If you are the owner of a private dwelling in a rural area, owning a septic tank will probably not even be an option, it will most likely be a necessity. While we are aware that it is imperative that the correct procedures are followed with the installation of the tank, correct maintenance is just as important. Septic tank maintenance is relatively easy – dealing with replacing or repairing it is not!

A major element of septic tank maintenance is actually being kind to it. This means not doing all of your washing in one day as it can put undue pressure on the system. Do not flush non degradable or chemical substances down your toilet. This includes cigarette butts, nappies, bleach, paint or cotton pads. These can causes blockages in your tank. The same goes for emptying grease and oil down your sink – this should certainly be avoided as it can also lead to blockage of the tank or damaging the pipes. Always keep an eye out for any faucet leaks or issues with how your toilet is running as these can often be early tell-tale signs of a potential septic tank issue.

As you may be aware, the tank keeps all solid matter from waste in the tank, emptying only wastewater. This solid matter sinks to the bottom of the tank as sludge. Over time, this “sludge” builds up and requires emptying. In order for it to be emptied, the tank needs to be “pumped”. This needs to be done approximately every three years. However, this time period can vary depending on the size of your tank and how much wastewater is entering it on a daily basis. There are professionals who specialise in this service and it really is important that you leave this job up to the professionals. It requires special equipment as you could be dealing with potentially hazardous waste. If you try to tackle pumping the tank yourself, you could end up doing more harm than good. The cost of hiring specialists to pump the tank is far less than the cost of potential damage you could cause by doing it yourself. Your warranty may not cover damage caused by trying to repair or pump the tank yourself either.

Aside from the tank itself, you should also keep a close watch on the surrounding soil and drain field. Excess water on the surface surrounding the tank is a signal of a problem. Harsh weather can also play havoc with the condition of the soil. It may be essential for you to change the position of your drainage field to another part of your garden. It could take about 15 years before you have to move the drainage field or have it treated but it is still important to monitor it. If you notice any foul odours coming from the area where the tank is located, you should also call in the help of professionals – it is better to be safe than sorry.