3 Tips to Avoid Septic Backups

A running shower with a blue and white curtain - may cause septic backups

As a homeowner with a septic system, you already know that the mere thought of septic backups is a nightmare, and you likely want to do everything you can to minimize the potential of one occurring. Dealing with nasty odors, costly repairs, and potentially dangerous contamination are things no homeowner wants to experience. With a bit of knowledge and a commitment to regular maintenance, you can avoid septic backups while helping your system continue working as designed. 

  1. Invest in Regular Pumping and Maintenance: Regular pumping and maintenance is the first and most effective line of defense against septic backups. As solid waste and sludge accumulate in your septic tank over time, its capacity to store and treat wastewater effectively is diminished.
    As a general guideline, it’s recommended to have your septic tank pumped every 3-5 years, depending on usage habits and household size. With routine pumping, it’s easier to prevent the buildup of solid waste that can clog your system and lead to backups. As with so many other areas of homeownership, preventative maintenance is far preferable to unexpected, costly, and messy repairs. 
  2. Be Mindful of Your Water Usage: Your septic system isn’t just responsible for processing what gets flushed down toilets; it also manages anything that goes into a drain. Excessive water use can overwhelm your system; even small leaks and drippy faucets can add up to a significant amount of water over time.
    Low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets can support your efforts by significantly reducing water consumption without sacrificing performance. It’s also a good idea to avoid simultaneous use of water-dependent appliances; don’t run the dishwasher at the same time you’re washing laundry, for example. 
  3. Use Proper Caution with Chemicals: You know it’s vital to be safe about the storage and use of household chemicals, especially when children and pets are in the home. You may not realize, though, that your septic system can also be affected by them.
    Your septic system relies on beneficial bacteria to break down waste; bleach, antibacterial cleaners, and strong solvents can affect that bacterial balance. It’s a good idea to ensure you’re using septic-safe cleaning products, but it’s vital to avoid dumping large quantities of chemicals down the sink or toilet. 

Keeping Septic Backups at Bay 

In addition to being mindful of how your household uses water and harsh chemicals, it also pays to stick to one straightforward and easy-to-follow rule for toilets: flush waste and septic-safe toilet paper only! Feminine hygiene items, diapers, and even wipes that are marketed as flushable can all cause septic backups because those items do not break down inside the tank. Watching what you flush and following these three tips can significantly reduce your risk of experiencing a stressful and often downright disgusting septic failure or backup. 

Regular inspections and maintenance aren’t just a good idea for preventing septic backups; they’re also a critical part of staying on the right side of the law. In Wisconsin, all septic systems of any age must be inspected by a qualified professional at least once every three years. As long as you comply with the state inspection requirements and are thoughtful about what goes down your drains and toilets, you can enjoy many years of catastrophe-free septic system ownership. 

Whether you’re purchasing a new home with a septic system for the first time or have decades of experience living with and maintaining one, Sunset Septic can help you stay legally compliant and mess-free. Don’t wait for a septic backup to happen; take action now to support your system before disaster strikes. 

Share This Resource