In general your septic system consists of a septic tank and drain field, and in some cases a pump tank for those who cannot gravity feed to the drain field. Septic systems can last for decades, if given the proper maintenance along with some helpful tips and knowledge that all homeowners should know.
Typically, a 3 bedroom home with 2250 sq ft of living or less has a 900 gallon septic tank. The septic tank receives all the waste water from a home. This includes showers, toilets, washing machine, dishwasher and sinks. According to the American water works association, the average person uses about 70 gallons per day on septic tank pumping. The family of 4 would add up to 280 gallons a day. So, just imagine how fast your septic tank will fill up, and how much water must flow through the tank to make it out to the drain field.
What most people don’t realize is that all the solids or waste from the house collects in this tank as well. The solids which remain in the septic tank consist of things such as toilet paper, human waste, food from the disposal, lint and hair from the washing machine or shower, and also unexpected things that children or guest may flush down the toilet. These items will collect and turn into sludge layer at the bottom of the tank. This layer can rise up in the tank and travel to the drain field lines, which starts to make the drain field fail and causes sewage back ups into your house or your yard.
Many times homeowners will see advertisements for bacteria additives that claim to break down the sludge layer, and make it disappear. But, don’t be fooled. The only way to remove the waste from your septic tank is to have it pumped out. Why take a chance on ruining your drain field? It’s the most expensive component to your system. Protect it by pumping out your septic tank every three to five years, depending on the number of people living in the household.
Below are some other tips that homeowners should know, to protect their system:
- Homeowners should check for leaking faucets and toilets.
- Homeowners who do a lot of laundry, such as those with young children, should try to space out laundry during the week.
- Avoid the Saturday all day laundry marathon. Over consumption of water can lead to drain field failure.
- Know the location of the septic tank system to avoid running a vehicle over the system.
- Avoid planting trees and shrubbery on or near the septic system. Homeowners often mistakenly plant trees near a drain field. The roots will infiltrate the drain field system due to the easy water source, and grow into the pipes.
- Another helpful tip is to avoid putting an irrigation system near your drain field or pump tank. The water from the irrigation system can over saturate your drain field. Also if you have a dosing tank the water can erode the circuit board of your high water alarm.