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How to Extend the Life of Your Septic System

by Richard Vann on Aug 7, 2017

The most common septic system problems that require repair are broken or clogged pipes, drain field failure, and cracked tanks.

The results of these problems can be inconvenient and even devastating for homeowners – not to mention very expensive. Septic repairs can cost as much as $2,000 and the price tag for a replacement system is much more.

The good news is that you take many precautions to protect your septic system and keep it running at peak levels for years to come.

Routine Pumping and Inspections

Having your septic tank pumped and cleaned by a professional every 3-5 years will prevent sludge, oils and other solids from building up in the tank and, thus, lowering the chance of clogs and overflowing.

Similarly, a yearly inspection is a good way to monitor the performance of your septic system and identify problems before they become big and costly.

To stay up to date on septic tank pumping and inspections, keep a detailed record of service, repairs and any other maintenance performed on your system.

Be kind to your drain field

Your drain or leach field consists of a network of pipes that drain into the soil, which then safely removes toxics, bacteria, and other pollutants from the surface.

To maintain the drain field, only plant grass near it and the septic system as deep roots from trees and shrubs can cause damage. Additionally, never drive or park a vehicle or 4-wheeler on the drain field, and do not pour concrete or asphalt over it.

Be careful what you put down the drains

If it can be put in the trash do no dispose of it through your septic tank. The more solids that go into your septic tank, the more it will have to be pumped, and the more likely it will clog and overflow.

Never put any of the following items down your drains or toilets:

  • Food scraps
  • Grease and cooking oils
  • Coffee grinds
  • Paper towels
  • Facial tissues
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Tampons
  • Dental floss
  • Cigarette butts
  • Disposable diapers and baby wipes
  • Condoms

Use less water, ifs possible

There are many ways to reduce your water usage and lessen the saturation on your drain field and its soil. Consider the following:

  • Turn off water when washing hands with soap and when brushing teeth
  • Install water saving features on shower heads and faucets
  • Use proper load settings when doing laundry
  • Repair leaky pipes and faucets, and running toilets
  • Run dishwashers only when full
  • Lessen time spent in the shower

Beware of garbage disposals, hot tubs, and water purification systems

Garbage disposals, which shred food scraps, grease, and oils increase the amount of sludge and solids in the septic tank. Make sure your tank is big enough to handle the added mass or avoid using the disposal.

Draining large quantities of hot water from a hot tub or whirlpool into a septic system can overload the tank and drain field, and disrupt the system’s performance. Let the water cool and dispose of it in your lawn, away from the system and drain field.

Similarly, water purification systems pump large quantities of water into the septic system at once and can damage it. Be careful using these water softeners.

There’s no guaranteeing how long your septic system will operate at the top level. But following these tips will be sure to prolong its life and save you frustration and money.

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