During the holiday season, family and friends come together to celebrate the joyous occasion of the holidays and not septic system problems. While everyone is in a festive mood, the septic system of the household is often ignored. This can prove to be disastrous for the septic tank system.
The septic system handles the disposal of wastewater from the household. It relies on a combination of soil absorption and physical removal of water from waste to treat sewage before it’s released into the environment. When sewage is not treated properly or excess water is allowed to enter into the system, wastewater may overflow out of the system and pollute water bodies around it. Besides impacting groundwater and surface water quality, disposal of wastewater into storm drains or neighboring water bodies without treatment can also cause illnesses like scabies and hepatitis.
Proper Disposal of Fats, Oils and Grease
Holiday gatherings often result in an increase of FOG (fats, oils and grease) going down the drain. They (cooking oil and other oils) should never be flushed down the toilet or sink drain as they can clog septic tanks and drainfield systems. To keep your septic system healthy during the holidays, avoid introducing fats, oils and grease to your septic system. Have your septic tank pumped out every two to three years to remove solids which also can clog the system. Additionally, installing an effluent screen can help prevent clogging from household waste.
Don’t flush that! What can you flush down the toilet?
The holidays are a time for friends, family, and lots of food. But with all the extra cooking and cleaning that comes with the holiday season, it’s important to be mindful of what you flush down the toilet. The septic system is a delicate balance of bacteria and chemicals that work together to break down the solid waste and keep your plumbing functioning properly. To ensure the health of your septic system, only flush human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. Never flush cooking grease, oil, non-flushable wipes, photographic solutions, dental floss, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, paper towels, pharmaceuticals, or household chemicals. Even wipes labeled as flushable or septic safe should be placed in the trash rather than flushed down the toilet. Additionally, homeowner(s) should avoid chemical drain openers, oil-based paints solvents, and large volumes of toxic cleaners, and even antibacterial soaps that are often left near the faucets for hand washing. Make sure the washing machine is using septic safe detergents that don’t destroy the bacteria in your septic system.
Avoid Your Garbage Disposal
This can be a stressful time for septic system owners. With the extra cooking and guests at your home, it is important to keep your septic system healthy to avoid any costly repairs or clogs. One of the most important things you can do is limit the use of a garbage disposal. Grease, food scraps, and other items that cannot be broken down in a septic tank should not be put in the garbage disposal as they can accumulate and cause a blockage in your septic system. Installing drain strainers over your drains will help catch food scraps and other items before they enter the septic system. Additionally, having your septic tank inspected and pumped out every two to three years is also essential for reducing the chance of system failure or expensive repairs.
Limit Your Water Usage
It is important to take care of our septic system to ensure a clean and healthy environment. In the United States, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water use per day. The extra laundry and high water flow showerheads will add gallons of water to your system possibly overwhelming your septic system’s ability to effectively process waste. To avoid strains on the septic system and keep wastewater flowing efficiently, reduce the amount of showers, dishwashing, and laundry you do each day and spread them over the week during the holidays.
Before the Guests Arrive: Inspect Pipes and Drains
Before the guests arrive, it is a good idea to inspect the septic tank and plumbing lines for any damage, such as cracks or leaks. This will help ensure that the septic system can handle the volume of wastewater generated during the celebration without failing. Also, check for watertight seals on plumbing lines and blockages in drain pipes. These small but vital checks can help avoid potential wastewater-related problems.
Don’t Park on Your Leach Field
Keep your septic system healthy during holidays by following a few safe and simple tips. Avoid parking vehicles or farm machinery on drainfields during holidays, as this can cause clogs and sewage odors, which can damage septic systems. Also avoid parking near the drainfield area when it’s snowing heavily, as this can lead to leach field flooding, which could cause sewage odors and damage septic systems.
Consider constructing patios, decks, and driveways over the drainfield to prevent potential clogages and sewage odors. Furthermore, avoid washing wastewater from septic tank effluent through the drainfield when wastewater is high, as this can cause sewage odors. Look out for signs of a clogged drainfield such as sewage smells, fast-growing grass, slow-running drains, backed-up plumbing, and standing water as these are indicators of a clog in the drainfield.
Additionally, contact your local septic service provider to get on a regular maintenance schedule.
Maintenance, Maintenance, Mainteance
- Inspect septic system once every 1-2 years and clean it every 3-5 years
- Do not flush hazardous materials such as cat litter, coffee grounds, diapers, cigarettes, tampons, condoms, grease, dental floss, baby wipes, paints, thinners, pesticides, oils, medicines into the septic system
- Divert roof drains and surface water away from the septic system
- Use septic system additives allowed by your state to keep the tank and drainfield free of scum and sludge
- Make sure you have an effluent filter installed on your septic system
Maintenance is vital to a septic system’s overall health. However, it’s important to follow the septic system owner’s manual when performing routine maintenance to ensure the system is working properly and keeping sewage bacteria at a safe level.
When inspecting the septic system regularly for signs of scum or sludge layer buildup or leaks, it’s important to use a tool that will not damage the septic tank. A scum pole or sludgepole is a great tool for this purpose as is a scum snake or drain snake. These tools help you carefully inspect septic lines without causing damage.
Additionally, periodic checks of the effluent tank should be performed to ensure it is functioning smoothly. This includes checking the pH levels of the effluent and correcting any imbalances with septic tank additives if needed.
A septic system is a vital part of your home. It handles wastewater from your household and keeps it separate from the drinking water you use every day. By taking care of your septic system, you can avoid system failure and sewage backups in your home. This gives you the best chance of enjoying the holidays without any plumbing or septic-related issues. So, keep things simple this holiday season and follow these tips to ensure that your septic system stays healthy and happy!