Summer is the time for vacations, backyard barbecues, and relaxing by the pool – not the time you want to be worrying about your septic tank system. If you frequently entertain guests and have more people using your water facilities (toilets, dishwasher, showers, washing machine, etc.) then you may be unknowingly putting a strain on your septic tank system. This could lead to septic tank overflow, a saturated disposal area, unpleasant odors, and/or water pollution. Keep these tips in mind as you enjoy a healthy and safe summer.
1. If it didn’t go through your mouth – Don’t flush it.
A good rule of thumb is not to flush things into the septic that did not go through your mouth (except toilet paper). Your system likes items that will easily decompose. In the long term it will help your septic system to work longer with less maintenance. Summer is a great time for you and your family to review the list and share it with your guest. Avoid flushing:
- Cat litter (even “flushable” types)
- Cigarette butts
- Coffee grounds
- Grease and Oils
- Cotton swabs
- Dental floss
- Disposable wipes
- Feminine hygiene products / tampons
- Paper towels
- Static cling sheets
These items will quickly fill your septic tank with solids, decreasing its efficiency, and require it to be pumped out more frequently. They could also clog your septic system components or otherwise cause a system failure and a big mess.
2. Park vehicles away from the septic system.
Be sure you know where your septic system is located. And keep all vehicle traffic off the tank, pipes, and drain field/soil treatment area. The only exception is the lawn mower.
The area should remain clear of all heavy equipment, vehicles (including 4-wheelers), livestock, boats, and motor homes. The pressure from the vehicles can compact the soil or damage the system pipes resulting in costly repairs.
3. Pump your system before the party.
Check to see when the last time your septic tank was pumped. If you don’t know or if it has been more than three years, chances are it’s time for an inspection. You can greatly reduce the likelihood of failure, avoid costly repairs, and gain peace of mind by having your system regularly inspected and pumped as needed.
If you are hosting a large number of people, consider pumping your septic system prior to the party. The worst type of party foul is a leaky smelly mess in your yard. You may also consider renting a Honey Bucket portable toilet for the event to take the pressure off your septic system.
4. Landscape with love.
Summer may be the right time to do some landscaping renovations in your yard. But be mindful of any new plantings. Grass is the ideal cover for drain fields. You can also plant other very shallow-rooted plants or flowers. However keep in mind that if you don’t have risers installed, you will need to dig up the ground to access the tanks for inspection and pumping—generally every 3 to 5 years.
Avoid deep rooted plants, trees, shrubs, and vegetables over your system. As a general rule, trees and large shrubs should be kept at least 30 feet away from your drain field (depending on the root structure and soil type). Do not fertilize over the drain field.
Summer may come and go but proper maintenance can lead to a healthy and happy septic system that will last throughout the year. For more septic care tips to practice year-round click here.