How to Make Pumping Your Septic Tank Smoother and Easier
A septic system doesn't require much regular maintenance, but because of the inevitability of needing your tank pumped, it helps to do everything you can to make this process easier on you and your septic specialist. Marking the location of your tank, keeping good records, and protecting your drain field will help make maintenance like pumping a faster and smoother process that helps you avoid any surprises.
Keep Track of Pumpings and Paperwork
Your septic system is expensive and complex and worth keeping documentation about, especially if it has been worked on by several different plumbers. Keeping receipts and notes about what work was done and when is a great way to keep track of things like what maintenance might be needed, any possible risks to your system, such as aging pipes or evidence of damage, and helps you keep on a regular pumping schedule. Keeping your paperwork helps you avoid being taken by surprises.
For example, if your plumber told you about potential problems with a cast iron pipe, you can plan ahead for repairs, like descaling or replacement. It can also help to be able to give specifics as to when your tank was last emptied so your tank specialist can tell you if you're on the right track or if you need to adjust your pumping schedule. Finally, information on how old your system is and how it has been installed can help prepare you for inevitable milestones like having to eventually replace your tank or drain field.
Flag Your Tank Lids
Depending on the size of your tank, when it was made, and its particular design, you may have one or two lids on your tank; in some cases, there may even be more. To be emptied properly, every lid may need to be accessed. Since tanks have multiple chambers, septic tank pumping may need to be done from each lid. If your tank's lids are completely buried, they will need to be dug up every time you need the tank emptied, and just locating the lids can add extra effort and time to the pumping process.
To help make this part go a little faster and help your septic specialist, you can add subtle markings to the soil where each lid is buried by using reflectors or flags. Because your tank may only need to be emptied once every few years, it can be hard to keep track of their location otherwise.
If you want to be extra helpful, you can dig up the lids yourself. This will let the specialist get straight to work, and can also save you money off your final pumping bill.
Take Care of Your Drain Field
Your drain field is a vital part of your septic system that's designed to let liquids be absorbed into nearby soil rather than sit in your tank. This leaves room in the tank primarily for solid waste and scum that needs to be emptied by a professional. Without this component, your tank would need emptying much more frequently. Keeping your drain field in good shape helps your entire septic system last longer, but it needs to be taken care of.
To start, keep plant growth above your drain field to a minimum. Grass and other plants with shallow roots are acceptable, but other plants pose the risk of root damage to a system that can't easily be repaired. It also helps to keep this area of soil dry whenever possible, which may make growing plants there difficult. If the soil becomes too concentrated with moisture, as it can during the rainy season, the liquids inside the pipes won't be able to be absorbed out, which can cause your septic to back up much more quickly.
Next, avoid parking or driving any cars or heavy equipment over the drain field. Too much weight can compact the soil, which can make absorption harder at best and damage the pipes at worst.
Finally, spread out your use of water throughout the day. Running too many water-using appliances along with showers and sinks at the same time may overwhelm your drain field with more water than it can handle, which can start to cause backups or even risk permanent damage to the field. Double check what is draining into your tank; appliances are fine, but things like downspouts are not due to the potential for sudden influxes of large amounts of water.