Septic tanks are common in rural areas and smaller cities such as Medicine Hat. Therefore, it’s important you understand how they work, how to properly utilize them, and what to watch out for. We here at Sanatec Environmental understand the many questions people have about septic systems, so we hope this covers most of your concerns.
First thing’s first, how does a septic tank work?
If you have a septic tank system in your current home or plan on moving in the near future to a place with one, you will need to understand how it works. By understanding what is going on underground, you will be able to properly maintain it and avoid problems that occur when the septic tank is improperly maintained or used.
If you have a standard septic tank system, it consists of two main tanks; one that collects and separates solids from the liquid waste, and the other which disperses liquids into underground earth as to naturally filter it. The initial tank which ends up collecting the solid matter from your septic waste should be cleaned every few years, however this changes depending on how many people are living in the home or using its plumbing.
Understanding that there is a consistent and crucial collection of solid waste means that it must be cleaned regularly to avoid an overflow and backup into your home. So be sure to consult local professionals such as ourselves for an inspection or advice.
For other, more unique types of septic tanks, here is an interesting article that covers some of the variant septic systems you may come across. Keep in mind it’s worth double checking what type of system you have with the papers that came with your home.
How to properly use your septic tank
There are things you can flush, things you can’t flush, and things you should definitely not flush! In order to avoid future issues, floods, and odors, you must be mindful of what you are disposing of within your pipes.
You kitchens and bathrooms are the main contributors to your septic tank, and as mentioned in another article, you should only be sending water, waste, and toilet paper into your septic tank.
Since the interior of your septic tank is susceptible to damage and erosion, ensure you are not flushing harmful chemicals. There is even beneficial bacteria within your septic tank which helps break things down, and the wrong chemicals can affect it in a counterproductive way.
While food waste may be degradable, it can clog up faster than it dissolves. This is why people recommend against garbage disposal in your sink since it encourages more solid waste into your pipes. Again, these pipes should only be taking in water waste and degradable things meant for septic systems such as toilet paper.
Now for the bathroom, it is important you are using toilet paper meant for healthy septic systems rather. Avoid flushing paper towels and facial tissues. Most importantly you must avoid flushing other bathroom items such as contraceptives and personal care items. This is extremely detrimental to your septic system and pipes, so avoid it at all costs.
Additionally, the frequency and intensity of each bathroom visit can affect the overall health of your septic system. If you suddenly have 12 guests over for a weak, it will drastically affect buildup in your septic system. While this may be an exaggeration, it is still wise to inspect your septic tank before you have quests in order to ensure a smooth and disaster free visit.
Here’s what you should look out for
Now if you frequently have your septic tank cleaned, and consistently only flush the proper waste, you may not need to worry. However even a perfect system can have accidents.
Now if you are flushing an assortment of random items into your septic tank, problems will be a very common occurrence, so these signs of failure may be familiar.
One of the most obvious signs to look out for will be a foul odor from in the home, or where the septic tank is located. This may range from a faint smell, to an intense one depending on the severity. Essentially, your septic tank is clogged and backing up or nothing is getting through the pipes (which will cause more than just a problem of smell). Now if the smell is directly near your septic tank, this may be normal. However, if the area around it persists with the same smell, there is an issue. This means it’s overflowing into the earth around it. With this in mind, you would eventually discover water puddling in your yard as well. This is the extreme result of failure, and you should contact someone immediately. This can cause damage to your septic tank, and anything around it either above or below ground. Such as mold and instability of structures above eroded earth.
In your home if you smell an overbearing sewage scent, there is definitely a problem. Check outside near you septic tank for the issues just mentioned. Here is a great article on some things to watch out for as well such as slow draining toilets, slow draining sinks, gurgling sounds from toilets or sinks, and additionally, checking washing machines and dishwashers lines for leaks and buildup as well.
If you have a septic tank, this is crucial to understand. If you know a friend or family member with a septic tank, this can help them if problems arise and help avoid them entirely. Also, if you are looking into buying a home, be sure to ask if there is a septic tank, and if so, what type. Understanding what a septic tank is, how to properly use it, and what to look out for will save you money time and time again, so be sure to stay on top of your septic tank maintenance and inspections. For a simple cleaning is much cheaper than damage to you home or septic tank. We offer septic tank services here at Sanatec Environmental, and if you refer friends and family members, you can get your tank cleaned for as little as ten dollars!