The Dos and Don’ts of Owning a Septic Tank

Unpleasant as they may seem, septic tanks are a big responsibility. You can largely leave them alone to do their thankless job. But every now and then, they need a bit of attention if you want them to continue to provide great service. Here are the dos and don'ts of owning a septic tank.

Do Get It Pumped Periodically

You may think septic tanks are a strictly send-it-and-forget-it affair. But like any system in your home, septic tanks r periodic inspections and maintenance. Every three years or so, you need to schedule a visit from a septic tank technician to have it checked out and pumped out. When a septic tank becomes too full, it’ll overflow. You’ll know it because there’ll be a rotten egg smell in the air, puddles will form in your yard, and the grass will be especially lush over the tank. Make sure it doesn’t reach that point by scheduling a pumping. Trust us—the benefits of having your septic tank pumped are phenomenal.

Do Mark the Location of Your Septic Tank’s Lid

If you have one, your septic tank is buried somewhere on your property. The lid itself should be about four inches below ground. Locate it on your plot plan, or use a metal detector to find it. Once you find it, mark the spot. If the lid is partially sticking out, paint it or use something like a rock or pole that won’t get in the way to mark it. It’ll save time down the line.

Don’t Flush Anything but You-Know-What

Septic tanks are out of sight, so it’s easy to think anything you send their way is permanently out of mind. But that’s not so. Flush only toilet paper and human waste. Dental floss, prophylactics, hair, diapers, cigarettes, feminine hygiene products, wipes, and paper towels have no business being in your septic tank. Waste and toilet paper eventually break down. However, other solids won’t for a very long time. That increases the potential for clogs that force wastewater back into your home, harm the local ecosystem, and cause other nastiness. And never pour cleaning products or other household chemicals down the toilet. That can kill the helpful bacteria living in your septic tank that breaks down the waste. Think before you flush.

Don’t Add Weight or Roots

Still thinking about the dos and don'ts of owning a septic tank? Don’t forget this one. Never drive or park your vehicle over the septic tank or the system of pipes (called the leach field) attached to it. Your vehicle’s weight can crush the tank or pipes, requiring repair or replacement. And don’t plant trees, bushes, or similar vegetation above the tank and leach field for the same reason. Roots work their way into everything and will seek out the water and fertilizing nutrients in your tank. Put your green thumb to work elsewhere!

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