What You Need to Know to Maintain a Healthy Septic System
Your septic tank is designed to break down human waste through bacterial action. The tank should be air tight: no air, no water or light should be allowed to seep in. Anything that goes into your tank that bacterial action cannot break down, will remain in the tank until the next cleaning.
The Health Department recommends that septic tanks be cleaned every 3-5 years, to remove the sludge buildup and other accumulated debris. How often your tank will require cleaning depends on the size of the tank and what you put into it.
You can help your septic system to stay healthy following these simple rules.
- Use household chemicals sparingly.
This includes detergents, bleaches, drain cleaners. Excessive amounts of household chemicals may stop bacterial action in the septic tank, causing the system to fail.
- Use a good quality toilet tissue.
Ideally one that breaks up easily when wet (low wet strength). A good test is to place a handful of tissue in a quart jar half full of water and shake the jar. If the tissue breaks up easily, the product is suitable for your septic tank. Tissue color has no effect on the septic tank, although many scented toilet tissues are undesirable because they have a high wet strength.
- Practice water conservation.
For each gallon of water that flows into a septic tank a gallon flows out to the drain field. If excessive amounts of water are flowing through the system due to irresponsible usage or leaking plumbing fixtures, the bacteria that aids in the breakdown of solids may also be flowing out of the tank before it can do its job, so that you may need to have your septic tank cleaned more often.
Do NOT discharge the following into your septic tank.
- Hair (use strainer caps in sinks, tubs and showers)
- Facial tissue, disposable diapers or paper towels
- Cotton swabs, feminine products or condoms
- Cigarette butts
- Cooking fats, coffee grounds, egg shells or bones
- Paints or chemicals
- Handy wipes or baby wipes