Septic systems are a perfect solution for homeowners whose properties are not connected to a public sanitary sewer system. However, to ensure the health of your septic system, you need to know how to maintain it properly. This will extend its life and prevent septic failure and related consequences.
One of the best ways to prevent septic problems and the need for additional services, such as septic pump replacement, is to know the most common mistakes that septic system owners make. Knowing these mistakes and how to avoid making them will save you lots of trouble and money in the long run.
What’s the most common mistake septic owners make?
In truth, there are quite a few mistakes that septic system owners commonly make. However, they are all related to improper use or inadequate septic system maintenance. Let’s examine the most common reasons septic systems fail or need urgent attention.
You are not adjusting your garbage disposal and toilet use according to your septic system’s requirements.
A garbage disposal is a great way to eliminate your organic waste if your property is connected to a public sewer system. However, things get a bit different when you have a septic system.
While you can still use a garbage disposal with a septic tank, limiting its use to a minimum is highly recommended and, even better, not using it at all.
As you probably already know, the contents of your septic tanks separate into three distinct layers – sludge, effluent and scum. Using your garbage disposal, you significantly increase the amount of sludge and scum by letting in large organic particles and fats down your drains.
The unnatural accumulation of sludge and scum disrupts the balance of the organic life inside your septic tank. Consequently, the tank will require more frequent pumping and cleaning than usual, which will also cost more.
If more frequent pumping and cleaning do not occur, your septic tank will inevitably overflow or fail to function correctly. That’s why it’s best to prevent all this and limit your garbage disposal use in the first place.
The same goes for toilet use. You need to be very conscious about what you put inside your toilet. To ensure proper septic function, flush only human waste, and biodegradable toilet paper go down your toilet.
You shouldn’t flush the following items/liquids under no circumstances:
- Harmful chemicals
- Cleaning products
- Fat and grease
- Baby wipes/diapers
- Feminine hygiene products
- Cat litter
If you have flushed any of the items mentioned above or similar and have problems flushing the toilet, you might feel the urge to pour down drain cleaner or other unclogging liquid. However, refrain from doing so and call a professional septic service provider.
Infrequent maintenance, ignoring your septic system alarm and mistreating your drain field
Another common reason a septic system fails is if a homeowner doesn’t maintain it frequently. As a septic system owner, you probably know that your septic tank requires emptying and cleaning every 3 to 5 years, depending on how big it is, how many people live inside the house and how much water they use.
However, many homeowners fail to keep track of the last time their septic tanks were emptied and to plan when the next maintenance visit should take place. This leads to the accumulation of sludge and scum and the general inability of the septic system to process all incoming waste.
Ignoring your septic system alarm
When your septic system alarm goes off, it’s a clear indication that there is a severe problem with your septic system. Although most alarms give out a general signal that may concern different parts of the system, many homeowners ignore them or delay calling a professional service provider until actual damage occurs.
Except for the alarm, ignoring other signs of trouble is also a very common problem. Such signs are sometimes pronounced, such as clogging of the drains, slow drainage, water backing up, foul odors and so on. However, at other times such signs may not seem that concerning.
An example is when the grass on your drainfield seems significantly healthier and greener than in other parts of your backyard, leading us to our next point.
Mistreating your drainfield
The drainfield is a commonly neglected but vitally important septic system component. You should leave the area clear of any parked vehicles, especially heavy ones such as trucks. Building structures on top of the drainfield is also something that you want to avoid doing.
However, the most common mistake related to drainfields is excessive use of water, which the drainfield needs to absorb. This includes having many guests use the shower during the holiday season, doing many rounds of laundry per day, etc.