If you live outside of a major urban area or decided to build your home off-grid, then chances are you may have a private septic system. These are often far less expensive to install than sewer lines and some homeowners have mastered the art of using gray water and effluent to create beautiful gardens. However, how long homeowners can enjoy these benefits come down to how well they care for their septic tanks. Here are some tips to extend the lifespan.
Make Good Use of the Effluent
One way that homeowners help to keep tank levels low is by using the fertile liquid that collects between the sediment that floats to the bottom and the froth that rises to the top in a septic tank. Horticulturalists recommend this most for flowers, trees and other inedible plants. However, some homeowners who are experienced gardeners do know the proper requirements to use effluent to fertilize edible gardens.
Beware of What Goes Down the Sink
When people are used to public sewer systems, the rules against what can go down the drain for a private septic system may seem too restrictive. However, these restrictions become easier to follow over time. Here are a few items you should reduce or prevent from going down the sink:
- Non-flushable baby wipes
- Cooking grease or oils
- Coffee grounds
- Paper towels
- Hair clippings
- Dental floss
Pump or Empty the Tank
Finally, and perhaps the most important, homeowners should regularly pump or empty the septic tank. Failure to do so may cause the tank to back up and flow into the yard, or worse, into your home. Sewer water is a contaminant and cleanup is costly. How often you should empty the tank varies based on the size of the tank versus the size of your household, but the general rule of thumb is once every three to five years.
Caring for a private septic system is a lot easier than most people may think at first. If homeowners keep up with the required maintenance, their septic system can last for up to forty years.