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Tips for Caring for Your Septic System During Warmer Weather

Young friends having barbecue party, outdoors

Warmer temperatures are finally here, which means that it’s time to fill the swimming pool, pull out the lawn chairs, and enjoy long days relaxing with friends and family. If you have a septic system, chances are that the last thing you are concerned about is avoiding septic backups, clogs, and other disasters. Unfortunately, increased water usage and more guests at the house can equal a septic catastrophe.

Follow these simple tips during the warmer months to protect your septic system. 

Contact a Professional 

Depending on the size of your tank and the number of people in your household, you should have your septic tank pumped every three to five years. However, if you use more water or produce more waste, your tank will fill more quickly and should be pumped more often. Contact a professional to have your septic system inspected — and, potentially your septic tank pumped — before the summer.

Ask the sanitation professional how higher-than-average water usage and waste can impact your septic system. Depending on the last time you had your tank pumped, how full the tank is when warmer temperatures return, or if you expect several guests during the summer, your sanitation professional may recommend pumping your tank, just to be safe.

Landscape Thoughtfully

For many homeowners, the chance to get their hands dirty and bring their landscaping back to life is the best part of warmer temperatures. If you’re considering planting anything on your property, especially anything that will be close to your drainage field, including grass, trees, or shrubs, be careful to not introduce any foliage that can damage the field.

Your septic system features a series of pipes that introduce waste into your drainage field. Unfortunately, because of the nutrient-rich soil of your drainage field, plants with deep or fast-growing root systems will spread quickly and could wind up damaging that piping.

Here are a few plants and trees you should avoid planting near your drainage field:

  • Weeping willow trees
  • Beech trees
  • Elm trees
  • Ash trees
  • American sweetgum trees
  • Any vegetables, particularly root vegetables

Instead, choose grass, plants, and trees that feature a more slow-growing, shallow root system. You have several options to choose from, including several types of grasses, perennials, wildflowers, and trees that will grow beautifully near or on your drainage field without causing too many problems. This includes the Japanese flowering crabapple, Sargent crabapple, and the willowleaf pear.

Talk to Your Guests

If you expect guests after the warmer temperatures return, then create a set of house rules to ensure that your septic tank is not overwhelmed. Encourage guests to throw food scraps in your backyard compost pile, rather than putting them down the garbage disposal. Dumping too many food scraps and grease can clog the system and introduce substances that will harm the septic tank’s bacterial balance.

Here are a few more septic system rules to tell guests:

  • Encourage water conservation. Ask guests to avoid letting water run while brushing their teeth, make sure the dishwasher is full before running it, and be mindful of their water consumption.
  • Do not use toilets as garbage cans. From cigarette butts to diaper wipes and even cat litter, your guests might accidentally toss items down the toilet that can clog your septic system and result in a septic backup.
  • Do not park or party on the drainage field. Take a walk with your guests and show them your drainage field. Tell them to never park their car or spend too much time on the drain field, as it can cause soil compaction that will interfere with the septic system’s efficiency.

If your guests don’t follow the rules and you suspect that your septic system is damaged, or if the wastewater backs up into your home, contact a professional to inspect the system and make any necessary repairs.

Empty Your Pool the Right Way

If you have a septic system, then you need to contact a professional builder before you construct an in-ground pool. A builder will obtain the proper permits and information about the location of your septic system, which allows them to ensure that they keep enough distance between the pool and the drainage field.

If you have a large, above-ground pool that is constructed and filled each summer, draining the water correctly will ensure that you don’t overwhelm the drainage field or cause damage to the septic plumbing. Instead, install a pump to the pool that directs the water away from your drainage field, or ensure that the pool is situated on an area that allows the water to naturally drain away from the septic field.

Draining the pool slowly over the course of a few days will also help ensure that you don’t overwhelm the drainage field.

From scheduling an inspection to making sure that you empty your above-ground pool correctly, you can take several steps to protect your septic system once the warmer temperatures return. If you have any more questions, contact Rob’s Septic Tank, Inc.

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