Routine Maintenance: Simple Steps to Protecting Septic Tanks

Thanks to Roto-Rooter for sponsoring this series on home plumbing maintenance! Opinions are my own.

Are you familiar with a septic system? Where I live, these are common tools to providing waste water solutions for those in the rural areas. Most people aren't really sure how they work, however, so we're going to give you a primer in septic care!

What is a septic system?

A septic is an underground waste-water treatment system. It works much in the same way as the large above-ground treatment plants, but everything is contained on your property. You won't see much that's going on with your system, but you'll know when it is working (and when it isn't.)

As you use water, it goes through your plumbing into the septic tank outside. Solid materials fall to the bottom, allowing the water to stay toward the top, where it moves through the system to another chamber in the septic tank, and then eventually a leach field (series of pipes that disperse the cleaner water across a large area of underground soil), or a cesspit (large tank that allows the water to seep out over time.)

It works quite well, and without dangerous chemicals. The solids continue to breakdown over time, through the natural bacteria found in the waste water. Anything that can't be broken down (oils, for example) sit until it's time to have the tank pumped by a professional.

How do you take care of your septic system?

There are a few things you can do to make sure your septic functions at peak performance. First, avoid harsh chemicals, such as bleaches, in your waste water. This can kill off the good bacteria that works to breakdown wastes. It will then cause your tank to fill up with solids too quickly and need more frequent pumping.

You'll also want to be sure to add a "helper" to the system every now and gain. Roto-Rooter makes a septic care product that we use regularly (just pour it down the toilet according to directions) and it contains an enzyme to help break down paper clogs, grease blockages, and and starch. It will encourage the growth and health of the bacteria needed to keep your septic tank running well. You'll need fewer pumpings and have less chance of a dangerous blockage.

Be sure you schedule a septic pumping at least once a year, even more for larger families who use a lot of water (like ours) or for smaller tanks. If your leach field isn't it tip-top shape, you may need it pumped even more often.

What are the trouble signs of a septic system?

If you find that your drains aren't working well, you hear "bubbling" in your waste pipes, you smell a funny smell near your septic, or have squishy ground near your septic, try using the Roto-Rooter Septic Care, and if that doesn't work, call a professional right away. Your septic tank should last many years, but a leak, break, or overflow can cause bad problems that need addressing. Don't ignore these red flags!

I've never had a regular sewer hook-up, so I've gotten used to the routine of checking on and caring for my septic system. It's not that scary once you get the hang of it, and a well-cared for septic tank can last a good, long time!

Like this? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get more of the goodness, plus exclusive giveaway offers!