If your toilets haven't started backing up and your backyard does not smell of human waste, your septic system must be fine, right? Well, not necessarily. Many times, septic problems take a while to develop. If you're unknowingly sabotaging your septic system with bad habits, it may take months or years for problems to develop, and by then, the necessary repairs will be substantial.
Rather than wait for a sign that something is wrong, check to ensure you're not accidentally sabotaging your septic system in the following ways.
Using Chemical Drain Cleaner
Everyone experiences a clogged or slow sink drain from time to time. If your go-to solution is to reach for a bottle of chemical drain cleaner, then septic trouble is on the horizon. The chemicals in drain cleaner kill the bacteria in your septic tank. These bacteria are necessary to break down the solid waste in the septic tank, and without enough bacteria, your septic tank will fill up prematurely, possibly causing sewage backups.
Most slow drains can be remedied with a plunger. If plunging does not work, try a natural, enzyme-based cleaner that is specifically made for homes on septic.
Using a Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals and septic tanks are not compatible. Any waste put down the disposal sits at the bottom of the tank and takes forever to break down. Unfortunately, some less-scrupulous plumbers do install disposals in homes with septic tanks. If your home has a disposal and you have been using it, then unplug the disposal and start disposing of food waste in the trash.
Rinsing Grease Down the Drain
Pouring grease down the drain has caused massive fatbergs to form in public sewers, such as those in Baltimore. However, grease is just as bad for your septic system as it is for a public sewer.
Grease floats on top of the fluid in your septic tank and takes up valuable tank space, making sewage backups inside your home more likely. The grease may also start leaking out into the drain field, where it coats the soil particles and prevents them from doing their job of filtering the wastewater.
Skipping Pumping Appointments
Most homeowners need to have their tank pumped every two to three years. If you have a large tank and only two or three people living in your home, you may be able to go a bit longer. But in any case, if you can't remember the last time you had the tank pumped or are waiting for a sign that it's time to do so, then you're probably overdue.
When you don't have your tank pumped frequently enough, waste starts entering the drain field, contaminating the soil and interfering with the proper filtration process. And the only solution for a contaminated drain field is to replace the soil — a costly endeavor.
Parking in the Yard
Your yard may look like a convenient spot for overflow parking during parties, but parking over your septic drain field is a big mistake. The weight of the vehicles will compact the soil, making the drain field less able to do its job of filtering and accommodating wastewater.
Flushing Wet Wipes
The package may say "flushable," but these wipes should never go down the toilet, especially when you have a septic tank. They take much longer than toilet paper to break down, so they just sit at the bottom of the tank until you have it pumped. Put wet wipes in the trash if you choose to use them.
If you've made any of the mistakes above, don't feel bad. These mistakes are very common among homeowners with septic tanks, and thankfully, if you change your habits, you can prevent your system from suffering any future damage. If you're worried that bad habits may be having a negative impact on your septic system, contact Stinky's Septic and Carolina Septic. We will inspect your system and, if needed, pump your tank.