Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department's blog about the environment and how it affects us.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Septic System Care Begins with You
Your septic system is an extremely important part of your home. It needs regular care and maintenance, just like any other large piece of equipment.Many of us learn the hard way when something goes wrong and we have to pay the price to get it fixed while suffering the mess and inconvenience of a malfunctioning system.
Some simple “Dos” and “Don’ts” will help extend the life of your septic system, save on maintenance costs, and protect water quality.
·Inspect your septic system annually. Regular inspections help take care of problems when they are small and less expensive to fix!
·Keep accurate records of your septic system. This includes information such as what typeof septic system you have, where it is located, when it was last pumped (usually every three to five years) and when other maintenance was performed.
·Use less water.Use appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines one at a time and spread out their usage so that you are not using them back to back. This allows time for solids in the septic tank to settle, and keeps too much water at once from overwhelming the drainfield.
·Direct water from downspouts and roofs away from the drainfield.
Keep cars, trucks and livestock off the septic tank and drainfield areas. The soil around the septic tank and drainfield is an important part of the septic system – it does a better job when it is not compacted and the weight from vehicles or livestock can damage casing and pipes of the system.
·Install risers for easier access.
·Choose less toxic household products for cleaning and hobbies.Any labels that says danger or poison can harm the septic system, even those intended to go down the sink.
·Avoid use of garbage disposals because they send solids and grease into your septic system, and that can lead to drainfield failure.
·Don’t use any septic tank additives or “miracle” system cleaners. These chemicals can actually harm your septic system by allowing solids to flow into and clog the drainfield. The chemicals can also contaminate groundwater and surface water.At the very least, these products have not been shown to help septic systems.Save your money for annual inspections.
·Don’t dispose of water from hot tubs into the septic system. Too much water in the system at once is harmful to the system and chlorine can destroy important bacteria in the system. Instead, drain hot tubs onto the ground away from the drainfield.
·Don’t flush solid wastes into the septic system. This includes diapers, wipes, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, tampons, condoms, and grease.
·Don’t put strong chemicals; such as hazardous cleaning products, down the drain. Household chemicals like drain cleaners, paint thinners, and floor cleaners can destroy important bacteria in the septic tank and contaminate groundwater and surface water.
·Don’t construct patios, carports, or use landscaping plastic over the drainfield. Grass is the best cover for your septic tank and drainfield. Compacting the soil and paving prevents oxygen from getting into the soil. This oxygen is needed to breakdown and treat the sewage.