The major maintenance that a septic tank requires is pumping. A specialist will come in and pump the tank, removing the solids that have settled to the bottom along with the scum that floats to the top. In most cases, with regular use, a septic tank needs to be pumped every three years or so. However, there are a few habits which may cause your tank to require more frequent pumping. If you engage in any of these habits, you are best off having the tank pumped once a year.
Using a Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals are really not the best idea when you have a septic tank. All of the food scraps that you grind up end up taking up room at the bottom of the tank. The tank then fills up more quickly than if you were to only be flushing human waste. Plus, food scraps take longer to break down in the tank than does human waste. If you have a garbage disposal, it's best to only use in on special occasions or for small amounts of food waste. If you really want to do what's best for your septic system, stop using it entirely.
When you use feminine hygiene products such as tampons, you should dispose of them in the trash. These items' packages may claim that they are flushable, but even if they make it through your drain pipes without a problem, they will cause trouble with the septic tank. The cotton from which these items are typically made does not break down like toilet paper and human waste do. The tampons will just keep stacking up until you have them pumped out.
Cotton swabs, cotton pads, condoms, and other hygiene items—other than toilet paper—can cause similar trouble and should always go in the trash instead of the commode. Also, choose septic-safe toilet paper to help extend the time between pumping appointments. This sort of paper breaks down more readily.
Putting Grease Down the Drain
You should never, ever put grease down the drain, primarily because it can clog your pipes. But should it happen to make it all of the way down the pipes without causing a problem, it will float and take up space in your septic tank. If the grease level gets too thick, it may block the outflow pipes, preventing water from entering the drain field as it should. There's no way to fix this except pumping the tank, and if you don't have the tank pumped soon enough, the drain field might become grease-logged, which would require that you replace the soil.
Dumping Coffee Grounds Down the Drain
The drain may be the easiest place to plop your coffee grounds after brewing, especially if you use a French press or aeropress without a filter to trap the grounds. However, while coffee grounds are biodegradable, they take a really long time to break down. They will take up space in your tank, just like food scraps and feminine hygiene products. Dispose of your coffee grounds in the garbage can. You can try keeping a separate little bucket on your counter to hold the grounds if this seems easier. Some people add the grounds to their compost heap; they contain nitrogen, which is vital for all garden plants and flowers.
If you engage in any of the above habits, you have your choice: have your tank pumped at least once a year to prevent backups, or change your ways. Curbing any of these habits is not very hard and is a great way to save money and space out your septic maintenance. For additional information, contact a company like Eckmayer Inc.