Care and Maintenance for Your Septic System

Care and Maintenance for your Septic SystemMost homeowners don’t give much thought to where waste water travels.  But if you’re a rural homeowner living off of well- or tank-water, maintaining your septic system is important for healthy living.  Septic systems are a great way to avoid the miles of sewer pipe used in urban living and are a cheaper and more efficient way to recycle water used on a daily basis without expensive treatment plants.

Your septic system is comprised of two parts: a separation tank and an absorption field.  The separation tank is a water holding tank that allows for solid mass, bio-matter, and general sludge to settle, separating into layers of water, sludge, and scum.  Bacteria work to break down the solid mass over time while the clarified (cleared or cleaned) water drains out into the absorption field where the water is filtered naturally before trickling back into the water table.

Septic System Maintenance

Many people assume that, as long as the pipes haven’t backed up, the septic system will take care of itself.  While this is mostly true, the well-being of your septic system is based on how often you use it and what is being sent into the tank.  It’s important to follow a few basic practices to make sure that plumbing and septic problems don’t occur at all.

Get and Inspection.  Septic tanks age over time.  The pipes can wear out over time or be filled with tree roots.  Getting an inspection every three to five years is important for catching problems in advance.

Pump out the tank.  As good as the bacteria in your tank are, they can’t break down all of the bio-matter that’s flushed into the tank.  If you haven’t had your septic system pumped out in the last five years, it’s a good idea to have it inspected and pumped.  If you wait too long, the solid refuse and sludge can begin to drain out with the clarified water.

Keep good records and always consult a professional.  You should know very clearly where your septic tank and absorption field are.  You don’t want to accidentally dig into them or park something heavy above them.  If there is a problem, don’t turn to home wisdom, consult a professional for a proper repair.

Make sure your absorption field is covered properly.  The only thing you should use to cover your field is grass.  Never drive over the field or store vehicles or heavy items on top of the field.  Planting anything other than grass can lead to roots burrowing into the pipeline and clogging it, while heavy objects can damage the drain pipe.

Watch What You Flush

We’re often so ready to dispose of things that we forget they have to end up somewhere.  It doesn’t matter where you live, you should never flush or drain:

  • Fats or grease
  • Oils and fuel
  • Diapers or wet wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Paints or chemicals

Just because an item says “flushable” does not mean that it’s safe for either a municipal sewer system or your septic tank.  In fact, for a septic tank you should almost never use anything you’d send down a garbage disposal.

Of course, if you decide to flush or drain any of these, you’ll find yourself needing to pump out your septic tank for more often.  Avoiding flushing these and reducing the amount of water you use on a daily basis can prolong the life of your septic tank and reduce the frequency necessary septic pumping.


When you need a septic system or sewer line repair, Metro Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning is the service company you want!  Call us today at (423) 616-1025!

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