Living out in the country can be an amazing and relaxing experience for people that are just sick of city life. You get to experience nature in its true form, and just enjoy peace and quiet. However, some amenities that are taken for granted in the city are no longer available in a rural area. Most people living out in the country have to remove all of their waste through a septic tank. If you do not know how to maintain your septic tank properly, you are opening yourself up to an array of serious problems. Here is everything you need to know about maintaining your septic tank so that it lasts you a lifetime.
How Do Septic Tanks Work?
To understand how to properly maintain your septic system you must first understand how the system itself works. Essentially, your septic tank is a giant concrete tank that is buried in your yard away from the home. Pipes are fitted that connect your toilet and sink to the tank itself. When you flush the toilet, the waste water enters one side of the septic tank.
Any waste that floats in the water of the tank rises to the top and creates a scum layer. Anything solid will sink to the bottom and form a sludge layer. Once the waste has dissolved, new water will flush it out of the exit of the tank onto the drain field. Basically, the drain field absorbs the waste into the ground as fertilizer.
Water Conservation Is Imperative
Because of the time it takes to dissolve the waste in the tank, water conservation is key. The tank can only hold a certain amount of water at a time, so you cannot inundate the tank by flushing constantly or leaving the sink running for a while. Too much water will also over saturate the drain field, which will leave you with a huge area of land that is soggy and smells like death.
Always check for leaky faucets or drains. Don't take ridiculously long showers and make sure you have an efficiency washing machine. A garbage disposal is something no septic tank owner should have because of the solids and oils they would deposit in the drain field.
What Not to Flush
It may seem obvious, but too many people that own septic tanks do not know that you can't just flush anything down there. Not only can certain things clog your tank, but they can prevent the bacteria in the tank from breaking down the solids. Things to avoid flushing include:
- Cigarette butts
- Coffee grounds or cat food
- Tissue paper
- Household chemicals
Any kind of household chemical, regardless of how natural it might seem, will destroy the good bacteria in your tank.
Pump Up the Jams
To ensure that your tank is functioning properly, you must get it pumped occasionally. This is necessary because the layers of sludge and scum that accumulate get bigger and bigger with each passing day. If the layers become too big, the bacteria no longer acts as an ecosystem that breaks down the waste, but rather a giant tube pumping out rancid waste to the drain field.
How often you need to get septic pumping depends on the size of the tank and how often it is used. It is generally recommended that you pump your septic tank once every 3-5 years, but that number increases if there is a lot of traffic to the tank. Generally, the price of hiring a professional to pump your tank is about $200-$300. If that seems steep, the alternative is thousands of dollars if the septic tank breaks down.
It can be a dirty job, but knowing how to properly maintain your septic tank will give you the peace of mind you always wanted when you chose to move out to the country. Not only will this knowledge prevent any disaster, you will also save a lot of money that you'd have to spend if something went wrong.