How often should your septic tank be serviced?

workers using a hose to drain a septic tank

The Importance of Septic Tank Services

When you aren’t on city sewer and water services, septic tank systems and water wells replace those conveniences. And while the city maintains its sewer and water line systems, it is up to the homeowner to maintain their water well and septic tank services. Most of the time, these only need occasional routine maintenance and work without any problems. 

The maintenance of septic tank services is essential to keep it healthy and to keep your home healthy. Fortunately, there isn’t that much to do, and it isn’t expensive if you do it as recommended. However, if you fail to keep the maintenance up as scheduled, it can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you must replace any part of or all the system. 

To keep your septic tanks services in good maintenance, which can be a challenge because most of it is underground, it will help to have an understanding of how a septic tank works first. If you’re wondering why septic tanks services and maintenance are so important, it is because a septic tank contains bacteria, which can be unhealthy, though bacteria is necessary for septic tank services to work. 

The bacteria break down the waste that leaves your home and makes the water clean before it infiltrates and penetrates the earth. The whole septic tank services system is designed to keep the bacteria inside the tank healthy and busy and to send some of the bacteria out into the earth with the waste. Here are the steps in the septic tank services process: 

  • All the waste from your home flows into the septic tank through plumbing pipes.
  • The liquid waste is referred to as effluent and is what takes up most of the space in the tank. Here is where anaerobic bacteria start breaking down the organic material contained in the effluent.
  • The sludge (or solids) falls to the bottom of the tank. These are inorganic solids and the byproduct of bacterial digestion.
  • A layer of scum, fat, grease and oil, floats to the top of the tank
  • A filter at the top of the tank prevents most solids from going into the outlet pipe and the effluent flows into the drain field via perforated pipes that are buried in gravel.
  • The drain field is a large area and the gravel around perforated pipes allows water to flow into the soil where oxygen reaches the bacteria.
  • Over time, the aerobic bacteria in the gravel and soil will decompose the waste.
  • Last, clean water seeps into the groundwater and aquifer.

Part of the maintenance for septic tank services is using septic tank treatment. This treatment is usually in the form of a power that is poured into each toilet. Asking the contractor that installs your septic tank system which septic tank treatment is best is recommended. 

When you haven’t used the proper septic tank treatment or had your septic tank services pumping, the septic tank will begin backing up, much like a clogged sewer line in the city. If your septic tank smells like rotten eggs, it is time to use an appropriate septic tank treatment or to call a professional in septic tank services to pump the tank. 

Are septic tank fumes dangerous?

Yes, they are! This is methane gas you’re smelling and it will arise when the septic tank is full each time a toilet is flushed or a bathtub, dishwasher, or washing machine drains, with the contents flowing through the drainage and accumulating. This eventually backs up, creating health risks from the natural production of methane gas. 

How do you know if your septic is failing?

The first indication you’ll notice if your septic tank services are failing is that the shower, sink, toilets, and tub will begin draining slower, often with a gurgling noise. You’ll notice the characteristic rotten egg smell at each drain, and often outside around the tank as well.

Other indicators of failing septic tank service are green, lush patches of grass. Pools of water standing around when there hasn’t been any rain are also an indication that the effluent isn’t able to drain in the designated drain field. 

How do you help your septic tank? what can you put in it? These are important questions, just as they are when maintaining city sewer lines. There are some things you shouldn’t put in your septic system. Some of the items you should never allow to get into septic system drains include: 

  • Coffee grounds
  • Disposable diapers
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cat litter
  • Motor oil
  • Pesticides
  • Earplugs
  • Feminine products
  • Paper towels
  • Fats, oil, grease
  • Photographic solvents
  • Insect and weed killers
worker opening a septic tank

Closing Questions 

Will a septic tank work without power? No, when there is a power outage, the effluent will not be pumped into the drain field. The tank will collect all the wastewater. However, once power is restored, the effluent will be released into the drain field. And can a septic tank freeze? With daily use, the water going into the tank will typically have a lot of heat, and this keeps your septic tank services from freezing. However, if you’re not home for a week or longer and the septic system isn’t used frequently, it could freeze in harsh weather. Though it may not seem like much, knowing all these things can be important to keeping your septic tank system in the best shape possible.