Tom's Tips - Do's
- Protect your investment and avoid expensive surprises
when buying real estate. Be sure to include in the offer a requirement for the seller to provide final pumping and inspection.
- Pump your tank every three to four years, depending on the size of your family, overall usage, and the capacity of your system.
- Use smaller amounts of water over longer periods of time, giving your septic tank time to absorb it, and preventing saturation of the field.
- Building sumps and runoff from roofs, patios, and driveways should be directed to splash pads away from the tank and leaching bed.
- Keep showers short, run dishwashers and clothes washers only when full. Use the cycles with the lowest number of rinses.
- Spread laundry over several days, giving solids in the tank time to settle to the bottom so they will not get flushed out into the leaching bed.
- Fix leaks. A tap leaking just one drop per second wastes about 10,000 litres of water per year. A silently leaking toilet can waste up to 20 times that amount. Both keep your well pump running day and night.
- Use only the smallest amount of liquid soap necessary for your laundry. (Powder will cake when mixed with water and clog your pipes.)
- Install effluent filters on the outlet pipe. These have been mandatory on all new septic tanks since January 2007, and prevent particles from
flowing out to the septic field.
- Have effluent filters cleaned approximately once a year to prevent clogging and a back-up into your house.
- Arrange for a reminder or a maintenance agreement to have your effluent filters cleaned for you.
- Get on a recall system so you won't forget to pump your tank.
- Risers, which also became mandatory in January 2007, expose your tank lids to the surface of the ground for easy access, so you don't have to dig up your
lawn every time you have it pumped.
- Do not flush grease, sanitary products, wipes, or cigarette butts, which do not break down like toilet paper. They will plug up your system. (Just because it
says flushable on the box does not mean it can go down your system.)
- Additives to start bacteria are not necessary if you are careful with what goes into the tank. Flushing even small amounts of paints, solvents, thinners, nail polish remover, and other common household compounds (or pouring them down the drain) can poison the organisms that break down organic material.
- Laundry bleaches, toilet bowl cleaners, and caustic drain openers can also slow the treatment process, allowing sewage to pass through without proper treatment. And often, the chemicals themselves seep into the ground, sometimes contaminating wells or surface waters.
- Do not connect garburators or water softeners to your septic tank. Discharged waste flows from home water treatment units, furnace condensate discharges, and water softener backwash (which may contain salt concentrations), are strains that your septic system doesn't need. Route these directly to the leaching pits.
- Driving cars or machinery over your septic system will crush it. The soil surrounding the pipes may also be compacted, making it less adept at absorbing sewage flows. Snowmobiles compress the snow cover over the field, reducing it's natural insulating effect and increasing the risk of pipes freezing.
- Planting trees and shrubs (especially willows and poplars) near the field is risky because their roots travel significant distances to seek water and can plug or damage the pipes. Watering of the grass over the field, whether by inground systems or by hand, should be eliminated or minimized. Watering interferes with the soil's ability to absorb liquids and break down wastes.
A septic system pump-out costs less than a hundredth the price of an overhaul. So the choice is yours. Pay a little now... or a lot, later!