Many years ago we had a septic system that failed, and it cost $12,000 to replace it. This is a very costly expense for homeowners, but I learned a lot from the experts on how to care for my new septic system. These simple steps can add years of life to your septic system!
The engineer told us that the number one reason for failed septic systems is excessive use of water. Indeed, our leech field was saturated and was no longer working, so we had back-up in our garage.
When the soil under the system becomes saturated from too much water (laundry, flushing toilets, dishwasher, bath and showers, etc), it can result in failure of the system because there often isn’t enough time for sludge to separate and drain.
Top load washing machines can use as much as 40 gallons of water per load, while front load machines can use half of that, or only 20 gallons per load. The first thing we did was replace our old top loader and purchased a more efficient washing machine, saving as much as 7,000 gallons of water each year.
The cleaners you use in your toilet, shower, sink, dishwasher, etc. end up in your septic system when the waste water leaves your home, so it’s wise to choose products that won’t cause problems with your septic system. The expert engineers who designed our new septic system told me to be very careful about using disinfectants, liquid bleach, drain cleaners, solvents and antibacterial products. They explained that septic systems need beneficial bacteria to break down waste water and using these products could lead to septic system problems.
I was warned to never dump expired antibiotics down the toilet. Again, systems need beneficial bacteria to perk properly.
Liquid Fabric Softeners
This one really surprised me. I was told not to use liquid fabric softeners, but instead use dryer sheet fabric softeners.
We used our garbage disposal all the time, but after we spoke to the experts who installed our new septic system, we removed the garbage disposal. They simply aren’t a good idea if you have your own sewage system. Be careful not to pour grease or oils down the sink.
Get it Pumped!
Septic systems should be pumped regularly. The thought on this varies, but I have read every 1-3 years and I have also read 3-5 years. We tried to have our tank pumped out every 2 years.
* Reduce wastewater by conserving water whenever you can.
* Avoiding pouring chemicals down your drain, but if you do flush with plenty of water
* Note the active ingredients on household cleaners and follow the products guidelines for proper use and disposal.
* Don’t use garbage disposals.
* Maintain your system by having your septic tank pumped regularly.