3 Things to Know About Your Septic Tank System

Have you purchased a home that has a septic tank? Will this be the first time that you've had a septic system instead of being hooked up to a city sewer? If you've never had to deal with using a septic tank, you may be feeling confused and lost as to what does and does not need to be done. Fear not, because there is not a substantial difference between the two. However, there are indeed things that you need to know or remember in order to keep your system working well for as long as possible. Some of the most important things include the following:

Regular emptying: One of the most obvious, and yet most easily forgotten, aspects of septic tank systems is that they must be pumped out or emptied on a regular basis. Depending on your household and the size of the tank, this is typically done every 3–5 years. Because it's not something done every month or even on a yearly basis, it can be all too easy to lose track of how long it's been since the tank was last emptied. Put a reminder in your phone to have it checked out after a couple years, or write up a note and stick it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet to remind you how long it's been.

Avoid certain materials: If you do something like flush paper towels down a drain hooked up to a city sewer system, it may or may not clog your sewer line but will otherwise have little to no impact on your sewage system. With septic tank systems, putting anything besides bathroom tissue and human sewage waste into the septic tank can cause future issues. Things like baby wipes or paper towels either won't break down or will take a long time to break down, potentially clogging the system and prematurely filling the septic tank. In order to avoid having to pay to have the tank emptied on a yearly basis, always be mindful of what you're putting down the drain.

Use additives: All septic tank systems function properly because the tank itself serves as a home and breeding ground for a number of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria help break down the sewage solids, allowing more sewage to fill the tank before it must be emptied. Unfortunately, sometimes very cold or very hot weather may result in these bacteria dying off. When this happens, the tank will fill up much more quickly and may need to be emptied sooner than expected. On the bright side, there are various additives that can be used every month or every few months that will introduce more bacteria to your tank to get it working as expected once again. Ask a septic system company if you have any questions or want recommendations on which product to use.