How To Properly Maintain A Septic System

Posted on: September 14, 2016 by in Emergency Plumber St Louis
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maintain-your-septicA septic tank is typically a very large, underground tank that contains the drainage from all water sources in a home, such as laundry water and toilet water. The inside of the septic tank, the water is basically made up of sections that contain different types of debris that end up in your tank. Solid debris ends up creating a layer on the bottom of the tank, while lighter things, such as grease, collect in a layer on the top. While a lot of the solid debris will break down over time, you still need to follow a few rules to maintain your septic tank to avoid overflow of harmful solids.
The first part of maintaining your septic system is to monitor both the sludge and scum layers yearly. The scum is the layer of lighter liquids, such as grease, that builds up on the top of the tank. The sludge layer is the bottom layer made up of solids that have been broken down. This inspection can be performed by you or you can hire a technician to inspect your tank. For reference, your tank will need to be pumped out if the scum layer is too close to the outlet device. This typically means that scum layer should not be within three inches of the outlet. You would measure from the bottom of the scum layer. If the sludge begins to get too close to the outlet device, you should pump your tank. A good rule of thumb is if the sludge is less than a foot from the outlet device, measured from the top of the layer, your tank should be pumped.

In some cases, a septic system can begin to fail. When this occurs, it is important to contact a septic system company immediately. There are a few signs to look out for if you think your system may be failing. If you notice any changes in the drain field, your system may be operating incorrectly. Changes can include wet spots, smells, pooling sewage, or vegetation growth that is beyond what is considered normal. Another sign of a failing system is backups throughout the system. This can include backups in the plumbing or tank. If you notice gurgling sounds withing your plumbing, your system may not be operating correctly. Another warning sign of a failing system is slow drainage in the plumbing. If your system should fail and solids have made their way into the drainage field, it’s too late to try to pump the tank. That’s why it’s very important to always remember to check tank levels.

To maintain your system at peak performance and avoid high service costs, there are a few things that you should do and avoid with your septic system. Your system should be inspected yearly. Typically, you’ll want to have your tank pumped every three to five years. Based off of the inspection, there could be longer or shorter periods between pumpings. Pump your tank out before you have problems. Try to avoid putting off the pumping as this can result in costly problems. Good record keeping can help out any future owners of your home. If you are having problems with your system, seek professional help. To keep your system going strong, you should avoid having grease and fat, automobile oil or fuel, coffee grounds, disposable diapers, cigarette filters, paper towels, or paints and chemicals in your septic system. The bacteria in your septic tank works to break down solids that are in your tank. If you use chemicals in your home, such as toilet bowl cleaners and waxes, they can hurt the bacteria in your tank.

Having a septic system remain in good condition requires inspections and understanding when something is wrong. To maintain the health of your system, ensure that you’re not doing things that can compromise the system. By following the proper care rules of a septic system, you’ll be able to avoid the very high costs associated with a broken system.

If you need help maintaining, fixing, or replacing your septic system call Emergency Plumber St Louis today at (314) 270-2000 or visit them at

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