Septic systems need routine maintenance by a professional and careful monitoring by the homeowner. Here are some handy do’s and don’ts for keeping your system performing at its peak (tips on aerobic systems here).
DO have your septic tank cleaned and pumped on a regular basis by a registered and licensed septic tank service company (and make sure they are disposing of the waste in a manner approved by EPA and TCEQ).
The longevity of a septic system depends on its usage and maintenance. The tank should be pumped and cleaned every 3 to 5 years, depending on the size and usage of the system. This is to prevent sludge from entering the drainfield, which can lead to system failure. When a garbage grinder is used, more frequent cleaning will be required.
DON’T treat the system as city sewer. Economy in the use of water helps prevent the overloading of a septic system that could shorten the life of the system and necessitate expensive repairs. Leaky faucets, running commodes and other malfunctioning equipment should be carefully guarded against.
DO maintain the area where the septic tank and drainfield are located. For a period of time after the installation, the soils will settle. Filling and leveling of the area should be maintained so that rain and surface water will not enter the drainfield and cause flooding. Use good soils for leveling.
Grass cover is required over the area of the drainfield. If you have an automatic yard sprinkler, set it for shorter periods of time so that you don’t flood the drainfield by over watering.
DON’T flush anything except toilet paper and wastewater. Items flushed down the commode do not disappear; they must be treated by the septic system. Things that harm your system include:
DON’T build any structure over the tank or the drainfield. The structure will prevent access to the system for maintenance, reduce the ability of water to evaporate from the soil, and restrict air movement into the soil.
DON’T drive heavy equipment over the components of the system. Heavy equipment can crush the components and lead to expensive repair.
DON’T use additives. They are not necessary for a septic tank to operate, and some may even harm the system’s operation by liquefying the sludge in the tank and carrying it out into the drainfield, causing system failure. Natural bacteria are present in the wastewater to decompose the waste.
DON’T overuse soaps, detergents, bleaches, drain cleaners and other household cleaning chemicals, as they can harm the microbes living in the system. Use these chemicals moderation.