Septic tank overflows occur when the tank becomes too full and preventing them is a necessity. Septic tanks are watertight boxes that contain household sewage as it decomposes and then gradually release treated waste into the soil. Septic tank overflows release raw sewage into the ground and cause plumbing problems in the house. Proper septic tank maintenance reduces the risk of a septic tank overflow.
Septic tanks must be pumped regularly because not all material in a septic tank will decompose naturally. The frequency of required pumping depends on the size of the tank, number of occupants in the house and whether the occupants use a garbage disposal. A family of four with a 1,000-gallon tank should have the tank pumped about every three years.
Signs of a septic tank problem include drains or toilets that are slow to drain or seem backed up, gurgling drains, sewage odors outside and mushy or extremely lush grass near the septic tank. If you notice signs of a septic tank problem, contact a professional. Fixing a problem immediately often saves money and reduces possible damage to the environment.
Flushing or pouring certain substances down the drain can also clog your septic tank or disturb the balance of bacteria. Do not flush diapers, baby wipes, grease, fats, coffee grinds, cigarette butts, kitty litter, condoms, tampons or sanitary napkins. In addition, avoid pouring paints, solvents, acids, large quantities of bleach, drain cleaners or acids down the drain or toilet, because these items will kill healthy bacteria and interrupt the decomposition process.
* Conserve water by taking shorter showers, repairing leaks and installing low-flow toilets. Creating less wastewater keeps your tank in better shape.
* Compost your food waste instead of using a garbage disposal. Food takes a long time to decompose, which may clog your septic tank.