New to Septic Tank Ownership? 3 Things You Need to Know about Your Septic System

If you've never used a septic tank before, you might not know how to care for one properly. That can be a problem, especially if your new home is connected to a septic system. Before you start using your new septic tank, you should take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with some simple safety tips. These tips will help keep your septic tank running properly, and prevent costly problems.

Go Easy on the Water

Your septic system is comprised of two tanks and a seepage field. Everything that's flushed out of your home through the toilet, tubs or sinks. Flows through pipes where it comes to rest in the first tank. The solids drop to the bottom of the first tank and the liquids flow through to the second tank. From there, the liquids flow to a seepage field, where they are absorbed into the ground.

For the septic system to work properly, the liquid must flow through slowly. When too much liquid enters the system, liquids and solids can back-up into your home. When that happens, you might find raw sewage floating in your bathtub. To prevent over-filling the system, simply limit the amount of laundry loads you do each day, or limit showers to 5 minutes each.

Go Easy on the Cleaning Products

Once the solid waste has dropped to the bottom of the first tank, it will begin decomposing. That is, if there is enough bacteria in the tank. Bacteria naturally develops inside the tank. However, cleaning products containing bleach, as well as anti-bacterial soaps can kill the bacteria that's needed to decompose the solid waste. To protect your tank, try to limit your use of cleaning products that contain bleach and other anti-bacterial agents.

Know the Warning Signs of an Over-Filled Tank

If you pay attention to your tank, it will tell you when it needs servicing. Some of the ways it will tell you include

  • Foul drain odors – sewage will back-up into the drains and the odor will flow through the drain pipes
  • Gurgling toilets – as the toilet drain fills, the pipes will have to work harder to push the sewage through, resulting in a gurgling sound each time you flush
  • Wet spots in the yard – as your septic tank gets too full, it will have to find ways to relieve the pressure, such as leaking sewage water into the soil above the tank
  • Raw sewage in the tub – once the septic tank is over-filled, the raw sewage will back-up through the pipes, usually into your bathtub.

You want your septic tank to last as long as possible. The information provided here will help you take care of your septic system. To prevent costly problems, it's a good idea to have your septic tank cleaned at least once every three to five years by a septic cleaning professional.