Never Put These Items Down the Drain If You Have a Septic Tank

If you have a septic tank, you’re probably aware that you need to schedule a septic tank cleaning about once every three to five years. But did you also know that even with regular service, there are things you could be doing that can dramatically harm your system and reduce the life of your tank? At Lion Home Service, we know a thing or two about septic systems, and we also know that oftentimes it’s what you don’t flush down your drain that can extend the life of your system and prevent a dangerous backup of sewage.

In today’s post, we want to review all of the things you should avoid washing down the drain or flushing down your toilet. Keep reading, and if you have a septic tank problem or need service, please contact Lion Home Service in Fort Collins.

How Does a Septic Tank Work?

Whenever you do something in your home that involves water going down a drain, that water — whether it be from doing dishes, flushing a toilet, or even washing the garage floor — has to go somewhere. It either goes into the pipes that carry it away from your home and over to a central water treatment plant or, if you have a septic system, it goes to your septic tank. This securely sealed container holds your wastewater allowing any solids to settle to the bottom. Eventually, when the water reaches a certain level, it leaves the septic system and flows into your drain field where the water evaporates. 

Caring For Your Septic Tank

If everything you put down the drain goes to a tank that eventually gets pumped out, you might be wondering why it matters so much what items you flush. There are two main things to keep in mind. First, anything you flush must be biodegradable, meaning that it will easily break down in your tank. Items such as flushable wipes, cotton swabs, and even paper towels don’t completely break down in a septic system and this can cause a big problem. These items can plug your pipes and even cause damage to your septic tank that can result in you, the homeowner, having to pay for costly repairs.   

Second, you should never wash or flush anything down a drain that could potentially harm the good bacteria in your septic system or contaminate the groundwater. Using bleach or other toxic chemicals to clean is good for eliminating harmful bacteria in your home, but they also eliminate the beneficial bacteria needed for a properly functioning septic system if you wash them down the drain. And remember, once the wastewater in your septic tank reaches a certain level, it flows into your drain field. If your wastewater is filled with hazardous chemicals, there’s a likely chance it could seep into the groundwater, contaminating it. 

List of Items To Never Put Down the Drain

Now that we’ve explained the two most important categories of items that can harm your septic system, we would like to share a couple of lists of common household products that should never go down your drain. Read them carefully and then share it with others in your household so that everyone is aware of what is okay and not okay to flush. 

Hazardous Materials

  • Paint
  • Gasoline
  • Motor oil
  • Weedkiller
  • Solvents such as paint thinner
  • Bleach
  • Insecticide
  • Herbicide
  • Drain cleaner
  • Medications (especially antibiotics)

Non-Biodegradable Items

  • “Flushable” wipes
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Dental floss
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cat litter
  • Condoms
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Cotton swabs

Although this is not an all-encompassing list, it should give you an idea of the things you shouldn’t be flushing down your toilet. Instead, you should use cleaning products and even toilet paper that is labeled safe for septic systems. While this may seem like a hassle, learning how to properly care for your septic system will save you and the environment from potential contamination problems and it will no doubt keep your septic system running smoothly for many years.  

Signs Your Septic Tank Is Full 

If it’s been several years since you’ve had a septic tank cleaning or you’re unsure that it’s ever been done, it’s important to schedule service as soon as possible. Tanks do fill up — and you’ll want to have it pumped before it causes a problem. But what if you already suspect that you have a problem? Here are some telltale signs that your septic tank may be full:  

Pooling Water

If you notice large pools of water around your septic system’s drain field, this could indicate that your tank is overflowing and the wastewater isn’t able to evaporate naturally. 

Odors Coming From Drains

If you smell something offensive every time you take a shower or turn on a faucet, there’s a chance that your tank is full and sewage is starting to back up in the pipes, causing the smell. 

Slow Drains

If the water isn’t making its way down the drain as quickly as it used to, this could be a sign that your septic tank is full. 

Sewage Backup

When a tank is full, sewage will start to overflow or backup in the pipes. In severe cases sewage can even come up in the drains in your home, This is not only disgusting, but it also poses a serious health risk for you and your family.

Particularly Green Grass Around Your Drainfield

In some cases, you may see pooling water around your drain field, but in other cases, you just notice that the grass around it is particularly green. This is often another sign that your septic system may be overflowing.

Contact Lion Home Service For Septic Tank Cleaning

Don’t let your septic system get to the point where it’s overflowing. Contact Lion Home Service in Fort Collins for regular septic tank cleaning. We’re a local-owned and operated company serving the entire Northern Colorado area including Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Windsor, and Fort Collins. Call today to get your free estimate. We look forward to serving you!