A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected (at least every 3 years) is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping every 3 to 5 years, depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. Water usage also plays a key factor in when a system needs to be pumped. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property’s value and could pose a legal liability.
Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Nitrogen and phosphorus are aquatic plant nutrients that can cause unsightly algae blooms. Excessive nitrate-nitrogen in drinking water can cause pregnancy complications, as well as methemoglobinemia (also known as blue baby syndrome) in infancy. Pathogens can cause communicable diseases through indirect or direct body contact such as ingestion of contaminated water.
Know Your Tank
The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out and oil and grease to float to the surface.
Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the solids and oil and grease from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield.
The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil.
Microorganisms in the soil under the drainfield provide final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients, while releasing the cleaned water back into underground aquifers.
You should have your septic system inspected at least every 3 years by a professional and your tank pumped as necessary (generally every 3 to 5 years).
Use Water Efficiently
Average indoor water use in the typical single-family home is almost 70 gallons per person per day. Dripping faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each year. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system.