Let’s face it. Septic tank cleaning is not a pleasant topic for discussion. It can be a necessary one sometimes, though. So if your home has a septic tank, reading this short article could prove very helpful at some point.
Like toilets and most other plumbing fixtures, a home’s septic system is powered, in large part, by gravity. Wastewater and other waste products flow downstream and out through a large pipe in the basement, crawl space, or concrete slab.
From there, they enter a large underground tank known as the septic tank. And what goes on in that space is quite remarkable, all things considered. But it can’t work its magic without regular maintenance and cleaning.
Why Regular Septic Maintenance Is Critical
Before getting into the benefits of septic tank cleaning, let’s consider one of the main substances that end up in the tank. Yes, the occasional food particles find their way there, along with quite a lot of toilet paper (hopefully the septic-safe kind).
Some Helpful Septic Maintenance Tips
Replacing a septic system can cost $10-15,000. So it’s in your interest as a homeowner to take excellent care of the one you currently have so that you can keep it in good working order for as long as possible.
That means avoiding filling it with items or substances that could damage it. Here are some examples:
- Household chemicals, especially solvents and corrosives
- Paint and paint thinners
- Gasoline and motor oil
- Cat litter
- Coffee grounds
- Cooking fats
- Paper towels
- Disposable diapers and sanitary products
- Facial tissues
- Dental floss
- Any plastics
- Cigarette butts
- Other non-biodegradable materials
Some of these materials can damage the inside of the tank on their own (e.g., solvents and corrosives). Others might speed or cause sludge formation—what keeps things moving inside the tank.
Septic Sludge 101
The whole reason a septic system (and the toilet paper that collects in it) even exist is (ahem) human feces. Feces and other septic matter (e.g., food scraps) combine to form septic sludge at the bottom of the tank. Don’t ever get near this nasty stuff!
It seems that roughly 50 percent of human feces consists of microbes—often disease-causing ones. And if you do the math, you’ll understand why septic sludge is sometimes referred to as “toxic sludge.” Yes, it can make you very sick.
This sludge also consumes the bulk of the tank’s space since liquids disperse into the leach field (or drain field). This dispersal makes your lawn a little greener. It also adds some extra time to the intervals between septic cleaning service visits.
Pumping the Sludge
We believe septic tanks should be cleaned professionally every one to three years, depending on occupancy, usage, and the specific system. By the way, “septic tank cleaning” essentially means hauling the sludge away in a vacuum truck.
When septic cleaning services come to your home, they do a few other things besides the pumping and hauling. They also check the overall condition of your septic system and make recommendations as appropriate.
The Benefits of Septic Tank Cleaning
Now we’ve shared some of what goes on inside your septic system. Let’s go into more depth on how to be aware and maintain a degree of control over those processes. Regular septic cleaning matters, but so does the part you play in it.
1. Avoiding the Risk of Septic Backup in or Near Your Home
It’s this simple: If you don’t have your septic tank cleaning done as prescribed by your septic cleaning service, it’s likely to back-up. That means backing up through every drain in your house.
It also means having that toxic sludge we mentioned flowing into your yard and potentially those of your neighbors. No more friendly neighbors!
2. Protecting the Ecosystem
Also, once your septic system’s contents have escaped, they seep into the soil and might even find their way to nearby freshwater sources. From there, the contaminants can enter the water and food supplies for miles.
Would it have occurred to you that being careless about regular septic maintenance could lead to widespread environmental problems?
3. Making Your Septic System More Efficient
Sludge is a dense, soil-like fluid at the bottom of the tank. Allowing it to build up over time can overburden the tank and slow your system down considerably—even block the flow altogether at some point.
While the septic system releases watery liquids into the leach field, the sludge might not move much until being pumped by a powerful vacuum truck. Or the whole system needs replacing.
4. Saving a Lot of Money
Did someone say “septic system replacement“? That’s right. As we mentioned earlier in this article, a new septic system can cost a pretty penny. And what if you need other major home repairs around the same time?
Which is more urgent, a new roof or a new septic system?
5. Maintaining or Increasing Your Property Value
As soon as a prospective home buyer discovers that your house has a septic system, you might think that everything else that has wowed them might fall by the wayside. But this isn’t necessarily the case.
This is yet another reason why routine precautions and regular septic maintenance are so necessary.
We should point out that it’s a good idea to retain your septic system’s maintenance records to support the well-maintained system they’ll find out about during the inevitable buyer home inspection.
Maintained Inside — Safe and Clean Outside
Now you know why keeping household waste contained within a septic system is so critical. Simultaneously, the system itself is building an internal ecosystem, where microbes in and around the waste products collectively break them down.
What we just described is not an attractive process, nor is it safe for people without the proper protective gear. Most of us wouldn’t want to go down into a city sewer. We should be equally alert and guarded around our home septic systems.
But isn’t that why businesses like ours exist? At Blain & Norris, we take care of your regular septic tank cleaning, so, for you, it’s “out of sight and out of mind.” If you need septic tank cleaning, please contact us today.