Part of being a homeowner is maintenance. Unfortunately a lot of homeowners forget about the maintenance on their septic systems. Here in Wisconsin, homeowners are reminded every 3 years to have their system pumped and inspected. But what can be done between pumpings to keep the septic system in good shape? Here are some tips:
Beware of excessive water use or leaky fixtures. The more the system has to work to keep up with a home’s usage, the quicker it will need attention.
Some clean-water source hookups, such as the sump-pump, can be routed away from the septic. But make sure it doesn’t dispense near the drainfield, adding unnecessary saturation to that area. Keep down-spouts away from this area as well.
Be aware of improper landscaping around the tanks and drainfield. Contact a local knowledgeable landscaper and/or septic service company for suggestions on this.
Avoid excessive use of anti-bacterial cleaners and strong chemicals that find their way down the lines in the sinks, tubs, and toilets. These affect the healthy bacteria in the septic system that it needs in order to do its job. And also realize that medications affect the septic system too. Using a bacterial additive for the system can be very beneficial in these situations.
Keep up with regular maintenance by a licensed pumper. They should be emptying the tanks and looking over all the components, including the drainfield or mound, to make sure all looks good.
If you are a new homeowner, just moved away from city-sewer, or want to educate yourself on your system, here are a few basics to help you out:
- Learn the location of your septic tank and drainfield, especially if your cover is underground. If that’s the case, it will need to be dug up before your pumper comes. (You can have risers installed to alleviate this problem.)
- Your state may require that your system is pumped and/or inspected within a certain amount of time. For example, here in Wisconsin, the requirement is every 3 years. That maintenance is overseen by each county. Any good local septic service will be able to explain how your county handles that requirement and what you will need to do as the homeowner. However, each system is different and it may be wisest to pump more often.
- Keep your system “healthy” by cutting back on antibacterial and antimicrobial cleaning products in the kitchen and bathrooms. Using a monthly bacterial additive can also help in this matter.
- Whenever you suspect a problem with your system, do not hesitate to call a professional. Don’t try to fix it yourself.
Perhaps you’ve seen the influx of information out there about fabric softeners and their toxicity. Have you stopped to wonder if they are also dangerous for your septic system? Here’s something to consider: the chemicals used in these household products can kill the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank. Not sure if you can live without the extra softness in your clothing and towels? Try using half a cup of white vinegar (grain-derived, not petroleum-derived) per load during the rinse cycle. This acts as a natural fabric softener.
And remember there are ways to jump-start that beneficial bacteria in your system! Just ask us which bacterial additive we recommend and how you can get a free sample!