Septic tank in a residential yard.

Septic Tanks: Care, Maintenance, and Repair

A septic tank provides a wastewater treatment alternative if your home is not located in an area with access to a municipal sewer system. Instead of funneling your home’s wastewater down a sewer line and into the sewer, a septic tank treats wastewater right on your property, removing debris and other solids for retention inside the tank and returning the treated water to the environment through a series of perforated pipes, which allow the water to soak back into the soil naturally. Septic systems can be extremely convenient, economical, and easy to maintain, but regular care is needed to keep your septic system in good shape and working consistently for your home.

Caring for Your Septic Tank

The amount of care your septic system needs will depend on several factors. These factors include the age of the system, the size of your home and the number of people currently occupying it, and the percentage of solids you flush down your drains—if you have a kitchen disposal and use it regularly, it can increase strain on the system and require more frequent maintenance. Using products that are septic-friendly and taking care to reduce the amount of solids in your wastewater can help your septic tank function more efficiently. However, regardless of usage, your septic tank will need regular pumping services to remove the built-up solids that result from the treatment process. Your plumbing service can help you develop a schedule for regular pumping based on your specific needs to address this buildup whenever it reaches sufficient volume. Additionally, you should schedule an annual septic tank inspection to ensure the system is healthy and working properly, even if you haven’t experienced any issues with the tank or drain field. Finally, you’ll need to take care of your drain field, which also plays an important role in your septic system’s function. Never drive or park over the drain field and avoid planting trees or shrubs over the field, as plant roots can pose a threat to the drainpipes. You should also avoid draining gutters into your drain field—instead, point downspouts away from the field and avoid activities that require significant water usage in this area.

Septic Tank Repairs

Knowing the signs that your septic system is struggling is the best way to avoid serious problems and major backups. Some of the top signs that your septic system isn’t working properly include gurgling sounds coming from toilets and other drains, slow performance from multiple drains in your home, and sewage backups that occur while using water or appliances such as your washing machine and dishwasher. Raw sewage odors in your home or on your property indicate drainage problems; damp, spongy soil over your drain field, the appearance of standing water, or isolated patches of overgrowth in your yard can also signal a septic system problem that should be addressed by a professional. As soon as you notice a problem with your septic system’s normal function, it’s time to call in your plumber for help. Putting off septic repairs or pumping will only cause further damage to the system and result in worse backups, which can damage your yard and your home, as well as put your family at risk for bacterial or viral infections that can be transmitted through contact with untreated sewage.

Are you familiar with your septic tank and how to care for it?

  • Not at all - in fact, I think we’re overdue for an inspection and pumping.
  • We have our septic tank inspected and pumped periodically, but not every year.
  • We’ve tried to stay on top of our septic tank’s care—my plumber is a great help!