Your septic tank is an enclosed sewage system that services your home only. Normal, properly maintained septic systems should only require pump service every 3 to 5 years.
The system consists of a tank, PVC pipe, sand and gravel. The tank may be made out of a variety of materials, including concrete or plastic. Sewage leaves your home and goes into the underground holding tank.
The tank has a baffle in it that keeps solids on one side and allows fluid to flow to the other side. From there, the fluid leaves the tank and enters the drain field through a pipe called a French drain. This pipe has holes in it that allows the liquid to flow into the gravel bed. The liquid then gets filtered by the land in a process called percolation.
As you and your family go about your daily business, you generally will not have to worry about your septic system, as long as you follow some simple rules. These rules include:
- Never flush anything other than septic-safe toilet paper into the system. This means no paper towels, tampons, sanitary napkins, diapers (even if they are labeled as flushable) or anything else.
- Never dump old oil, mineral spirits, paint, paint remover, or paint thinner into the drain system. The tank has natural bacteria in it that helps break down the solids. These materials can kill that bacteria and the septic system will fail.
If you ever have any doubt about whether something can be flushed, just throw it in the garbage. It’s much cheaper to do that than to clog the system and have to have a pump service to come and empty the tank. The worst possible thing is for your septic system to back up into the house. If it ever reaches that point, you may have more serious problems than just having to hire a pump service.
There are some signs that your tank needs service.
- There may be a lot of moisture around the tank cap when there hasn’t been any rain.
- You smell sewage.
- The toilet backs up or overflows for no obvious reason.
- Sometimes you can hear drains gurgling when they normally don’t.
A septic service handles waste water from residential and business buildings. They make use of tank trucks with pumps designed to remove the waste from your septic tank relatively fast. Most companies can provide emergency service for an extra charge. “Emergency service” can even take place during business hours if service is needed right away. So take proper care of your septic system and schedule a pump date. You’ll save money as well as keep your system in good shape.