In the last couple of posts, I’ve focused on caring for your septic tank. In this post, I’ll talk about some common household activities that can disrupt your septic tank’s daily routine.
Caring for your septic tank in 3 easy steps
Everybody does laundry, and nobody likes doing it. “Laundry day” is almost an institution in American homes, but “laundry day” has a dark side when it comes to caring for your septic tank.
Modern washing machines use up to 40 gallons of water for each load of laundry, so if you do 10 loads of laundry in a day, that means you’re adding about 400 gallons of water to your septic tank. Your tank may not hold 400 gallons of water, so knowing the size of your tank is Step One in caring for your septic tank! You’ll need to account for all of the regular water usage – toilets, showers and cooking – before you can determine how much laundry you can safely do in one day. Set a limit and stick to it!
Most detergents are septic-safe, but bleaches and other laundry additives might not be. That could mean that untreated water (including unprocessed solid waste) gets into your drain field.
Consider doing fewer loads over two or three days, and make sure the water level in your washer matches the load you’re doing. Don’t let the washer fill all the way if you’re washing a small load. Likewise, combine loads to minimize the total number of loads you’re doing. Minimize the amount of bleach you use in the wash, and consider switching to a high-efficiency, low-consumption washing machine.
If you use a water softener, you could be adding hundreds of gallons of water and dozens of pounds of salt into your septic system. Flooding your septic system with a lot of water at one time is bad, and the jury is still out on whether salt fouls up the bacterial action in the tank. Salt in the drain field, however, is definitely not good. If you really need a water softener, you should consult a plumber and devise a safe way to discharge the wastewater and salt out of the softener that doesn’t involve the septic tank.
Your washing machine and your water softener aren’t the only natural enemies of your septic tank. Your garbage disposal probably isn’t doing your septic system (or your wallet) any favors either. If you regularly use your garbage disposal, you could be increasing the solid waste in your tank by as much as 50%. Increasing the amount of solid waste is definitely notcaring for your septic tank!
Unlike sludge that settles to the bottom of the tank, these little particles of food waste either float in the “clear liquid” layer or rise into the scum layer of your tank. If they get flushed out, they get flushed out as food, which will rot in your septic field. If they end up in the scum layer, they’ll need to be pumped out during maintenance. In some states, the addition of a garbage disposal requires the installation of a larger capacity septic tank!
If you’re serious about caring for your septic tank, avoid using a garbage disposal altogether. Dispose of food waste in the trash. Drain oils and fats into a closed container for disposal. Organic waste from plants can be composted, which is an environmentally friendly approach to food waste disposal. Doing these things will also reduce your annual septic tank maintenance costs.
If you would like more information about caring for your septic tank, or would like to schedule an inspection and cleaning, please contact Clear Drain Cleaning at (330) 343-7146. We provide complete septic services for homeowners in the following counties: Tuscarawas, Ashland, Carroll, Coshocton, Holmes, Stark and Wayne.