Septic tanks are a necessary part of approximately 25 percent of households in the United States, where sewage lines are not available. These underground tanks are essentially an on-site sewage facility for the home. Pipes run from the house into the tank where bacteria help to break down the waste material into materials which safely return to the soil. However, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), when septic systems require maintenance, it is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Septic problems or failure can be caused by a number of factors. For example, when the bacteria inside are unable to break down solid waste, the waste can accumulate in the tank clogging the incoming pipes or even causing overflow. This may be due to excessive human waste entering the septic tank in too short a time, often due to a large party at home, or the build-up may simply occur over time. Even excessive water use can overwhelm a septic tank.
Adding items that are unable to be broken down by the bacteria can also clog up a septic tank. Things like cigarette butts, personal hygiene items, and cotton swabs should be thrown in the trash, not flushed down the toilet. Similarly, greases and oils should not be poured down the sink. As they cool and solidify, they can easily build up inside pipes and cause blockages.
However, occasionally, the problem may be in the design. A septic tank may be too small for the property’s home. For instance, home renovations that add bathrooms or additional household residents, like your brother and his entire family moving in, will inevitably contribute additional waste to the system. A high water table or poorly draining soil can also create septic problems.
Prevention / Solutions
Ideally, a septic system would operate smoothly by simply using bacterial breakdown and gravity to dissipate your household waste into the ground. Unfortunately, this is typically not the case and proper maintenance and care are necessary.
It is important to try to limit all of the forms of waste that you are contributing to your septic tank, such as food bits, human waste, water, and more. As a preventative measure, informing your family and house guests about the proper use of water and acceptable waste products can be imperative to lengthening the life of your system.
Preventative maintenance by licensed plumbers to remove the build-up of irreducible solids should also be completed routinely. This periodic maintenance, also known as “pumping,” is a simple step to avoid large scale problems in the future. Between these visits, septic tank treatments are available for purchase. Typically containing enzymes or supplemental bacteria, the substance is designed to aid existing septic tank bacteria in the breakdown process.
A properly maintained septic system can last decades and can help homeowners avoid costly replacements, not to mention the odor and inconvenience associated with a septic “back-up.” Experts at Roto-Rooter are available 24/7 to assist you with your septic, or any plumbing needs! Call us at 973-887-1800!