By Kelly Rosen, REALTOR® & Top Producer, Atlanta Board of REALTORs
Do you live on land that is not connected to the public sewer system? If you are on a septic system, have you ever researched the do’s and don’ts of living on a septic system? Did you even know there were “rules” regarding septic tanks? I always attend all of the inspections for my clients, primarily because I love to learn, and I learn something new on every single inspection. This blog was born out of my last septic inspection and extensive conversation with Paul at Banks Septic.
Know Where Your Drain Field Is Located: Most septic tanks are installed with a drain field that extends hundreds of feet into the yard. Septic tanks are buried in the ground and are generally 1000 or 1500 gallon tanks. Once the liquid from the home fills the tank (think laundry, showers, dishwashing, etc), the excess liquid flows out into the yard via the drain field. The drain field consists of chambers under ground that carry and distribute the overflow liquid into the yard. Because these chambers are buried under the ground, you will want to make sure you do not drive heavy equipment over the drain field…the last thing you want to do is crush the chambers, which will require the installation of a new drain field (and cost many $$$$).
Do Not Put Food Down Your Drains: Septic systems are designed to filter human waste and water only and it is not recommended that you put anything else down your drain. Believe it or not, the septic system contains living organisms that digest the waste we produce and it is not designed to be a garbage can. Be careful if you have a garbage disposal and make sure that large amounts of leftovers are not going down the garbage disposal into your septic tank. Solids accumulate over time in the tank, and if you add additional solid material that isn’t meant for the septic tank, your tank will need to be pumped more frequently.
Pump Your Tank Every 3-5 Years: Septic systems generally work well for many decades as long as they are properly maintained. Maintenance recommendations from septic companies state homeowners should have their tanks pumped every 3-5 years to prevent excessive buildup of solids. Too many solids in the tank can lead to heavier drain field leaching which could lead to issues with the drain field (and sewage backups in your home—Yuck!).
Watch Your Water Usage, Especially on Heavy Rain Days – Paul informed me that they tend to get more calls on rainy weekends when households are also doing marathon loads of laundry. Be aware of the size of your septic tank and understand that the drain field is only designed to drain a specified amount of liquid….on a heavy rain day, the drain field will not drain as effectively because the ground will already be saturated, and this can lead to backup inside your house. He suggests spreading out laundry over several days each week.
I found a great resource online regarding the Do’s & Don’ts of septic tank living & maintenance…please click on this link for more information: https://www.csrd.bc.ca/sites/default/files/liquid-waste-management/Septic-Smart/Docs/dos-and-donts.pdf
I grew up on a septic tank and have also lived on a lot with a septic tank since 2003 and I haven’t ever had any issues. My family follows all of the rules above and (knock on wood) hopefully our system will remain healthy for decades to come! 😊