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How to make your septic system function efficiently for years to come


Septic systems treating the waste in American homes are wide-spread all over the USA. Septic systems are intended to recycle the wastewater from your home or business facility back into the environment. If you do not maintain the system properly, it can become dangerous for your family, hazardous to public health or the environment, and harmful for neighboring properties.

These systems are really simple by design. The septic system consists of two components – a septic tank and a septic field (also called a drain or leach field). All home drains fall into a single pipe, running to the septic tank that is hidden in the ground outside. The waste water from all your appliances like toilet, shower, sinks and dish washer gets combined when leaving the house. But when it hits the septic tank, it is separated into sludge, liquid and scum. If the system operates efficiently, the bacteria that naturally appear in wastewater break down the sludge and the scum.

The undivided solids settle to the bottom of the tank and require regular pumping to ensure that the system continues to function properly. Any liquid waste in the tank flows out into a network of underground pipes that drain it into the septic field (leach field). The liquid is degraded enough to be well-filtered by good soil. There is enough of organic material left, which acts as fertilizer.

Do not be deceived by the simple design of your septic system. Monitor it before serious problems arise. Fixing big septic problems usually needs thousands of dollars paid for septic system parts and plumbing work. Maintenance of your septic system is the key to prevent serious problems in the future.

For your system to function properly, consider the following tips:

  1. Never tolerate big amounts of fat or grease to enter the system.
  2. Do not allow trucks or heavy equipment to drive over the system simultaneously. Alternate water use such as showers and laundry.
  3. Do not use excessive amounts of laundry soap, detergents, bleach or chemical drain cleaners. These chemicals can kill the friendly bacteria that make your system operate effectively.
  4. Never ignore plumbing leaks. Any leak, including dripping faucets and running toilets, can quickly overfill your system. Always fix these problems as soon as you discover them.
  5. Septic tanks should be inspected on a regular basis and pumped every 3-5 years.
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