One of the primary responsibilities of a lakefront property owner is to be familiar with and properly maintain their septic system. Also, those planning to buy an existing home or build a new home need to familiarize themselves with the basics of a basic septic sewage disposal system.
Today I would like to post a few words about maintaining an existing system. With the help from our friends at Green Environmental Engineering in Wayne, Maine here's today's Q. and A. on septic systems:
How do I maintain my septic system?
Operation and maintenance of a septic system consists of avoiding or minimizing the disposal of materials that can shorten the life of the system, and pumping the septic tank before solids build up too high in the tank.
The following can shorten the system life or impair its performance:
· The use of a garbage disposal is never recommended with a septic system. Although they are permitted by the state code and special design features can be added to help minimize their impact, they will most likely shorten the life of the septic system to some extent.
· Water conservation, including low water use plumbing fixtures, should be used. Septic systems are designed to handle the water needs of an average user and may not function properly if excessive volumes of water are used. In addition, the system will begin to handle less water as it ages. It is prudent to avoid unnecessary water use with a septic system.
· It is recommended that laundry loads be spread out over more than a single day if many loads are done to avoid overloading the system. It is also recommended that liquid rather than powdered laundry detergent be used because powders contain solid material that can settle out in the septic system.
· Avoid dumping any oil, grease, or fat into the septic system. Although the septic tank is effective in trapping these wastes if they solidify in the tank and float to the top, they can quickly clog the soil of the leachfield if they pass through. Restaurants have historically had septic system problems due to grease in their waste.
· Do not dump any toxic materials down the drain. This includes chorine bleach or other cleaners, chemicals, or petroleum products. The septic system depends on living microorganisms to treat the wastewater before it enters the groundwater. Materials that are dumped in toxic quantities can result in contaminated wastewater seeping into the groundwater or even failure of the septic system.
• The use of septic tank additives is not recommended.
Aside from using the system sensibly, the septic tank will need to be pumped out periodically to avoid accumulated material from washing out into the leachfield. The actual need for pumping varies depending upon use, but is generally recommended about every three years. If a garbage grinder is used the tank should be pumped out every year. Septic tank pumping companies may be able recommend a pumping interval after pumping the tank, and may send reminders that pumping is due. Although there is a cost to pump the tank, it is small in comparison to the cost of a replacement leachfield which could result if pumping is neglected.
I will be posting more information in the days and weeks to come about septic systems, but if you just can't wait until the next post and want to know more about septic systems and how they work, just go directly to the Green Environmental Engineering site at http://mainesepticdesign.com/index.htm . They have lots of great information and are happy to share it with you.
If your looking for a great septic system by a lake in Maine (that happens to come attached to a house!) you might try using our Lakefront Locator, where you can search all of the current lakefront properties in the entire state.