What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word “septic tank?” If you’re like us, the first thing that comes to mind is Cousin Eddie, from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, standing in the front yard in his bathrobe, draining the septic system of his RV into the drain on the curb. Not the prettiest image, but it sure is memorable!

As funny as Cousin Eddie is, maintaining your septic system is no joke! Understanding how to properly maintain this vital piece of your home’s infrastructure is crucial. Neglecting proper care can lead to costly repairs, unpleasant backups, and environmental contamination.

Understanding the dos and don’ts of septic tank plumbing is essential for the longevity and efficiency of your system and the health and safety of the community. Remember that green gas coming out of the curbside drain as Eddie chugged his beer and smoked his cigar? Yeah, you definitely don’t want to see that… As industry experts, we’re here to tell you, “Be informed. Don’t be a Cousin Eddie!”

Here are some valuable guidelines to follow for proper system upkeep and waste disposal:

Do Schedule Regular Septic Tank Inspections and Maintenance

Regular inspections by professional septic tank plumbers are key to identifying potential issues before they escalate. Aim to have your septic tank inspected every 3-5 years, or more frequently if advised by your plumber. Septic system maintenance tasks, such as getting your septic tank pumped every 3-5 years (depending on household size and usage), are vital for preventing buildup and ensuring the system operates smoothly.

Do Watch Your Water Usage

Excessive water usage can overload your septic system. Be mindful of water consumption habits, fix leaks promptly, install low-flow fixtures, and space out heavy water usage activities (like using your washing machine) throughout the week. Conserving water not only benefits the environment but also eases the strain on your septic system. 

Do Properly Dispose of Wastewater and Waste Materials

Unlike the sewer system, which flushes wastewater and any solids you may have flushed out to a central processing facility, what you flush on a septic system stays in your septic tank. Only flush toilet paper and human waste down the toilet. Flushing items like feminine hygiene products, dental floss, cat litter, and other non-biodegradable materials can clog the system, resulting in costly calls for septic and plumbing services. Additionally, never pour grease, oil, coffee grounds, or harsh chemicals down drains, as these can hinder the bacterial breakdown of waste within your septic tank.

Do Be Cautious with Garbage Disposals and Drain Cleaners

Garbage disposals can introduce solid waste into your septic tank, leading to potential clogs or increased sludge buildup. Minimize disposal usage or opt for composting organic waste instead. Similarly, avoid using chemical drain cleaners as they can disrupt the functionality of the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank.

Don't Overload Your Septic System

Be mindful of what goes down your drains. Coffee grounds, large amounts of food scraps, and excessive use of washing machines can strain your septic system by increasing solid waste and water flow into the tank. Dispose of coffee grounds in the trash and avoid overwhelming the system with too much laundry all at once.

Don't Use Your Toilet as a Trash Can

Flushing inappropriate items like paper towels, diapers, or sanitary products can lead to blockages and system failure. Even supposedly “flushable” wipes can cause problems because they do not break down as effectively as toilet paper. If you’re committed to properly maintaining your septic system, stick to flushing only human waste and toilet paper.

Don't Forget About the Drain Field

The drain, or leach field, is an integral part of your septic system that helps to remove any remaining bacteria or organic contaminants leftover in the water released by your septic tank. Avoid parking cars or placing heavy structures over this area as it can compact the soil, disrupt drainage, and damage the pipes, impacting the system’s efficiency.

Don't Neglect Regular Maintenance Tasks

Ignoring maintenance can be detrimental. Neglected septic systems are more prone to issues such as backups, foul odors, and total system failure. Follow a proactive approach by scheduling regular inspections, making a schedule to pump your septic tank, and addressing minor issues promptly.

In conclusion, responsible septic tank and plumbing practices are essential for maintaining a properly functioning system. Regular inspections, cautious wastewater disposal, mindful water usage, and avoiding harmful materials are the cornerstones of effective septic system and septic tank maintenance. By adhering to these dos and don’ts, you can ensure that your septic system operates efficiently, reducing the risk of costly repairs and environmental hazards.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a professional who specializes in septic tank and plumbing services for guidance tailored to your system’s specific needs. This will help to achieve optimal performance and longevity. Prioritize the health of your septic system by implementing these best practices to safeguard your home’s wastewater management infrastructure today.

If you’ve got questions or are currently dealing with a septic system issue, contact us today!

Our team of skilled plumbing experts is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with no after-hours or weekend fees. We guarantee that if you call today, it’ll be fixed today, so give us a call to get things flowing smoothly again in no time at all!