A septic system is like a miniature sewage treatment center on your property. And while it’s not pleasant to think about, if your septic tank fails it could cost you thousands of dollars to replace or repair it.
Fortunately, you can easily prevent most issues with a septic system with common sense maintenance.
Septic tank process
Depending on how big your tank/tanks are, and how many people are living in your home, once a septic tank has been pumped it will fill back up with liquid to its normal level in a short time – typically a few days to a week.
This is completely normal; the solids in your tank will fall to the bottom, while the liquids will rise. As the tank is filled with water, the liquid inside your tank is pushed upward, out the exit pipe and into your system’s absorption area.
Also known as a leach field or absorption area, this is an area in your yard which is designed to absorb the wastewater from the septic tank where it can be absorbed back into the water table after being filtered.
If the liquid in your tank is fuller than its normal level this indicates you may have an issue with your drain field that will require a septic professional’s help in resolving.
Maintenance and prevention
Create a map that shows where your system and the drain field are located to help prevent your underground tank from being crushed by anything heavy placed over it such as a car.
Have your septic tank pumped out every 3 to 5 years to keep it from getting too full and backfilling into your home. Don’t forget to keep a record of maintenance done to your septic, such as when it was last pumped.
It is important to not pour grease down the drain.
Don’t throw anything that won’t break down such as cigarette butts, paper towels, sanitary products, pharmaceuticals, paint thinners, etc. down your drains.
Save your money and don’t pour septic system additives down the drain. Most professionals advise that the bacteria in your tank are self-reproducing so they typically only need to be added to brand new septic systems.
DIY or Call in a Professional
Are your drains slow?
Is water coming out of your pipes, even though your faucets are turned off? While some of these issues may be something you could handle yourself, sometimes you need to call in a professional.
By looking inside your tank to find out the liquid level you’ll know whether you need to call a plumber or a septic professional.
Use the following process to assess the issue and find out if you need to call someone to help resolve your septic problems.
Check the cleanout.
If you’re experiencing a backup in your home check the cleanout (if you have access to one) to see if there’s any backup present. A cleanout is usually a 4” PVC pipe with a removable cap that’s somewhere in your yard or sometimes a basement.
If there’s visible backup in your cleanout, there’s a good chance the problem is with the septic system. You’ll need to remove the lid to the septic tank to see if the liquid level is normal or if it’s overfull.
If it’s normal, you probably need to contact a plumber.
If it’s overfull, you could have issues with your drain field.
Do you have smells?
Typically, a bad smell inside your home means you’ve got an issue with venting or plumbing inside your home. If you don’t have any backup inside your home, or with your septic system, it’s probably something your plumber should check out.