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A-1 Septic Tank Service A Homeowners guide to septic tank maintenance

A Quick Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems

Parts of a Septic System

A septic system is responsible for collecting and cleaning household waste. You might think a system this important would be incredibly complex, but the truth is that septic systems are actually quite simple. All septic systems feature three primary components: a sept tank, distribution box, and leech field (also known as a drain field). The septic tank is a pre-cast concrete structure that collects waste. The tank needs to be pumped every three to five years to avoid sewage backup. The wastewater then flows through the distribution box where it is distributed evenly to the drain field. The water then percolates through a thick layer of sand and dirt before returning to the water table.


As a homeowner, you are solely responsible for maintaining your septic system. This doesn’t mean that you can’t hire a septic tank company to maintain your home’s wastewater system, but that the city is not responsible for the condition of your septic system. Without proper maintenance, septic systems can fail. Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and they can spread infection and disease. Fortunately, with the right knowledge, it’s easy to make sure that your septic system continues to work effectively.


Basic Septic Tank Maintenance

Here is a look at what you need to do to maintain your septic system and avoid a septic tank emergency:


  1. Inspect and Pump Frequently

In general, you should have your septic system inspected at least every three years by a professional and your tank pumped as recommended by the inspector (but generally no longer than every five years). A septic tank inspection includes measuring scum and sludge layers and identifying any leaks. You can also inspect your system’s performance by flushing the toilets and checking for signs of backup.


  1. Watch Your Drains

What goes down the drains can have a major impact on how well your septic system works. Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, and paper towels are just a few examples of items that can clog and potentially damage septic system components. Fats, oils, and grease can raise scum layers, so do not dispose of cooking waste down the kitchen drain.


  1. Care for Your Drainfield

You also need to maintain your drain field as part of your normal septic maintenance routine. To maintain your drain field, keep trees and shrubs away from the drain field and don’t drive or park vehicles above your septic system. Also, make sure that roof drains, basement sump pump drains, and other rainwater or surface water drainage systems are directed away from the drain field.


If you can’t remember the last time your septic tank was pumped, hire a company to pump your septic tank before a serious backup occurs. You should also hire a septic tank company to inspect your septic tank every three years to make sure it is working correctly and that it doesn’t need to be cleaned and pumped.


For more information about septic systems read “A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems” by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency



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