4 Terrible Septic Tank Mistakes and How-to Avoid Them

An onsite waste water treatment system, which is also called a septic tank, is an essential part of a property when there is no connection to a municipal water supply. The septic tank is made up of a sewer drain, the storage tank, the distribution box and leaching field. All of these parts need to be properly maintained in order for the system to work as it is intended to. If you are new to homeownership or your past home did not have a septic system, it is important to learn about how these systems work. Be sure to avoid these four terrible septic tank mistakes when living in a home with this type of a waste water management setup.

1. Flooding the Septic Tank With Excessive Water
When the laundry piles up, it might be tempting to just do it all at once. Washing a load of laundry generates a considerable amount of waste water. Running two, three, four or more loads of laundry consecutively could result in a flooding of the septic tank and its drain field. Sending too much water into the tank does not give the beneficial bacteria in the tank enough time to process the waste water. This could result in harmful waste or chemicals getting into the leaching field and the soil around your property. Try to spread out loads of laundry, showers and cycles of the dishwasher. If you usually shower in the morning, run the dishwasher in the evening. Try to avoid running the washing machine and the dishwasher on the same day. Consider upgrading to efficient appliances that use less water and less electricity, such as appliances that are rated with the Energy Star seal.

2. Pouring Hazardous Chemicals Down the Drain
Do not flush any hazardous chemicals or anti-bacterial agents down the drain. Hazardous chemicals include bleach, ammonia, paint remover, acetone, floor cleaners and sink cleaners. It is also important to avoid pouring any old motor oil, grease, antifreeze, drain cleaners or solvents down the drain. Disinfectants such as toilet bowl cleaner, pesticides or antimicrobial floor cleaners should also be avoided. In addition to not flushing hazardous chemicals down the drain, also take care in the amount of soap, detergent and dish soap you use. Too much of these products could also have harmful effects on a septic tank.

3. Flushing Non-waste Items Into the Septic Tank
Flushing a big wad of toilet paper down the drain is a big no-no for the septic tank. It is also a mistake to flush other paper products down the toilet. Paper towels, baby wipes and sanitary napkins should not be flushed down the toilet. Diapers, tampons and other personal hygiene and health items should only be disposed of in a trash can. These items could clog the pipes or sewer. If they did make it into the septic tank, they could float on top of the water and create an obstruction into the distribution box. Too many non-waste items could also cause a problem with the sludge layer in the septic system.

4. Parking or Growing Things on the Leach Field
Do not use the leach field as a parking pad. The leach field should not be used for parking or driving. Also avoid driving or parking on any of the other septic system components. They are not designed to handle the weight or pressure of a vehicle. Only grass or another type of shallow-rooted ground cover should be planted on the soil above the septic tank, distribution box and leach field. Trees, shrubs and plants that grow deep roots should not be planted around the components of the septic tank. This is because the root growth could intrude into the plumbing, tank or distribution area and obstruct it or damage it. Do not plant a garden or any edible foods in the leach area or downhill from it. The plants could absorb some of the bacteria from the human waste. Ingesting food that is exposed to human waste could spread illness. Some good choices for plants include Kentucky bluegrass or another type of grass that grows well in your area.

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