Homeowners that properly maintain their septic system year in and year out will have a system that is functional for decades. Its key to ensuring longevity that your septic system is regularly maintained and does not go unnoticed. Any homeowner should understand the basic components that your septic system is made up of and the importance of regular maintenance and pumping. Before one can truly understand how important their septic system is, they must first know the different components of the home's septic system is comprised of.
• Pipe – The pipe connects your household water to the septic tank.
• Septic Tank – This is a container that is buried in the ground. It is generally made from concrete and is watertight. Its primary function is to separate the wastewater and solids, then break down the solids and pass the wastewater to the drain field. The solids that are not broken down remain within the septic tank until it is pumped.
• Drain field – This is where the wastewater is directed after it leaves the septic tank. When the drain field has too much liquid, it floods, which results in plumbing back-ups.
• Soil – When the wastewater makes it way through the drain field, it seeps into the soil around it, which is the last step in the treatment and disposal process.
Importance of Regular Septic System Pumping
One of the primary reasons a septic system fails is because it is ignored and not regularly pumped. Dangerous pollutants, such as viruses, bacteria, phosphorus and nitrogen build up when the tank is not emptied over a period of time. A properly functioning system will remove these pollutants. In addition, when a septic system is pumped regularly, water resources are protected and the spreading of disease and infection is prevented. When your system is not regularly pumped, there is the chance of contamination of the groundwater, which further poses a risk of contaminating drinking water. Additionally, when septic systems are properly maintained, homeowners save money as septic systems and the components are expensive to repair when issues due to lack of maintenance do occur.
"Home's that do utilize a septic tank must be properly maintained and inspected in order to work efficiently year round."
What Homeowners Need to Know About Septic Tank Pumping
Inspection and pumping of a home’s septic system should be performed at the very least of every three to five years. This is very important to the overall function and life of the septic system. The frequency of pumping varies from household to household and is influenced by the following factors:
• Number of people in the home
• Amount of wastewater generated
• Volume of wastewater solids
• Size of the septic tank
Understanding the Process of an Inspection
Because an inspection is necessary every few years, it is important that homeowners are aware of what an inspection actually consists of. Below are the primary steps that an inspector will take when they arrive to inspect and/or pump your septic system:
- Locate the system.
- Uncover the access holes.
- Flush the toilets.
- Check for signs and symptoms of back-ups.
- Identify any present leaks.
- Inspect all mechanical components of the septic system.
- Measure the layers of sludge and scum (solids in the septic tank).
- Pump the septic tank, if necessary.
Symptoms and Causes of Septic System Failure
There are a number of signs that point to a failing septic system. One of the most obvious is muddy soil in the basement or around the perimeter of the septic system. Another common sign is sink or toilet back up when the laundry or toilet water is running. An additional indicator that homeowners may notice is a strong foul odor seemingly coming from the pipes. Unfortunately, more often than not the damage is already done when this foul odor is present.
A variety of common household items and utilities may also negatively affect your septic systems functionality. These include water softeners, garbage disposals and hot tubs. In addition, a number of harsh household cleaners (anything that says “poison” or “danger”), household toxins (oil-based solvents, paints, etc.), also cause additional strain and potential damage on your septic tank.