Replacing A Septic Tank Can Be Expensive, So Here's How To Keep Yours In Good Working Order

Posted on: 23 January 2018


Keeping your septic tank in good condition is easy, but it requires regular pumping and some vigilance on what you and your family are flushing down the drains of your home. Neglecting to maintain your septic system can lead to costly repairs; broken pipes or an effluent pipe that needs to be rerouted cost much more than a septic tank pump out, so you will save money by keeping up-to-date with septic tank maintenance. Here's what you need to know about keeping the septic tank and its drainfield in good condition.

Perform A Septic Pump Out Routinely

Over time, solid matter known as sludge accumulates on the bottom of your septic tank; this sludge needs to be routinely pumped out of the septic tank and disposed of by a professional. If sludge is allowed to accumulate, it increases the chance that solid waste will exit out the septic tank's effluent pipe and settle on your drainfield. When waste water passes through your septic tank, the solid matter will naturally precipitate out of the water and settle on the bottom of your septic tank. When the level of sludge in the tank gets too high, the total volume of water in the septic tank is reduced; this means water flows faster towards the drainfield, which doesn't give the solid matter enough time to precipitate out. Once your drainfield is clogged, it can take a decade for the drainfield to be usable again. That means a professional will have to reroute your effluent pipe to another field, which can be very expensive depending on the layout of your yard.

How often do you have to pump your septic tank? It depends on number of people living in your home and how much water you and your family are using. If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, you'll need to pump more often due to the additional solids from the disposal that enter into the tank. Ask a septic system expert for a recommended schedule for septic pump outs. When you pump out your tank, have the technician check to see how much sludge was in the tank before it was pumped. This can give you a good idea of your usage and how often you will need to pump it out.

Only Flush Biodegradable Material Down The Drain

Items that do not degrade in your septic tank (and additionally have a good chance of clogging your pipes or septic system) include diapers, latex gloves, cat litter, feminine hygiene products and disposable wet wipes. The bacteria in your septic tank can't break these items down, so they will quickly accumulate in your septic tank and make solid waste outflow to the drain field more likely. You will also want to educate your children on what is allowable to flush down the toilet; young children are curious and often attempt to flush clothes or toys down the drain into the septic system. These can lead to severe clogs that are expensive to repair.

Don't Use Septic Tank Additives Unless Recommended By A Professional

These additives such as septic tank cleaners, additional bacteria or added yeast are not necessary for a septic tank in good condition. In fact, any additional bacteria may cause the effluent in the septic tank to become too active! The gas they produce cam agitate the water, leading to solid matter leaving the effluent and entering the drainfield; while this is a less serious problem than failing to routinely pump out your septic tank, it can contribute to a clogged or oversaturated drainfield.

When cared for, a septic tank can last for up to four decades before the tank itself deteriorates to the point where it needs replacement. You should have your septic tank inspected at least once every three years. Inspecting more often is recommended when it is more than twenty years old; this is especially recommended for steel septic tanks, as their components will rust and become more susceptible to breaking.