What to Do to Maintain a Septic System

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

Maintaining a septic system is crucial for the smooth functioning and longevity of your household's wastewater treatment infrastructure. Proper care and regular maintenance can prevent costly repairs and protect your property and the environment.

From experience of owning multiple homes with septic systems and being a real estate agent for thirty-seven years, septic maintenance is critical.

We will provide a comprehensive guide on septic system maintenance, including the cost of septic tank pumping, and offers valuable tips to keep your septic system in optimal condition.

There are certainly pros and cons to buying a home with a septic system. Keep reading, and we will clear up any mysteries.

Understanding the Septic System

A septic system is an underground wastewater treatment system commonly used in rural and suburban areas not connected to a municipal sewer line. It consists of a septic tank and a drain field.

When wastewater flows from the house into the septic tank, solids settle at the bottom, while oils and greases float to the top. The partially treated effluent exits the tank and enters the drain field, where further purification occurs through natural filtration and microbial action.

Regular Pumping of the Septic Tank

Regular septic tank pumping is one of the most critical aspects of septic system maintenance. Over time, solids accumulate in the tank, reducing its effective capacity and potentially leading to clogs and system failures.

The pumping frequency depends on various factors, such as the tank size, the number of occupants, and water usage.

As a general guideline, pumping your septic tank every three to five years is recommended. Refrain from regular pumping to avoid costly repairs, including drain field failure and septic system backups.

Cost of Septic Tank Pumping

The cost of pumping a septic tank varies depending on several factors, including the region, tank size, accessibility, and the amount of sludge present.

The average cost can range from $200 to $500 or more. It is important to note that this cost is a fraction of the expense of repairing or replacing a failed septic system. Therefore, routine maintenance and pumping are cost-effective investments in the long run.

Septic System Maintenance Tips

Proper septic system maintenance is crucial to its longevity and efficient operation. A few essential maintenance tips can prevent issues, protect your investment, and ensure a healthy septic system.

Not maintaining your system properly can lead to a significant expense. The cost of replacing a septic system can run into tens of thousands of dollars.

The following are some of the key tasks that should be performed regularly to maintain your septic tank in optimal condition:

Be Mindful of Water Usage

Excessive water usage can overload the septic system, leading to potential issues. Install water-efficient fixtures, repair leaks promptly, and avoid running multiple water-intensive appliances simultaneously.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Only flush toilet paper and human waste. Avoid disposing of grease, chemicals, medications, feminine hygiene products, and non-biodegradable items, as they can clog the system or disrupt treatment.

Be Cautious With Landscaping

Avoid planting trees and large shrubs near the septic system to prevent root intrusion into the drain field. Roots can damage pipes and obstruct the flow of wastewater.

Inspect Regularly

Schedule routine inspections by a professional septic service provider. They can identify early signs of problems such as leaks, damaged components, or excessive sludge buildup.

Maintain Drainfield Health

Avoid parking vehicles or placing heavy structures over the drain field, which can compress the soil and impede proper wastewater treatment.

Protect The Tank and Components

Ensure the septic tank lids are secure and inaccessible to children or animals. Avoid driving over the tank or placing heavy objects on top, as this can cause damage.

Essential Tasks to Do Regularly for Septic Tank Maintenance

Regular maintenance tasks are vital to the health and longevity of your septic system. By incorporating these essential tasks into your routine, you can prevent potential issues, extend the lifespan of your system, and avoid costly repairs.

Here are the key tasks you should perform regularly for effective septic tank maintenance:

Regular Pumping

As mentioned earlier, septic tank pumping is a critical maintenance task. The pumping frequency depends on tank size, household size, and water usage. Generally, it is recommended to have your septic tank pumped every three to five years.

Regular pumping removes accumulated solids, preventing clogs and potential system failures.

Visual Inspections

Conduct visual inspections of your septic system at regular intervals. Check for signs of leakage, such as damp or soggy areas near the tank or drain field, foul odors, or sewage backups.

Look for any signs of damage to tank components, including cracks, rust, or loose fittings. Early detection of issues allows for timely repairs, preventing further damage to the system.

Monitor Water Usage

Excessive water usage can overload your septic system and disrupt efficiency. Keep track of your household's water consumption and take measures to conserve water where possible. Repair leaks promptly, install water-efficient fixtures, and educate your family members about responsible water usage practices.

Conserving water benefits your septic system, reduces water bills, and contributes to environmental sustainability.

It is also essential to note that it should be checked regularly if you have well water with a septic system. Buying a house with well water entails monitoring the quality.

Proper Waste Disposal

Ensure that only septic-safe materials are flushed down the toilet or drained into sinks. Use toilet paper specifically designed for septic systems and avoid flushing non-biodegradable items, such as wipes, diapers, or feminine hygiene products.

Additionally, avoid pouring grease, chemicals, medications, or harsh cleaning agents down the drain, as these can disrupt the bacterial balance in the tank and hinder proper waste decomposition.

Maintain Drainfield Health

The drain field plays a crucial role in the final treatment of wastewater. Protecting and preserving the drain field area is essential to maintain its functionality.

Avoid parking vehicles or placing heavy structures over the drain field, which can compact the soil and inhibit the natural filtration process. Keep the drain field free from obstructions such as debris, vegetation, or excessive soil buildup.

Professional Inspections and Maintenance

While regular visual inspections are helpful, engaging a professional septic service provider for a comprehensive inspection and maintenance checkup is crucial.

These professionals have the expertise and specialized equipment to accurately assess your septic system's condition. They can measure sludge and scum levels, check for leaks, inspect the drain field, and perform necessary repairs or maintenance tasks.

Final Thoughts

Proactive septic system maintenance is essential for its efficient and trouble-free operation. Regular septic tank pumping, responsible water usage, and proper waste disposal will help prevent costly repairs and ensure the longevity of your septic system.

While septic tank pumping may vary, it is a minor investment compared to the expenses associated with a failing system. Following the maintenance tips outlined in this guide, you can safeguard your septic system, protect your property, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Posted by

With three decades of experience, Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate sector. Bill writes informative articles for numerous prestigious real estate sites to help buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, Realty Biz News, Credit Sesame, and his own authority resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. Reach out to Bill Gassett for his real estate, mortgage, and financial expertise.

Comments (2)

Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

this is such important information to share with clients who are considering a home with a septic system. 

Jun 29, 2023 05:57 AM
Bill Gassett

Thanks LIsa. So many buyers have no idea how a septic system works.

Jun 29, 2023 10:23 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

For people making their first ventures into a home with a septic system there is a learning curve, but if they get a simple explanation and what it can cost if they are not careful their experiences do not need to be a nightmare.

Jun 29, 2023 11:29 AM