Septic Tanks: Maintenance, Cost & Repair

If you live in a rural area that doesn’t have a centralized sewer system, there is a good chance you have a septic tank buried on your property. A septic tank holds all the wastewater from your toilet, bath/shower, and sinks. Over time waste products and grease separate from the water, and the water eventually leaves the tank and enters the drainfield. The soil treats the water which eventually reenters the ecosystem.

Septic Tank Diagram

Septic System Cleaning

An annual inspection, as well as pumping every three to five years, is recommended to keep your system in top working order. This regimen can help you prevent backups and damage to your equipment. By the way, there is no evidence that commercial additives have any benefit. The bacteria needed to maintain the system is already present in human waste.

Other Ways to Care for Your System

Be very careful about what you flush down your toilet: Do not flush feminine hygiene products, "flushable" cat litter, paper towels, or facial tissue. The only things that should go into your toilet are human waste and toilet paper.

Watch your water usage. Too much water flow can disturb your tank and result in clogging. Even if you regularly have your septic system inspected and serviced, you should still look for the warning signs of a clog, including a bad odor, spongy or wet grass over the drainfield, or backups into your sinks or tubs.

Septic System Replacement and Costs

The cost of pumping your system is often around $250. The cost of replacing a drainfield, as a result of not pumping your system, can run up to $10,000. In addition, replacing other aspects of the system, including your tank, is likewise very expensive.

The high costs of repair and replacement is one reason why septic system maintenance is so important. In fact, most replacements are the result of a poorly cared-for system. Finding, and working with, a qualified pumping contractor, is an investment that will continue to pay off as long as you live in your home.