WHAT IS A SEPTIC SYSTEM?

A septic system is a private sewage treatment system.  They are common in rural areas where there are no municipal sewage pipes for homes, farms, businesses or other facilities to hook into.  They are less common in urban areas.

What your septic looks like, how it’s designed and constructed, depends on where you live, how much space you have, the characteristics of the surrounding land and the make-up of the soil.  Regardless of the type of septic system you have, all require careful attention to design, construction, operation and maintenance.

WHY SHOULD YOU MAINTAIN YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM?

When septic systems are properly design, built, and maintained they reduce or eliminate most human health or environmental threats posed by pollutants in household wastewater.  However, they require regular maintenance or they can fail.  Septic systems need to be monitored to ensure that they work properly throughout their service lives.

Saving Money

A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money.  Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit.  Having your septic system inspected regularly is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system.  Your system will need pumping typically every 3 to 5 years, depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. (See Proposed maintenance schedule below.)

No one wants to buy a house with a stinky, soggy yard.  An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property value and could pose a legal liability.

Tank Size Household Size
(imperial gallons) 2 People 4 People 6 People
500 2 years 1 year 1/2 year
800 2 1/2 years 1 1/2 years 1 year
1000 3 years 2 years 1 year
1250 4 years 3 years 2 years
1500+ 4 years 3 years 2 1/2 years

Leaking Faucets

A small drip from a faucet adds many litres of unnecessary water to your system every day.

“Proposed Septic Tank Maintenance Schedule*”

WHAT NOT TO FLUSH

What you put into your septic system greatly effects its ability to do its job.  Remember, your septic system contains living organisms that digest and treat waste.  As a general rule of thumb, do not dispose of anything in your septic system that can just as easily be put in the trash.  Your system is not designed to be a garbage can and solids build up in the septic tank that will eventually need to be pumped.  The more solids that go into the tank, the more frequently the tank will need to be pumped, and the higher the risk of problems to arise.

In the Kitchen, avoid washing coffee grinds, and other food items down the drain.  Grease and cooking oils contribute to the layer of scum in the tank and should not be put down the drain.

Don’t use the toilet to dispose of plastics, paper towels, facial tissues, tampons, sanitary napkins, cigarette butts, dental floss, disposable diapers, condoms, kitty litter, wet wipes, etc.  The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are waste-water and toilet paper.

Household cleaners such as bleach, disinfectants and drain and toilet bowl cleaners should be used in moderation and only in accordance with product labels. Drain cleaners are an exception.  A small amount of these products can kill the bacteria and temporarily disrupt the operation of the tank.  Overuse of these products can harm your system.  It makes the same common sense to try and keep all toxic and hazardous chemicals out of your septic tank system.  Do not use it to dispose of hazardous household chemicals.  Even small mounts of paints, varnishes, paint thinners, waste oil, anti-freeze, photographic solutions, pharmaceuticals, antibacterial soaps, gasoline, oil, pesticides, and other organic chemicals can destroy helpful bacteria and the biological digestions taking place within your system.  These chemicals can also pollute the groundwater.  Even latex paint is unhealthy for your septic system.  For more information, contact your local health department or your OASIS representative.

SYSTEM ADDITIVES AND CLEANERS

While many products on the market claim to help septic systems work better, the truth is there is no magic potion to cure an ailing system.

While many products on the market claim to rejuvenate and or eliminate pumping maintenance, it is misleading and can be a very costly leap of faith.

  1. Every septic system should be accessed by an OASIS professional to see whether an additive can help to increase better percolation in a leaching bed.
  2. Biological products are safe when introduced properly and monitored to increase bacteria population and to dissolve bio mat which clogs the soil which can create and back up.
  3. Beware of companies who solicit products by phone or insist that regular pumping maintenance is no longer necessary.
  4. Regular pumping maintenance is the only sure method to guarantee your septic system will work trouble free for many years.

SIGNS THAT YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM MIGHT BE FAILING

If you are experiencing any of the following signs or have doubts about the condition of your system, consider having it inspected by Buckhorn Sand and Gravel.

  1. Slowing or backed up drains in your home
  2. Spongy spots on or near the leaching be
  3. Sewage on the ground or near the bed
  4. Odour in the basement or outside
  5. Poor well or surface water quality
  6. Lawn over the leaching bed has abnormally healthy grass
  7. Liquid oozing out around the lids