Friday, April 5, 2013

How Often Does My Septic Tank Need to Be Cleaned?

Regular maintenance is most important thing you can do to keep your septic tank working well for as long as possible. Unfortunately, many homeowners with septic tanks believe they don't need to pump out the tank or do anything, really, as long as the system seems to be working well. The truth is this can be a very costly mistake.

Over time, solid material will settle to the bottom, creating a layer of sludge, while lightweight material floats to the top as scum. A well-designed septic tank can store up to five years of sludge. If it's allowed to accumulate past this point, sewage doesn't have any room to settle before it leaves the tank and more solid waste will escape into your soil absorption system (SAS). When this becomes severely clogged, it can't absorb liquid as it enters your septic tank and your plumbing will back up and wastewater will start to come to the surface.

Reasons to Maintain Your Septic System

Maintaining your septic system is one of the biggest ways to save money as a homeowner as a failing septic system becomes very expensive to repair or replace and this is usually due to poor maintenance. Septic systems that become unusable or improperly maintained can even be a liability or lower your home's value. Maintenance also protects your health and the environment.

It's important to hire a professional Fontana plumber to regularly pump the septic tank. Ideally, this should be done every 3 years if you don't have a garbage disposal and every year if you do. Once you've hired a plumber, they'll need to send a copy of their report to your local Board of Health in most cases.

Other Tips:

  • Avoid adding products to your septic tank that claim to reduce the bacteria as septic tanks naturally breed bacteria. The best thing to do is have the tank professionally cleaned by a plumber as these products simply aren't effective in the long-run.
  • The worst thing to put into your septic tank is grease, which can cause clogs in your sewer pipes.
  • Have your septic system evaluated every year to avoid problems down the line.
  • Don't divert a basement sump pump or roof drain into your septic system as you want to put as little water into it as possible.
  • The more often you use your garbage disposal, the more often your tank needs to be pumped. Limit the use of your garbage disposal if possible.

Image: Sustainable Sanitation/Flickr

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