Septic tank-soil absorption systems are relatively inexpensive and are easy to maintain. They are the most common onsite wastewater treatment systems used in rural areas. However, there are many households for which a septic system may not be the best wastewater treatment option.
For example, septic systems are not suitable for every lot. In fact, approximately two-thirds of all the land area in the U.S. is estimated to be unsuitable for the installation of septic systems. Some homes may not have enough land area or appropriate soil conditions to accommodate full sized soil absorption drain field. In some communities, the water table is too high to allow the drain field to give adequate treatment to the wastewater before it is returned to the groundwater. There is also the possibility of the homeowner living in a wooded area and not wanting to clear enough space to install the conventional septic system.
Ten simple steps you can take to keep your septic system working properly:
- Locate your septic tank and drainfield. Keep a drawing of these locations in your records.
- Have your septic system inspected at least every three years.
- Hire an InterNACHI inspector trained in septic inspections. Pump your septic tank as needed (generally, every three to five years).
- Don't dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.
- Keep other household items, such as dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, and cat litter out of your system.
- Use water efficiently.
- Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the system. Also, do not apply manure or fertilizers over the drainfield.
- Keep vehicles and livestock off your septic system. The weight can damage the pipes and tank, and your system may not drain properly under compacted soil.
- Keep gutters and basement sump pumps from draining into or near your septic system.
- Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to your system.