Septic Tank Ownership Tips for SepticSmart Week

septic tank system - be septic smartDid you know that September 19-23 marks the end EPA’s SepticSmart Week? If you are a homeowner that owns a septic tank, this outreach is for you. If you don’t know if you have a septic tank, ask yourself: During SepticSmart Week, homeowners are encouraged to learn about proper septic care and take part in maintenance activities. Taking care of your septic tank not only benefits you and your wallet, but also helps sustain the local water supply. If you are would like to help raise awareness of this important community concern, you are encouraged to: Many homeowners and urban dwellers don’t have to worry about anything when it comes to the way their blackwater (water from toilets) is disposed of, but we all take part in the septic system. It’s important to understand the basics of how a septic tank works so we can all understand our role and responsibility in the water treatment process. Click here for ways to improve the water quality for your home and community.

What is a septic tank?

Septic tanks are underground wastewater containers that treat the water coming from your home. Septic tank synonyms:

How does a septic tank work?

This is a simplified explanation, but covers all of the basics. how does a septic tank system work?Source: epa.gov All the water from your home gets funneled into one main drainage pipe. The contaminated water gets transported from a main drainage pipe to the septic tank located in an underground area near your house. In the septic tank, the water remains until the solids sink to the bottom, where bacteria help to break it down. To prevent too much sludge and scum, you will eventually need to have your septic tank pumped (every 3 – 5 years). Inlet and outlet tees help prevent the sludge from escaping. Once the oils and sludge has been separated, the wastewater is released into a nearby drainfield, where it percolates under the soil (proper soil is necessary). Some systems use alternative material to treat the wastewater, such as sand, peat, or plastic. Still in other systems, the water may drain to nearby wetlands, lagoons, or a separate disinfection system. Alternative septic systems should be professionally inspected every year. Use this interactive septic system model to learn more (by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority).

Septic Tank Ownership Tips

If you own a septic tank, you are responsible for it. That means professional maintenance, vigilant care, and proper treatment. The main benefits of proper maintenance are cost savings and environmental protection.

1. Get a professional inspection

If you are buying a home and it has a septic tank, make sure it is professionally inspected before you move forward. Important information to gather includes the age and location of the septic tank, including any installation and maintenance details. Some signs of a damaged septic tank system are damaged vents, soggy lawns, and odors. If your home inspector recommends a specialist, get one. You should have almost everything in the home inspected, including HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems (with a video pipeline inspection). As a septic tank owner, you are now responsible for regular maintenance and pumpings. Have your septic tank inspected by a licensed professional every 3 years. Schedule septic tank pumpings whenever necessary or every 3 – 5 years. Alternative septic systems should be inspected annually. Professional septic tank inspections include:

2. Watch what goes down your drains

One of the most important factors for maintaining the health and effectiveness of your septic system is to watch what goes down your drains. You may already know not to pour chemicals, grease, oil pesticides, gasoline, antifreeze, or paint down your drains, but read on to find out about the things you may not know about. Toilets: There are only two things that should ever go down your toilet: human waste and toilet paper. It’s simple. But, that means no wet wipes, feminine hygene products, tissues, paper towels, Q-tips, or anything else. Read our blog for more information about what NOT to throw down your toilet and why it’s so important. Laundry Room: Many people don’t realize that running multiple loads of laundry during the day can put excess strain on your septic system, risking flooding to the drainfield. Consider spreading out your washes over the week and switching to a more energy and water efficient washer, such as an ENERGY STAR washer. Kitchen Sinks/Garbage Disposal: Grease, oil, chemicals, paint, and other household products separate from the wastewater in your septic tank and eventually need to be properly disposed of. Reduce the amount of scum and sludge that enters your drainage system or prepared to spend more time and money on septic tank inspections and pumpings. For the sake of your garbage disposal and your septic system, do NOT put these items in the garbage disposal:
  1. Grease, oil, and fats
  2. String and starchy vegetables (celery, etc.)
  3. Pasta, rice, and other expandable foods
  4. Hard stuff like bones and pits
  5. Glass, metal, plastic, paper
  6. Large amounts of any solids
Read our blog for more information on how to clean, maintain, and repair your garbage disposal. If you are an urban dweller, you still have a responsibility to watch what goes down your drains. Watch this video to learn more about the sewage treatment process: [embed]
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3. Use water efficiently

Too much water entering the septic tank can cause overflow and flooding problems. Besides saving money on your water bill, you can help maintain your septic system by watching hoe much water you use. Luckily, there are some easy ways to minimize your use of water:

3. Care for your drainfield

If you aren't taking proper care of your drainfield, you risk sewage flooding your property, damaged vegetation, and much more. Make sure you are taking care of your drainfield by:

Top 10 Ways to Be a Good Septic Owner

10 tips for septic tank owners - septic smart week - EPA waterdo your part - get septic smartDownload and share the image from epa.gov to help with septic system education and awareness. For additional plumbing tips, read our other blogs:
  1. Earth Day: Eco-Tips for Saving Energy & Living a Greener Life
  2. Easy Ways to Save Water at Home | World Water Day
  3. 10 Water Heating Tips | How to Save Money and Energy
  4. How to Clean, Maintain, and Repair Your Garbage Disposal
  5. How to Find and Shut Off Main Water Shutoff Valve

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