5 Mistakes That Can Shorten The Life Of Your Septic System
Your septic system won't last forever, but if you look after it properly, it can last for a long time. With proper maintenance, your system can last for between 15 and 40 years. However, it's easy to make mistakes that can shorten the lifespan of your septic system. Here are five mistakes that you should avoid making if you want to keep your septic pumping system in good condition for as long as possible.
Forgetting to pump your septic tank
It's easy to forget about your septic tank, after all, it's buried out of sight in your backyard. Even though you can't see it, your septic tank is slowly filling up with waste, and if you forget to get it pumped, the waste will spill out into your drain field. Your drain field is designed to filter water, not solid waste, so this is a recipe for disaster. If your drain field becomes severely clogged with waste, your plumber may not be able to fix it, and you'll need to have a new drain field installed. As a general rule, your septic tank should be pumped once every three to five years though this can vary based on your water usage.
Driving across your drain field
From above, your drain field just looks like a patch of dirt or grass, but you need to treat it more carefully than you treat the rest of your backyard. This means that you shouldn't drive across it with your car, tractor, or any other heavy machinery. The weight of your vehicles can compact the soil which makes it harder for water to absorb into the ground. The pipes that transport water from the septic tank the drain field can also be crushed by your vehicles. Both of these problems will cause serious harm to your drain field.
Paving over your drain field
Paving over your drain field is another mistake. Your drain field needs access to the air so that the water in the soil can evaporate. If the soil is blocked by asphalt, water won't be able to evaporate, and your drain field will stay wetter than it would otherwise be. A saturated drain field is a problem because if the soil stays wet for a prolonged period, a slimy layer of bacteria can accumulate on the soil, which ruins the drain field. If this happens, the fix is usually to replace the drain field.
Using too much water
When your house is connected to a municipal sewer system, you can use as much water as you want, without causing any damage to the system. When you use a septic system, the situation is a lot different. Using too much water will saturate your drain field. In the short term, a saturated drain field can lead to problems like slow drains or water backups in your basement, but in the long term, your drain field can be ruined by the bacterial buildup described above.
Treating your toilet like a garbage can
People flush all kinds of things down their toilets: disposable wipes, feminine hygiene products, kitty litter, and more. This is a big mistake because your septic system isn't designed to break down items that are supposed to go in the trash; it's meant to break down human waste and toilet paper. Flushing these items is a good way to cause clogs inside your system. Disposable wipes are such a big clog hazard that municipal sewers across the country are installing strainers or grinders to handle them. Your septic system doesn't have those safeguards, so flush carefully.
Your septic system can last for decades if you look after it, but it's easy to make mistakes that can ruin your system. If you're experiencing problems with your septic system as a result of these mistakes, make sure to call a plumber right away.