Since your septic system only gets professional maintenance every few years, it's up to you to keep it healthy in the interim. And to do that you'll need to know a little bit about what makes a septic tank tick (figuratively speaking) and how you can further its function. Otherwise, you could end up with backed-up drains and all kinds of other septic and plumbing problems. Here are two tips to help you keep it in tip-top shape.
1. Be aware of what belongs in the septic system . . . and what doesn't
The septic system deals with waste by piping wastewater out into a leach field where it can leach into the ground and retaining solid waste in the tank itself. This solid waste sinks to the bottom of the tank and is dealt with by bacteria, while the water flows out pipes at the top of the tank. These are the only things that belong in the tank: water, bacteria, and human waste (with the exception of toilet tissue, which is also okay). Small amounts of other things, such as bits of food that have accidentally gotten into the drain, may be okay as well. But if you put non-biodegradable things in the tank, especially if they float, these may block the entrance to the leach fields (for example, cotton swabs and tampon applicators can be a problem). They can also cause drain problems on the way down, so unless you just love drain clogs and expensive plumbing or septic bills, toss non-biodegradable items in the trash rather than in the drains (including the toilet).
2. Monitor the septic field for variation
If the area above your septic tank suddenly has lush, green grass growing much faster than in the surrounding areas, you may have a leak. If you see this symptom, it's a good idea to call for maintenance personnel even if it's not time to have the tank pumped yet. It may be a leak or it may be normal grass growth variation; however, septic system leaks can contaminate groundwater, which is especially problematic if you have a private well. If you do have a septic leak, it's a good idea to get your well water tested for bacteria, so obviously you need to know whether you have a leak or not. Of course, in addition to keeping an eye on your system and keeping an eye on what goes into it, you'll need to remember when it's due to be pumped. But don't bother putting in septic tank "additives" to boost bacteria levels; there are plenty of bacteria in there already.
For more information or assistance, contact companies like Bilz Plumbing & Mechanical Inc.