Septic Tank Inspections – What you need to know

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Septic Tank Inspections – What you need to know


If you own a septic tank, it’s probably because you live in an area with no public sewer system. Even if your municipality offers a public sewer system, your home may be too far from the local treatment plant for such a service to be feasible. It is important to know all about septic services and septic engineering, which will broaden your understanding of the maintenance procedures for these types of water treatment systems.

In order for all type septic systems to function properly there are some critical components which must be included in the design. A below ground septic tank must be used to separate solids from the liquids, and the septic tank must be pumped regularly to remove these solids. The wastewater flows through an absorption system where it is held for a time in trenches, gravel beds or rock filled filter boxes so that bacteria can decompose organic matter. A distribution box distributes water between interconnected pipes that feed the absorption system. The distribution box should be sized according to the daily water usage in each house connected to it. Knowing all about septic systems should convince you of the need for periodic service and pumping of the septic tank.

If you have a septic tank, they can be a little more tricky to use than being on a city sewer system. You will wonder occasionally, do I need my septic tank pumped? How often do you have septic tank pumped? In many cases, it never has to be cleaned out. Septic pumping is often needed if there is a blockage in the system or if too much solid material takes up space inside the tank. You will need to have septic tank pumped out when you have the septic system overflowing through the toilets in the house.

How to Care for Your Septic System

When you use a septic tank, the most important rule is never to put anything solid into the tank other than toilet paper. Don’t flush paper towels, cotton swabs, makeup wipes, or anything else other than toilet paper. You can add some enzyme cleaner to the tank by flushing it down the toilet as well. Generally, if you take good care of your septic system, you won’t need septic pumping. You can simply go on without thinking about your septic system at all, except when you are deciding whether or not to flush something solid.

Septic tank treatment

If you have an onsite wastewater treatment system for your home, like about 25% of homeowners do, did you know that you need to have a septic tank inspection performed on a regular basis? One myth that some homeowners believe is that once you have a septic tank installed, you do not have to worry about it for several years. Other times, homeowners who are more familiar with public sewage systems assume that the tanks work in much the same way. This could not be more inaccurate.

Maintenance on your septic tank like septic tank cleaning is important to protect your home?s investment and save you money. When a system fails, it is sometimes necessary to replace the entire unit which can cost thousands of dollars. A system that is maintained and used properly though can last a good 20 years.

Another reason for having a regular septic tank service inspection is to protect the health of your family and the surrounding environment. A failing tank can result in contamination not only in your yard, but also in the groundwater which leads to your community?s rivers and streams. Swimmers can get ear and eye infections, acute gastrointestinal diseases, and even hepatitis.

The good news is that with a bit of research and education, you can learn exactly what you need to do to keep your septic tank running properly for many years to come with septic cleaning.

How often you should have a septic tank inspection depends on a couple of different factors. Things you should consider include the type of tank you own, the size of your tank, and the number of people in your household.

Homes with standard tanks should have septic tank treatment at least every 2-3 years, but homes with alternative systems need to be inspected at least once per year. Households that drain larger amounts of wastewater and solids will obviously need tank inspections done more often.

Other factors to consider are the types of waste that leave your home. If you use a garbage disposal, the debris from your sink goes directly into your septic tank. Naturally occurring bacteria in the system works to break down the solids that enter your tank. However, they do not break down everything and too much food waste ends up overloading the system.

Using a garbage disposal will require more inspections and pumping than a home that wraps and tosses their food waste in the trash. A garbage disposal can increase the solid wastes in your tank significantly. You could also use an environmentally friendly option like composting to reduce this waste.

Chemicals and mixtures like gasoline, paint, oil, anti-freeze and some household cleaners also affect the efficiency of your tank. Introducing toxins to this mixture can kill the helpful bacteria. This results in a buildup of the sludge layer, or solid waste, in your tank. Find alternative methods of disposal for chemicals and look for detergents that are phosphate-free.

Of course, any other solids that go into your septic tank make the sludge or solid waste layer thicker. Things like kitty litter, dental floss, Q-tips, tampons, diapers, coffee grounds, and grease should never be flushed or put down the drains. Bacteria in the septic systems cannot break down these items effectively.

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