If you think that regular maintenance of your septic system might be due, don’t waste a moment hesitating. That situation will become much worse if you have to do repairs when truly cold days arrive. It will be more difficult for workers to repair your issue, and you will be greatly inconvenienced and probably even charged more. In order to avoid that outcome, you need to inform yourself about septic tanks and their usual maintenance.
Let’s break down how septic tanks actually work and explain to you how to check yourself whether yours is at risk of becoming clogged or not. The average interval for cleaning them is about once every three years, but they come in different sizes, and no two households are the same, so you need to know how to check is it full. If you have a garbage disposal unit in your sink the amount of solid waste in your septic system will be significantly bigger which will make the regular maintenance necessary earlier.
The main purpose of a septic tank is to separate your plumbing waste into solids and liquids, to allow liquids to drain to the appropriate place and ensure that the organic matter gets degraded by common soil bacteria, and to keep non-degradable solids safely stored not letting them contaminate the soil around your house. The waste gets distributed in three distinct layers. The top layer contains oily residues from cooking or hygiene products that stay on top because it’s lighter than water which is in the middle layer. The middle layer also contains some waste, but that’s organic material that is harmless and will be degraded either in the tank or in the drain pipes system. The bottom layer consists of all other waste that is not dissolvable in either oily or water layer and that falls down on the bottom where it forms a sludge. The depth of this bottom layer determines the capacity of your tank because it decreases space available for other layers.
To check the condition of your tank, locate the inspection pipe or manhole first. Then prepare a long pole and wrap one end of it in an old towel or similar cloth. You should have at least three or four feet of the pole covered and then try to push it slowly all the way to the bottom. The sludge is thickest next to the entry pipes of the septic tank, so this is a good place to check if you have a manhole on that side. When the pole reaches the bottom, turn it around in place for about five spins and slowly pull it out. You need to inspect the amount of waste that clung to the towel cloth. If it has more than 12 inches in diameter, have the tank emptied.
It is highly recommended that you don’t try to clean out your septic tank yourself. It’s a much more complicated task than simply pumping out the water. The professionals know how to break up the hardened layers of waste and remove it completely. They also have adequate ways of disposing of that waste later, which would be a significant problem for you. You wouldn’t be safe if you disposed of it somewhere in your yard.
It’s important to add that a proper access point for cleaning is only through the manhole, and the inspection ports should be used only to check the condition of the tank. If you use them to try to pump out waste, you can clog them because they are too small and not fit for that purpose.
You might have seen advertising that claims that certain additives allow you not to clean out your septic tank because they can degrade the waste. Those claims have been proven to be mostly unsubstantiated. Even though the additives have been on the market for over hundred years, they have never had their efficiency proven or replicated by a neutral third party. Only their manufacturers claim they work, and they even carry a great risk of polluting groundwater. If you decide to use additives anyway, read the instructions carefully and follow them completely. You should make sure you don’t exceed the dosage recommended for your tank, and that you’re using them without allowing them to pollute your soil.
You can get more information about this issue and practical advice how to clean out your septic tank if you consult Épursol in Gatineau or Mont-Tremblant Fosse Septique. They’ll be able to give you a quick and precise estimate about your tank and draining system.