Living a bit off the beaten path can come with tons of benefits but often means trading in connection to a municipal sewer system in favor of a septic system. When they’re properly maintained, septic tanks provide more than adequate waste processing for your household. To keep things running smoothly, though, it’s vital to keep a few dos and don’ts in mind.
- DO: Double-Check Labels – When you’re shopping for toilet paper, make sure you look for brands marked “septic safe.” This means the paper will dissolve easily and require less water for biodegradation.
- DON’T: Dump Household Chemicals – Out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind, especially when it comes to making chemicals disappear down the drain. It’s vitally important to never introduce hazardous waste like gasoline, motor oil or gasoline. Your septic system operates thanks to a delicate balance of bacteria and other microorganisms to break down waste. Dumping chemicals will inevitably disrupt this balance and can be the ultimate kiss of death for your system. Even worse, they can pollute the groundwater and introduce the risk of poisoning the whole neighborhood.
- DO: Minimize Solid Waste – The more solid waste flushed down the toilet, the more likely to need an emergency septic tank cleaning. This is particularly true of cat litter, sanitary napkins and tampons, disposable diapers and coffee grounds.
- DON’T: Dispose of Grease or Fat Down the Drain – Food grease and fat aren’t always easy to dispose of cleanly, but they definitely don’t belong in your septic system. These oils prevent the soil in your drain field from absorbing liquids.
- DO: Run Full Loads for Dishwashers and Washing Machines – The dishwasher and washing machine send a surprisingly large amount of water into your septic system. Running these water hogs at half-capacity means, you’re wasting water and energy, not to mention the strain on your septic tank.
- DON’T: Use Your Garbage Disposal Too Eagerly – While you absolutely can run a garbage disposal system in a house with a septic tank, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re sending through the disposal. Soft, overripe or rotting produce will break down quickly and aren’t likely to wreak any havoc. On the other hand, potato peelings, coffee grounds and hard, long-lasting produce will linger.
- DO: Be Mindful of Cleaning Products – You want a sanitary home, but some cleaning products can cause a major headache when they disrupt microorganism activity in your septic tank. Automatic disinfecting toilet cleaners are a particular menace, as they slowly but constantly release chemicals designed to kill bacteria.
As a rule, it’s a good idea to stop and think about how something might biodegrade in the environs of your septic system. Things you know are slow to decay are never a good candidate for flushing or dumping down the drain. In the meantime, be sure you’re investing in regular maintenance. Need help managing your septic system? Sunset Septic is here to help.