Conventional septic tanks are wonderfully efficient designs that only need pumping once every four years or so. With good care, they last as long as 100 years. If you treat your septic tank as if it were a simple cesspool, and dump every type of waste that your home produces into it, your system won’t be very useful. To retain efficient function, you need to know the correct way to use a septic tank.
In a septic tank, solid human waste and other natural waste are broken down by anaerobic bacteria present in the system. These bacteria, though, are only able to function in a natural environment. You need to make sure that you don’t do anything to disturb the natural flora present in the septic tank. The pointers here should help.
What not to do with a septic tank system
Don’t dump too many solids into your septic tank
If you were in a home with municipal sewage connections, you might get away with throwing all kinds of things down the toilet – cigarette butts, wet wipes, ripped up paper and so on. In a septic tank, though, the bacteria present are not able to biodegrade these items. Non-biodegradable solid items clogging up your system will cause an imbalance in the environment present in your septic tank, and render the bacteria ineffective over time.
Do not use chemicals
Bleach, chemical toilet cleaners, cooking oil from the kitchen, antifreeze, pesticides, drain cleaners and other strong chemicals can kill bacteria, and make the septic tank less effective. While small quantities of these items will usually not do much harm, large quantities certainly can. It isn’t even a good idea to run your washing machine more than once a day, unless you use a high-efficiency washing machine. With large amounts of soapy water being dumped in, the environment in the septic tank will soon lose the ability to break down waste.
Do not use a garbage disposal
While the bacteria in septic tanks are capable of breaking down solid waste, large amounts may be a problem. Keeping solid waste out of the septic tank as far as possible will extend the time that you can go between cleanups. Dumping large amounts of water in your septic tank can also cause problems.
Don’t use additives: Many manufacturers advertise expensive bottles of additive that are intended to help septic tanks break down their waste quicker. These items don’t help, though.
The dos of septic tank use
Use mild products: Whatever soap, detergent or bathroom cleaner you use, make sure that it’s a mild product to avoid doing unnecessary damage to the bacteria in your septic tank.
Do check for blockages: If your internal sewage system contains a block, it will usually show itself as a stopped drain or one that’s slow to flow. You can easily check for blockages yourself, and remove them. Alternatively can call in a professional.
Do be careful with the leachfield: The leachfield, the system of pipes distributing relatively clean septic tank effluent out, needs careful attention.It’s important to never park a vehicle over it.
A little training is all that it takes to keep a septic tank in top working condition.