Septic tank systems are often taken for granted. People don’t think about them until something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, many homeowners make common mistakes that can cause their septic system to fail. Septic tanks are important for two reasons: they protect public health by reducing water pollution and they save money by treating wastewater on-site.
Here are seven standard septic system errors to avoid:
1. Not enough maintenance
Septic tanks need to be pumped out every three to five years to remove the sludge that accumulates at the bottom of the tank. If the sludge isn’t removed, it will eventually clog the tank and cause it to fail.
You need proper maintenance at least once a year, depending on the size of your tank and the number of people in your household. These are some things you should do to maintain your septic system:
- Pump out the septic tank every three to five years
- Inspect the tank and leach field for signs of damage or leaks
- Repair any damage or leaks immediately
2. Too much water
If too much water enters the septic tank, it can overload the system and cause it to fail. To avoid this, don’t use more water than the system can handle.
The rule of thumb is this: For every gallon of water that goes into the septic tank, one gallon should be discharged from the leach field. So, if you have a 1,000-gallon septic tank and you use 500 gallons of water per day, you should only discharge 250 gallons per day from the leach field.
3. Disposing of hazardous materials in the septic system
Hazardous materials like chemicals, paint, oil, and antifreeze can damage the septic tank and leach field. They should never be disposed of in the septic system. You need to dispose of these materials properly:
- Chemicals: Take them to a hazardous waste disposal facility
- Paint: Dry it out and put it in the trash
- Oil: Recycle it or take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility
- Antifreeze: Recycle it or take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility
4. Flushing things that shouldn’t be flushed
People often flush things that they think will just “go away.” Unfortunately, these items can clog the septic tank and leach field. You should never flush these items down the toilet:
- Cigarette butts
- Cooking oil
- Disposable diapers
- Facial tissue
- Sanitary napkins or tampons
These materials cannot be broken down by the septic system and they will clog the tank and leach field.
5. Using too much soap
Soap can damage the septic tank and leach field. You should only use biodegradable, phosphate-free soap in small amounts. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make.
6. Planting trees near the leach field
Trees have roots that can grow into the leach field and damage it. If you must plant trees near the leach field, make sure they are at least 50 feet away. Trees can also damage the septic tank, so make sure they are at least 10 feet away from the tank.
7. Driving over the leach field
The weight of a vehicle can compact the soil in the leach field and damage it. You should never drive over the leach field or park on it.
These are seven standard septic system errors to avoid. If you take care of your septic system, it will take care of you.