Septic systems are often found in rural areas, but can also be installed in neighborhoods in suburbs around cities. A good quality, properly maintained septic system can last for decades.
There are several different problems which can occur with septic systems. Learn how to avoid septic tank problems with our helpful guide!
How to Avoid Septic System Problems
The best way to avoid septic system problems is regular maintenance. The amount of maintenance per year will depend on the size of the household and the size of the septic tank. The larger the household, the more frequently the tank will need to be pumped.
Have your septic tank inspected and pumped regularly. The amount of inspections and pumps per year will depend on your household size, usage, and size of the tank.
Pay attention to what is flushed down the toilet. Your system was designed to handle toilet paper, water, and human waste.
Coffee grounds, hair, used cooking oil or grease, disposable diapers, feminine products, cigarette butts, and cat litter should not be flushed into a septic system. All of these products can contribute to clogs or damage the natural biological digestion, leading to potentially costly repairs.
If you have a garbage disposal, limit the amount of food which goes into it. Large amounts of food can cause clogs or problems.
Limit your use of antibacterial soaps or cleansers. Excessive use of antibacterial products can disrupt the naturally occurring bacteria which aids with septic system digestion.
Your drainage field (also known as an absorption field) should not need any maintenance if treated properly.
Helpful tips on maintaining your drainage field:
- Don’t plant trees or shrubberies on your drainage field; the roots can damage, break, or clog pipes.
- Don’t drive or park cars or heavy equipment on the absorption field, as this can cause pipes to collapse. It can also compact drainage soil below, making it less efficient and leading to potential backups later.
- Divert runoff rainwater from roofs, driveways, decks, and patios away from the drainage field.
- Don’t pave over your absorption field. Choose grass as a cover instead, as grass naturally helps absorb excess surface water, prevents erosion, and has a pleasant visual appeal.
Warning Signs of Septic System Problems
It can take months, if not years, for problems to build up in a septic system. Watch out for the following warning signs:
- Slow-flushing toilets
- Slow drainage in sinks
- Backup and/or overflow in sinks, showers, tubs, or washing machine hookups
- Odors from drains or on the drainage field
- Wet waste begins to appear on the drainage field
- Drain inspection chambers fill with water – these should be empty
- Gurgling sounds from drains
If you see any of these warning signs, call your plumber as soon as possible! It’s easier and less costly to avert a problem than recover from one that causes damage.
Common Causes of Septic System Problems
When functioning properly, there is little difference between a septic system and service from a city sewer. Septic systems are efficient, can be environmentally friendly, and are just as odor-free as their public sewer counterparts.
However, there are a number of things which can lead to septic system problems.
- Drain field failure (clogged drain field)
- Improper soil
- Poor soil conditions
- Septic systems that are too small for their household or usage
- Excessive water usage
- Unusually wet seasons
- Local floods
- Sludge or scum which rises to the outlet pipe and clogs the field drainage pipes
- Excessive use of antibacterial soaps and cleaners
- Poor drainage system design
- Physical damage to pipes or system components
- Waste pumping is too infrequent
Old septic systems can simply wear out, known as a ‘septic system failure’. In these cases, the entire system may have to be removed and replaced with an updated model.
Tidal Wave Response
In addition to regular maintenance, it’s also important to be responsible about how you use your septic system. Don’t flush chemicals into your septic system. Not only is this bad for the soil in the drainage field, chemicals can damage your septic tank or pipes, and you could contaminate local ground and surface water.
If your Atlanta area septic system has backed up, and you’re needing cleanup and repairs, call Tidal Wave Response any time at our 24/7 emergency hotline, 770-693-4568.