7 Steps to an Environmentally Friendly Septic System
Your septic system is designed to use bacteria and the filtering action of the earth’s soil to carry away your household’s wastewater, clean it, and return it to the ground. The process is, for the most part, a natural one, and can be sustainable and green as long as you take certain basic steps.
1. Understand Your Septic System
The more you know about how your septic system works and impacts the groundwater, the better you will be able to use and maintain it in an environmentally friendly manner. Your system consists of three major components:
- Tank: Wastewater from the house flows into a holding septic tank where bacteria and enzymes break down some of the material. What they cannot process falls to the bottom of the tank as sludge while at the top of the tank, a layer of grease and fats floats.
- Drain lines: The middle layer of water in the tank flows out and into the drain field through perforated pipes.
- Septic field: From the pipes, the waster water drips through a layer of gravel then into the soil. This action further filters the water and allows naturally-occurring bacteria to continue to break down the waste.
Once in the soil, the treated wastewater flows into surface water and groundwater sources.
2. Watch What Chemicals You Put Down the Drain
Though the bacteria, enzymes, and natural filters working in your septic system do a great job at cleaning your wastewater, there are certain things they can’t process, and those end up contaminating the groundwater if flushed or washed into your system. They include:
- Harsh and toxic chemicals like poisons, paints, solvents, and antifreeze
- Non-biodegradable cleaners and detergents
3. Compost Your Food Waste
When the food your disposer washes into your septic system breaks down, it leaves high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the wastewater. These, in turn, are a leading cause of groundwater contamination. If you don’t compost your scraps at home, see if your local community offers a composting program.
4. Keep Your System From Clogging Up
When your septic system clogs up, it can overflow, spilling untreated wastewater into the ground. To avoid this, don’t flush anything but toilet paper down the toilet and don’t use sinks as a trash can. Coffee grounds, kitty litter, and paper towels are three of the most common culprits in clogging up septic systems. Paint is another substance that can cause serious problems in your pipes and tank.
5. Use Water Wisely
Your septic system is designed to handle a normal flow of wastewater for the size of your household. As wastewater drains into the tank, an equal amount of water flows out into the septic field. If the volume of wastewater flowing out into the septic system spikes, and the tank fills too quickly, untreated waste solids can be forced out into the field and may clog the pipes or enter the groundwater directly.
6. Pump Out Your Tank Regularly
Your septic tank needs to be pumped out by a professional on a regular schedule to keep the solids collecting there from overflowing into the septic field or clogging and damaging the entire system. How often the tank needs to get cleaned is a matter of how big the tank is, your family’s water use, and how well the system is operating. In some cases, your tank may need to be pumped out every year.
7. Have Your System Inspected Once a Year
The biggest threat a septic system poses to the groundwater is when it clogs up or otherwise malfunctions and spews untreated waste straight into the natural water supply. The best way to keep this from happening is to have your system inspected by a professional every year.
If you’re interested in learning more about keeping your septic system operating in an efficient and environmentally friendly fashion, call us at Rob’s Septic Tanks, Inc., and make an appointment for an inspection or consultation.