Septic Tank Maintenance

While septic systems are designed to last for decades, there are several common problems can arise from a poorly maintained system: an unpleasant septic odor, inadequate filtering of effluent (wastewater), and the leakage or overflow of toxic solids from the septic tank. Every septic system owner should take the following steps to maintain their septic tank.

Pump out your Septic Tank

While recommendations vary, the single most important maintenance task is pumping or cleaning your septic tank out every 2-5 years. This is generally as simple as calling your septic company, and asking them to send a pumper truck around. (Of course, if you don't know where the manhole cover for your septic tank is, this may not be so simple!) They will vacuum out the sludge (called septage) found in your septic tank, and haul it off for disposal at a sewage treatment plant.

After you've had your tank pumped out, be sure to record the date of the pumping, so that you know when to have your septic company come back. Also, be sure to save a diagram that tells you where the manhole cover is located, so that you can find it next time.

Inspect your Tank and Leaching Field

While septic tank inspections such as Massachusett's Title V inspection are required before selling a home with a septic tank, you (our your septic company) should inspect the tank and leaching field each time you get the tank pumped. A number of drainage issues can arise, including overly aggressive root growth, damaged or crushed pipes, and blockage caused by sludge. Left untreated, these issues can cause expensive damage to your absorption field.

Minimize the Waste your Septic System Receives

In addition to regular pumping and inspections, if you can reduce the amount of wastewater and solids that enter your septic system, you can often prolong its lifespan. Common methods include minimizing the amount of water you use, avoiding the use of a garbage disposal (which sends solids into your septic tank) and avoiding the regular repetitive use of chemicals which kill the bacteria your septic system relies on (such as water softeners and drain cleaners).

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