How to Maintain Your Septic Tank System
So you have realized that your septic tank is an important part of your property but how exactly do you maintain it? Much like a car, a little maintenance will go a long way towards the life system. Follow these steps to properly maintain your septic system.
1. Locate Your Tank
While this may seem obvious, finding your septic tank is a little more difficult than what many think. They are buried deep underground and if your house has any age to it there is probably no visible signs as to where your system could be. If you happen to have a basement you can go down and follow your sewer lines out the wall to give you an idea as to where your septic tank might be buried. Otherwise, leave it to the professionals to locate it. They have special tools like an insulated piping they stick deep into the ground to find your tank and all its’s components. Once located make sure you mark it in some way for future reference.
2. Uncover the Manhole and Inspection Ports
More than likely the man hole and inspection ports on your septic tank are buried down with the tank itself. This will require some digging at might be wise to replace with elevated access covers or risers for future inspectors to easily locate your system.
3. Check Your Connections
Since you are already going to all this trouble to check your septic tank system it would be wise to go ahead and check all your plumbing as well. This can be easily done by flushing toilets, running water in faucets, or running a load through the washer to make sure all your plumbing connections are working properly and flowing through your tank.
4. Measure the Scum and Sludge Layers
Now we’re to the nitty gritty. Let us preface by saying you should NOT do this your self. Allow a trained inspector measure your septic tank system. It can be very dangerous to try and do this without training. Inserting a tool through the inspection port, the inspector will measure your tank and see where your levels of scum and sludge lay. This will also include a visual inspection of these levels.
If the sludge depth is equal to 1/3 the liquid depth your septic tank is in need of a pumping. If the tank is 1/3 full in general it also will need to be pumped. It is highly advised to pump your system when the inspector recommends; like mentioned in previous posts a little work now will greatly increase the life of the tank and save you a lot of time and money.
**WORD OF CAUTION**
As mentioned above, ONLY allow a trained professional inspect your septic tank. This is a tank full of waste; toxic gases created by the natural process in the tank can kill in MINUTES. Merely looking down into the tank can be hazardous to your health.
5. Checking your Septic Tank and It’s Drainfield
After checking the scum and sludge layers of the tank the inspector will check for any cracks in the walls and drainfield for any signs of failure. If there are any additional pieces of equipment with your septic tank system, such as a distribution box, drop box, or pump, he will inspect these as well. After a thorough inspection the inspector will give you his recommendation as to what you should do to properly maintain your septic tank.
If you need to pump your septic tank it is very important that you hire a professional licensed contractor. There are many things that could be damaged in the process of pumping your tank, such as the contractor using the inspection port instead of the manhole to pump out the waste. It is recommended to be present at the time the contractor is pumping your tank. Since you are spending all the time and money on getting your tank cleaned, make sure that he pumps it ALL. You do not need to have anything in your septic tank to restart the process inside the tank, nor do you need to scrub or clean the inside of the septic tank.