Preventing Problems With Your Septic System

Posted on: 13 May 2016

The best approach to septic system maintenance often involves preventative measures, since this is usually less expensive and doesn't require fixing something that's broken. Both interior and exterior maintenance should be addressed, and besides regular cleanouts, it's a good idea to identify what you can do to keep everything flowing smoothly. Not only will this help you avoid costly repairs, but it will also go a long way toward preventing catastrophic failures.  

From the Inside Out

Maintenance for your septic system from inside your home involves simply being mindful of what you're putting down your drains. Anything that isn't normally flushable shouldn't end up in a toilet, such as cotton swabs or paper towels, but there are some easily overlooked issues as well. For example, food waste should be avoided at all costs. Even with a septic system approved disposal you should still minimize what you scrape off your plates into the drain.

It's not always solids that cause problems in a septic system either, and some of the liquids that end up in waste water lines can hamper performance. Avoid anti-bacterial products that can destroy the septic bacteria necessary for your tank to process solid waste, especially bleach and some hand soaps. Similarly, dishwasher detergents containing phosphates can lead to congestion within the system as this compound has been linked to algae blooms within closed water systems.

From the Outside In

While it might not seem like there's much that can disrupt the function of your septic system from the outside, it's a good idea to bear in mind that there are several factors at play underground. Over-compacting of the soil, improper drainage and the encroachment of vegetation can all hinder or damage your septic system. Keeping an eye on these things and taking steps to prevent them from causing serious problems are essential to your preventative plan.

Avoid building structures or parking vehicles of any kind on or near your septic system's components. If you live in a rural area, make sure you regularly prune back undergrowth and clear large trees that might send roots into your drainage field or under your septic tank. Finally, be aware of standing water that occurs and be mindful of its proximity to your septic system. If it's close by and has an odor to it, you may have a drainage issue or a burst line. 

While the most important maintenance task for a septic system is scheduled cleaning-outs, there are several other things you can do to prolong its life. Walk your yard once a month, especially in the vicinity of your septic system, and be mindful of how your drains are used. You'll have fewer problems to deal with, and more time to address them before they become catastrophic.