Your septic system may be a bit of a mystery to you – out of sight, out of mind, right? It’s likely you don’t pay the system much mind until there’s a noticeable problem. But understanding how your septic system works and busting the myths you may have been told can help you extend the life of your septic system and prevent the need for costly repairs.
Here are a few of the common myths about septic systems that could actually turn into very costly mistakes if not corrected.
Septic Tanks Take Care of Themselves
Because your septic system is buried underground and not something you look at regularly, it’s easy to think that it just sort of takes care of itself.
Especially if you’ve never experienced any problems with it. But the truth is that your septic tank is a very complex system that keeps your family safe and healthy by filtering the waste from your household. More common in rural areas where there is no access to centralized sewer systems, your septic uses a combination of nature and proven technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry. Because it is managing the output from so many parts of your house and filtering whatever comes down the drain, if you want
to avoid a rather unpleasant and costly emergency, regular maintenance is absolutely necessary. Regular services you may want to consider for your septic include:
- Pumping – At the very least your tank needs to be pumped so it doesn’t overflow
- Solid Waste Removal – This is separate from pumping and is required when there is a build-up of sludge inside the tank that needs to be removed by your service expert.
- Inspection – Proactive maintenance is always the best option for your septic tank. Scheduling inspections on a regular basis will ensure that you never encounter a costly malfunction
You Can Put Anything Down the Drain
Do you think about where things go when you put them down the drain? Not likely! Many people believe that there are no limitations on what you can put down your drain
because it’s all getting washed away. It’s easy to assume that once it disappears down the drain, it’s truly gone but it’s not. Everything you put down your drain has to go through a complicated process of filtering in order to remove harmful toxins and keep your pipes clear. A few things you should never put down your drain include, but are not limited to:
- “Flushable” Kitty Litter – We know it says “flushable” but it can actually cause major clogs and create problems for your septic.
- Coffee Grounds – These are some of the most likely sources of clogged drains in your kitchen pipes as many people think they’re small enough to go down the drains.
- Eggshells – While they may seem harmless, eggshells can get stuck in grease, fats and oils to create a thick mess in your pipes
- Grease, Fats, Oils – These items act as a binder for all sorts of materials and can coat your pipes until nothing can pass through them. The best rule of thumb is to drain fats and oils into a jar to cool and then dispose of them in the trash.
- Household Chemicals – These can actually do a lot of damage not only to your pipes but to the helpful bacteria contained in your septic system. It’s best to avoid harsh chemicals if possible.
Pump-Outs Are Unnecessary
The question about pumping out your septic tank shouldn’t really be IF you should but rather how OFTEN you should because, yes, you absolutely should have your septic tank pumped if you want to prevent malfunctions and emergency servicing. The frequency of your septic pumps depends on several factors about your home and your tank. Most experts recommend pumping the septic tank every 2 to 3 years. But the best way to know how often you should have the tank pumped is to speak with a professional who can assess your system and situation to suggest a schedule to follow.
A Clogged System Cannot Be Repaired
You may think a clogged system is unfixable and can only be solved by replacing the system entirely. But, thankfully, that is not the case. The three most common causes of clogs in your septic system are solids entering the leach field, growths blocking the holes in your leaching pipes and tree roots physically clogging the pipes. A licensed professional will be able to evaluate the clog in your system and decide if it can be removed easily or solved by a process called “jetting” which involves installing access ports on the ends of the leaching pipes so they can be given an internal pressure wash to clear them out. There should be no reason that your septic system can’t be repaired if the leaching pipes and bed are jetted internally with high-pressure water on occasion.
Your Septic System Can’t Last More Than 20 Years
It’s commonly thought that your septic system can’t possibly survive longer than two decades, but this is simply not true! The life of your septic system has much more to do with maintenance than it does with an arbitrary estimate or expectation. To increase the life of your septic system and ensure that it will function optimally well over 20 years, have the tank pumped regularly (based on a specific schedule recommended by a professional), avoid putting toxins down the drain and keep your leach field cleared of anything other than grass.
These are just a few of the more common misconceptions about septic tanks but they are also the most important because they can have a major impact on the functionality and longevity of your septic system. Of course, it’s always best to get an expert opinion from the professionals when making decisions for your septic, so be sure to give us a call with any questions or if you are in need of an inspection! (970) 829-8222