The average three-person family produces 250 to 300 gallons of wastewater daily. Since it takes 24 to 48 hours for the septic system to process wastewater before it gets to the final drain field filter, overburdening your septic system can cause premature failure that can result in ground and surface water pollution that may damage your property.
These tips will help to preserve your septic system and extend its life:
- As a rule, you should have your tank pumped every 3 to 5 years. A better idea is an annual inspection by a professional to determine if you need more frequent pumping or if any problems are developing. This expert will look for wet spots or sewage on the surface, unusually lush vegetation near the drain field, and will check with you to determine whether you are experiencing slow drains, plumbing backups, or unusual noises in the plumbing system.
- You should keep an accurate record of where your system is: Where the tank is buried and where the drain field is located. This will be invaluable to you if you are planning gardens, an additional building, considering a pool, or to leave for the next homeowner when you sell your home.
- There are many things you should NOT put in your system:
- Fats and grease
- Motor oil or fuel
- Paints, strippers, waxes, chemicals, and cleaners, including toilet bowl and drain cleaners
- Feminine hygiene products
- Paper towels or rags
- Unwanted medications
- Coffee grounds, egg shells or nut shells
- Although you can use your garbage disposal, doing so will prematurely fill your tank, necessitating in more frequent pumping. A better way to dispose of vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells and coffee grounds would be to start a compost pile. Keep a small covered container on your counter top and deposit all your produce scraps in it, which you can then add to the compost pile. Your plants will love it!
- Repair all your leaky faucets and toilets to conserve water and not overburden your system.
- Spread laundry over the week instead of doing many loads at one time. Wash full loads.
- Keep cars and heavy machinery off of your drain field.
- Avoid planting trees, shrubs and even gardens on top of the septic system and drain field. Large trees should be planted at least 25 feet away; medium trees should be at least 15 feet away; and small trees should be 5 or more feet away. The best cover for your septic tank area and drain field is grass.
- Do not build near the drain field or install a pool close by the system without first checking with the Health Department.
- Do not use septic system additives, unless advised by an expert.
- Do not drain hot tubs or swimming pools into your septic system or on the drain field.