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Septic Tank Care and Septic System Maintenance

Septic tank care and septic system maintenance can ensure the hassle free functioning of the sewage system. By taking proper care and maintenance of your septic tank, you not only prevent the hazards of its failure but also increase the life of the system.
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Septic tank is a form of septic sewage system. It is of utmost importance to take care of your septic system and its maintenance. If your septic tank is not working properly to its full efficiency, as a homeowner, you are accountable for maintaining your septic system.
Exercising proper septic system care will prevent your septic system from failing and will help you to sustain your investment in your home. The hazards of failing septic systems can be very worse. It can pollute the ground water that you or your neighbors drink and can contaminate the water of nearby rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Besides causing you headache of its failure, it affects severely the environmental aspects. So, proper septic tank care and maintenance holds the key.
Septic Tank Care
You have to exercise certain standard norms to keep the septic tank working. Clogging, being the main reason behind the failure of system, it should be avoided. The following few measures hold great importance and can ensure your septic tank system working properly.
  • Identify the location of your septic tank and its drain field or leach field. Having a record of the drawing showing its exact location comes handy when pumping or at the time of repairing drain field. Always try to locate a particular fixed landmark to show the distances.
  • Never dump cooking oil or grease or such oily substances in sinks or toilets. As these substances float on water, they pose a threat of clogging the inlet pipes by filling up upper part of septic tank.
  • Never flush cotton buds, sanitary towels or other non-biodegradable products in the system as it results in choking of the system.
  • Grinders or waste macerators should not be disposed as it causes speedy overloading of the system which can ultimately leads to early failure of the system.
  • Never pour chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, concentrated caustic soda or inorganic material like paints, solvents in the system.
  • Don't pour excessive water or the system will get overloaded.
  • Don't introduce septic tank additives or "rejuvenators" in your septic tank, whether they claim to break up sludge or scum or to unclog drain fields, or biologically-based septic additives like septic tank yeast cultures, septic tank bacteria, starter bacteria, or septic tank enzymes. That can actually damage your system, causing frothing and excessive activity and thus preventing normal settling of solid wastes.
  • Clear the roots from trees in the near vicinity of tank as they can rupture the tank resulting in collapsing of system.
  • Keep vehicles off your septic system. Their pressure can yield damage to the pipes and tank, and your system may not drain properly under compacted soil.
  • Do not introduce gutters or basement pipes draining near septic system.
Septic Tank Maintenance
Sludge keeps on amassing in the septic tank bottom, as the system is used. Normally, tanks have been designed in such a way that they should provide enough space to accumulate for more than three years of use by taking account of the total expected numbers of the residents.
Once, the sludge level crosses the safe point, there is a less time for sewage to settle down which results in escape of more solids into drain field. Eventually, infiltration of sludge into the drain or leach field leads to clogging of the absorption area and the system fails. So, periodic inspection of septic tank and pumping out of it becomes the most integral part of septic tank maintenance.
Inspection of Septic tank
Tank should be periodically checked for any visible signs of depressions or low areas in the soil in the vicinity of the septic tank. It may prove dangerous as there may be a possible collapse of the system behind it. If there is an effluent breakout at surface then it can be good indication of leaks or the pressing need for pumping out.
You have to regularly check for the safety of septic tank. If it is collapsed then there is a risk forming a fatal hazard. If broken, it has to be replaced with another cover or at least cover it with help of ply securely.
There are pumping contractors which can help you, but it is your responsibility to supervise and monitor the things. To extract all the accumulated sludge out of the septic tank, the scum layer must be broken up and it should be mixed frequently with the sewage fluid present in the tank. An experienced pumping person does this by stopping the process in between and by re-injecting some of the pumped scum into the septic tank, specifically at the bottom.
You have to make sure that pumping should be done through the large manhole which is located centrally on the tank. In no condition, baffle inspection ports or outlet to the drain field is used for the process of pumping. Pumping through baffle inspection port can damage the baffles which can ultimately result in hampering of absorption activities of drain field.
While the pumping process is going on, it is better to halt in between to check the reverse flow of sewage from drain field to septic tank. This may be the case if drain field is severely clogged and not left with the bearing capacity. Check the conditions of baffles and in case, they are damaged, they must be repaired or replaced. Install risers from central manhole and inspection ports up to the soil surface if you have not placed them previously. They help in periodic inspection.
Once, the cleaning process gets completed it is necessary to wash down its inner sides and bottom to facilitate more close look for better inspection. A garden hose pipe can be used for this purpose. After cleaning, tank should be checked for leaks and if you found any, those should be sealed.
Care and maintenance of the safety tank is of prime importance. You can easily extend the life of your septic tank by adhering to standard norms and rules. Remember, never to open the tanks yourself without wearing protective masks. It is filled with toxic gases and bacteria. If you are family of four, then your septic tank should be pumped every 3 to 5 years of full use. This will help pump out the solids present within the tank. This was all about septic tank care and maintenance. If you are still not sure, you can always seek professional help to clean and maintain the septic system in your home.