Care For Your Septic System: Don't Make These Mistakes

If you have a septic system, you rely on it running smoothly to make sure that waste water is properly moved away from your home and processed safely. However, some simple mistakes can compromise your septic system and cause health hazards as sewage and waste water back up into your home or as waste is not properly broken down. 

Here are some common mistakes people make with their septic systems and how you can avoid them.

1. Flushing items that aren't toilet paper.

Many people think that because the septic system isn't hooked up to city water treatment systems, they can use the septic system to process bulkier items like baby wipes, make-up wipes, or feminine hygiene products. However, these will not process properly in the septic system and can cause total system failure. Be strict about your rule to only flush toilet paper. Post signs in bathrooms warning of the danger of flushing anything but toilet paper. 

2. Using bleach and harsh chemicals.

Harsh drain chemicals can be great for clearing a drain clog, but then the chemicals move down into the septic system. A septic system relies on millions of bacteria to help break down the waste in the septic tank or septic field. These chemicals, including bleach, can kill these bacteria and upset the balance. Solid waste will not break down as quickly and back-ups can result as the people continue to shower and flush the toilet. In the worst cases, the drain field for your septic system can fail, requiring complete replacement. Replacement is messy and expensive. 

Instead of using bleach, use green cleaners that are gentler. Even vinegar and baking soda can be an effective cleaning combination that has little lasting effect on the septic system. If you have been cleaning with bleach in the past, talk to a septic service about additives that can help recolonize your system with bacteria. 

3.  Using a disposal and flushing food down the drain.

Your septic system is designed to handle waste materials. Food products do not have the same enzymes are not as processed as waste. They can clog up the septic system and require it to be pumped out much more frequently. Before installing a disposal, speak with your septic system specialist about whether or not the disposal is compatible with your system. Some newer disposals can add enzymes to the food to help encourage better breakdown in the tank. 

Remember that grease is also harmful to your septic system. It coats the pipes and once in the tank it floats to the top and creates a film that bacteria have a difficult time breaking down. Some grease can harden to the point that it completely clogs the septic system, cause raw sewage to back up into the drains. It's better to pour grease into a can or jar and throw it out with your regular trash. If you have a pan with oil or grease in it, let it cool and scrape it out before washing the pan. 

4. Using too much water.

Water use is another problem that your septic system may have trouble with. Generally, it's best to keep showers on the shorter side and to use water-saving appliances. Try not to run water all day long to then allow it to drain into the septic system. Too much water in the system will overload it because there is no waste to offset the increase of liquid; your septic system will be diluted, and it could cause a back up if cannot drain in time. 

For more information on keeping your system functioning properly, contact a septic service in your area. Visit a site like for more information on keeping your septic system healthy.