Septic Care and Maintenance Habits
How safe, effective, and economical an onsite sewage system is greatly depends on the use and maintenance of the system. Properly used and maintained systems provide years of service. Proper use begins with waste disposal habits. Individuals determine how much, and what enters the system. Many of us were used to “just flushing and it went away”, and had never heard of onsite sewage systems until we moved to a rural setting. Coming up with, and sticking to proper use and maintenance guidelines will go along way to maximizing the longevity of an onsite sewage system.
The suggestions outlined below are meant to give some insights into most conventional systems and help with developing proper use and maintenance habits.
Systems are designed to handle domestic wastewater. Things that do not break down easily (facial tissue, large amounts of vegetable scrapings, coffee grounds, chemicals, paints, oils, sanitary napkins, applicators, condoms, medicines, pesticides, poisons, strong disinfectants, etc.) can damage a system or substantially increase the need for cleaning the septic tank.
Restrict the use of in-sink garbage disposals. They add a large amount of organic and inorganic material to your sewage, which may exceed your system’s capacity and cause it to fail.
Do not pour grease or cooking oil down the drain (including toilet). Grease and oil is hard to break down. It will eventually move into the soil, plugging it off.
Keep your fixtures in good repair. A slow-running toilet can add large amounts of water. A running toilet discharging ¼ gallon per minute will result in 360 gallons per day. This is more water than a sewage system for a 3-bedroom home is designed for. To test the toilet, put a few drops of food colouring in the toilet tank. If it shows up in the bowl, it is leaking. It may take as long as an hour for colour to show in bowl.
Make sure the access lids are structurally sound, secure and childproof.
Have the septic tank checked annually to determine how often the tank needs to be pumped out. (typically tanks are pumped out by a vacuum truck approximately every two years)
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