Forget about the printing press, the wheel and tacos: the septic tank is one of mankind’s greatest contributions to civilization. Imagine trying to live in the massive world of disposables in 21st century Charlottesvillle, VA without this benefit and you will soon realize why you should maintain your septic tank.
Septic tanks serve the same purpose as connects sewer lines found in most urban areas, but are not actually joined to those system. Many homes in the outlying rural areas of Charlottesville use septic systems because there is no sewer system to connect to, while other homeowners simply prefer the independence that a septic tank provides. That independence does come with a price, however: maintenance. Because the septic tank is buried in the ground, the maintenance is not a regular or routine task that must be attended to very often. Which is precisely why you should commit to the responsibility to maintain your septic tank between professional cleaning and pumping which should be scheduled every 2 to 5 years.
The process of how a septic tank system works begins inside the home. Wastes that are disposed there travels to watertight structure below. Once the waste is deposited there, solids begin separating from the liquids and settle to the bottom of the tank. This equilibrium is impacted by bacterial decomposition which creates liquids that flow to the disposal field, gases which arrive back into the house and escape through vents and solids which collects on the bottom in the form of scum. The amount of scum that builds up is the key to maintaining the septic tank.
A scum stick is basically just a six foot long PVC pipe with a six-inch long section joined to the end by an elbow joint. Locate your septic tank inspection cover, open and insert the scum stick fully down into the tank before raising it to the point that you can actually feel resistance. The source of that resistance is what gives the scum stick its name. If the resistance is so great that it is actually difficult to move the scum stick, that is reason number one why you should learn how to maintain it between professional servicing. So what you can do to lessen the resistance to your scum stick?
Leaks, Drips and Running Toilets
When a septic tank is overloaded with water, the efficiency of the process of decomposition is negatively impacted. Allowing a leaky faucet—even a slowly dripping one—or a running toilet to go without repair can potentially send hundreds of gallons more water into the septic tank than needed. The result is going to be a sluggish action within that allowed solid waste to build into thicker and thicker scum.
Oil and Grease
You already know you shouldn’t do it. You do it anyway, though. After all, it is simply convenient to wash pots and pans and other cookware on which there is grease or oil. Every little bit of oil or grease collects in the septic system and eventually turns into big supplies of oil and grease in the septic. Why? Because the bacterial action does not break those materials down like they do the waste that you are sending down the drain. The more you tempt fate by pouring that stuff down your kitchen sink, the more you often you are going to require professional septic pumping services.
The roots of trees and shrubs and other robust vegetation can actually become a serious problem if you ignore them. In the short term, roots can contribute to liquid waste being forced upward to your soil. Longer term damage without proper maintenance can result in damage to lines.
Ideally Septic tanks should be serviced by a licensed professional every 12 to 18 months and cleaned every 2 to 5 years in order to deal with the inexorable and unavoidable accumulation of sludge. The main reason why you should maintain a septic tank in Charlottesville or any other city is to keep those service calls on the far side of those timelines because of your confidence that the tank is operating at peak efficiency.