Septic Systems 101 For New Homeowners

3 July 2018
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


New homeowners, even handy ones, typically need time to adjust and assimilate to the different systems at play in their new home. For example, learning how to care for a fireplace, how to operate it, troubleshooting, and figuring out when it should be serviced likely won't come naturally for most first-time homeowners. A home with a septic system is yet another mystery to be unraveled for most young, new homeowners as well. Here is what you should know about taking proper care of your septic system.

What Is A Septic System?

In some suburban areas and almost all rural areas, there is no public sewer system like there is in an urban area. In a city, you flush your toilet, wash the dishes, and take a shower, and all that water and waste travels through your home's pipes to connect to the city's pipes, where it then makes its way to the municipal wastewater and sewer treatment facility. When it is finished being treated, the clean water is released back into a nearby river, lake, or other waterway.

When you live in the country, a septic system must be used. This is comprised of an underground septic tank that typically must hold 1,000 gallons or more, perforated pipes that run from the tank, rocks, and a drainfield, which is where the wastewater and sewage are eventually diverted to.

What Routine Maintenance Does A Septic System Need?

Depending on how many people live in the home, your septic tank will need to be pumped to remove the solid "sludge" that collects in the tank every 1 to 3 years. The entire system should be inspected at least every three years.

The septic tank itself can last anywhere from 20 to 40 years, depending on the material it is made out of. Steel has the shortest lifespan, while plastic and concrete have the longest lifespan. Ideally, you were given the estimated age of the tank when you purchased your home, but a professional inspection will help determine this.

Can Anything Go Wrong?

A septic system is usually low-maintenance, but issues can occur. Tree roots becoming intertwined in the tank or the drainfield is an issue that can happen over time. The use of chemicals, medications, and household cleaners can kill the good bacteria in the tank and cause a backup. If you hear any gurgling noises, be sure to contact your septic service immediately.