
- Water from one plumbing fixture flows into another fixture
If you notice any of these signs of trouble, then contact a reputable septic tank repair person. They can help you determine what can be done to fix your tank, and they can also pump the tank if this will help fix the problem.
Contact a Septic Tank Company
If you have more questions about how to care for your home's septic tank, contact a reputable septic tank maintenance company for more information. At Speedy Clean Drain & Sewer, we can answer your septic tank questions and help you maintain your home's septic tank.