As a new homeowner, you may be surprised by a few things you didn’t think about when you were a renter. For example, you may have your own private well for water, and the home you buy may have its own septic system.
Homeowners who don’t live directly in a city will typically find homes that have their own private systems, and the septic system will require some regular maintenance. Perhaps you know the basics – that your septic tank must be pumped. But there are other things you should do to promote beneficial bacteria growth and prevent water overload.
Keeping your system healthy saves money in costly repairs caused by destructive septic back-ups, and it can even prevent your system from completely failing. Putting in a new septic system is very costly, so good care is important.
Here’s how to care for your home’s septic system:
- Depending on the number of people in your household, the size of your holding tank, and the health of your leach field, get your septic system pumped every year or two. Ask the professionals who do the pumping what timeframe is recommend.
- Limit what you put into the septic tank. Do not flush tampons, baby wipes, paper towels, or even tissues in the toilet. Even the flushable toddler wipes take 3 years or more to break down. These type of items clog septic tanks and eventually cause back-ups because they do not break down like toilet paper.
- Septic companies often can supply a monthly capsule you add by flushing into your tank that promotes good bacterial growth. It can be worth the investment to promote the breakdown of solids.
- Clean bathrooms more often with gentle products. Reduce use of super tough cleansers - they tend to kill off good bacteria.
- Avoid drain cleaners. While a little bleach won’t hurt the system or harm the good bacteria, a teaspoon of chemical drain cleaner can kill the beneficial bacteria in a septic tank instantly. In fact, it takes two gallons of bleach to equal its destructive power.
- Use less water by fixing any leaky faucets, doing large laundry loads versus several small ones, and wait until the dishwasher is full before running it. The amount of water going into the septic system impacts how well it functions.
- Do not flush antibiotic medicines down the toilet. They are harmful to bacteria growth. Unused medications should be returned to the pharmacy, doctor, or thrown away in the trash.
- Never dispose of grease or cooking oils down the sink’s drain. Dump them outside or let it set and put it in the trash. Any kind of oil or grease can block drainage into the leach field and slow waste from breaking down.
As a homeowner, you may find yourself responsible for taking care of a septic system. Just a few precautions and protective measures can support smooth operation, saving costly repairs and unpleasant back-ups.