If you rely on a septic tank instead of a municipal sewer system, you’ll need to be a little more careful about what you flush down your drains and how you maintain your home and yard. A septic tank can be temperamental, and any abuse or untreated problems can turn into expensive nightmares very quickly.
Remember that the following things are no friends to your septic tank:
1. Too many solid, non-degradable objects taking up space inside the tank
2. Too much water flowing into the tank or surrounding it from the outside
3. Anything that might kill the healthy bacteria and other microbes that keep your septic tank running properly.
To avoid these problems, follow a few simple recommendations. First, keep excess water away from and out of your system. This means using water conservatively by installing low flow showerheads and low flow toilets, and doing laundry no more than once a week. It also means keeping an eye on your drainfield and making sure it doesn’t get soggy. Don’t let landscaping features, poorly placed gutters, or drainage problems flood your tank.
Second, don’t flush cat litter, diapers, tampons, coffee grounds, cigarette butts or paper towels down the toilet. As a rule of thumb, don’t flush anything if it takes up space and won’t quickly degrade.
And finally, don’t flush anything that might harm your beneficial microbes. This can include cleaning supplies, bleach, cleaning supplies with bleach in them, heavy detergents, and hazardous chemicals. You don’t want these things to enter the groundwater, and you also don’t want them to sabotage your septic tank function. Greasy items can be a problem as well, since they can clog your drainfield and prevent water from getting out of your tank.