Basic Septic System Maintenance

What Shape is your septic system in?

A septic system may be out of sight, but it definitely should never be out of mind. By doing the proper standard maintenance and by being more aware of your daily living habits, you will greatly improve the life and health of your septic system. Septic systems need to be monitored to ensure that they work properly throughout their service lives. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property value and could pose a legal liability.

A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected regularly is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system.

Another good reason to maintain your septic system is to protect health and the environment. A healthy system provides for safe treatment of sewage which prevents the spread of infection and disease and protects our water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.

To maximize the life and health of your septic system:

  1. Have your system inspected by a qualified professional regularly.
  2. Have your system pumped regularly.
  3. Treat your system with “BioClean” (a bacterial/enzyme preparation) regularly. Available for purchase from ABC Pumping Service at(208) 954-5339.

Here are some guidelines to help you protect your septic system investment. About 95 percent of the waste that goes into your septic tank is broken down by bacteria and enzymes. The other 5 percent remains in the tank and builds up in the “sludge” layer. Sludge that accumulates in the bottom of the tank must be pumped out periodically. How frequently depends on four major factors: the number of people in your household, the amount of wastewater generated (based on the number of people in the household and the amount of water used), the volume of solids in the wastewater (for example, using a garbage disposal increases the amount of solids), and septic tank size.

There is no additive that you can put in the tank that will deal with sludge.

IT MUST BE PUMPED OUT

Have your septic tank pumped out every 3-5 years (depending on the number of people in the household) to prevent sludge build up which leads to drain field failure. EPA recommends that homeowners have their septic system inspected by a qualified professional at least every three years along with pumping a 1000 gallon septic tank once every 3.7 years in a household of 3 people and once every 1.5 years in a household of 6 people. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components need to be inspected more often, generally once a year.

What Does an Inspection Include?

  • Locating the system.
  • Uncovering access holes.
  • Flushing the toilets.
  • Checking for signs of back up.
  • Measuring “crust” and “sludge” layers.
  • Identifying any leaks.
  • Inspecting mechanical components.
  • Pumping the tank if necessary.

Bacteria and enzymes are necessary for solids digestion. If bacteria-killing products are used in the home, the bacteria must be replenished in your septic tank. Even under the best of circumstances and precautions bacteria can and probably will be depleted in your system. If the bacteria are not replenished, the septic system will fill up with solid material and overflow or wash out into the soil absorption area or drain field eventually clogging the system. Pumping out the septic tank at that point will not restore the system. At that point it will require either one of the drain field repair services that we offer or a new drain field depending on the severity of the problem.