Septic System Brochure: Operation and Maintenance
After the septic tank system is placed in service, proper operation and maintenance of the system will ensure continued efficient service and prevent sudden replacement expenses.
The septic tank and drainfield are designed and installed to handle a maximum calculated daily sewage flow. Consistently exceeding the design flow will eventually overload the system and cause failure. The tank may receive new solids faster than it can treat them and the drainfield may become saturated from excessive water use. Various products are on the market which are said to start, accelerate or improve the action in the septic tank. Since all necessary bacteria are already present in the sewage entering the system, such products are not recommended.
Maintenance of a septic tank will depend largely on the daily sewage flow and individual household wastewater characteristics. With ordinary use and care, a septic tank should not require pumping out more than once every three to five years. It should, however, be inspected to determine the depth of accumulated sludge and grease.
Waste from kitchen garbage disposal units puts an extra load on a septic tank system. If a disposal is used, the capacity of the tank should be increased to handle the increased solid wastes. The tank may also require more frequent pumping to remove accumulated solid waste buildup.
Failure to pump out a septic tank system when indicated will result in solids or greases overflowing into the drainfield, which in turn may become clogged and stop functioning. In this event, not only will the tank have to be pumped out, but the drainfield may also have to be replaced.
Septic tanks can be cleaned by septic tank cleaning firms permitted by the county health department. This type of work should be done only by experienced professionals who will pump the entire contents of the tank into a tank truck and dispose of the contents in an approved, sanitary manner.
Septic tanks installed after January 1, 1998, are required to have outlet filters. For information on how to service/clean the filter, call your septic tank contractor or county health department.