Your septic system is made up of two different components. You have the septic tank and the drain field. The septic tank is designed to trap waste water and allow heavy solids to sink and light solids to float to the surface. The heavy solids will become sludge on the bottom of the tank and the light solids will become scum on the top of the tank. They are trapped in the tank by baffles at the top and bottom of the tank. The remaining waste water is slowly released into a drain field where it is filtered by soil and broken down by microorganisms. If the solids were allowed to enter the drain field, they would eventually clog it, which could cost you thousands of dollars to fix. This is why you should periodically have your septic tank cleaned or pumped to remove the sludge and scum.
Signs That You Might Need A Septic Tank Cleaning
- You have not had the system cleaned in more than 5 years. Regular maintenance is key with septic systems and even if you do not notice problems with your system, this is far too long to go between cleanings.
- Toilets back up or drain slowly. This is an obvious sign of a clogged pipe and trouble.
- Standing water or soggy soil in the drain field. This is a sign that the drain field is clogged and water is not draining properly.
- Heavy sewage odors. A properly running system will be odorless. If you notice odors in your home, near the tank or the drain field, you need to have it checked.
Who Should Clean or Pump Your Septic System
Always hire a licensed septic tank cleaning contractor. When the tank is pumped, it should be emptied completely, leaving nothing in the tank. At this time, make sure that the contractor also inspects the baffles and the overall condition of the tank.
Septic System Care Tips
- Do not use drain cleaners or pour caustic chemicals in your system. These chemicals can kill the helpful bacteria that is in your tank.
- Fix water leaks promptly. Excess water running into the system can overwhelm it.
- Spread out water usage. Do not run your washing machine or dishwasher during peak usage times. Spread out your water usage over the day to avoid overwhelming your septic system.
- Do not use a garbage disposal with a septic system. Adding additional solids into your system will cause the tank to fill up quicker meaning that you will require more frequent pumping.
- Use proper landscaping on your drain field. Grasses and ground cover are acceptable, but avoid planting trees in the area. The roots could damage the pipes located below the ground.
- Have your system pumped on a regular basis. Every two years is a recommended interval.