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The Home Depot

How to Care for Your Septic Tank

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Septic Tank > How to Care for Your Septic Tank
How to Care for Your Septic Tank

People who live outside municipal sewer systems have no choice. Unless you can get connected to the water grid, you’ve got some type of septic tank system. The two main kinds are either conventional or alternative. Despite what you may have, you’ll be able to plug these tips into virtually all systems and help make your septic system trouble free for years to come.

  1. A good rule-of-thumb is to have everything pumped from the tank once-per-year.


    Matters will get bad if too much waste is forced into the septic tank. By keeping aware of certain things and maintaining others, you can keep the septic tank from getting too much to eat.

    • • Are any of your faucets or toilets leaking? Fix them.
    • • If the dishwasher isn’t full, wait until it is before you turn it on.
    • • Every flush of your toilet uses quite a bit of water. Reduce the amount by using a displacer.
    • • By employing aerators or flow-reducing nozzles on faucets and showers, it will help to lower the amount of water your family uses.
    • • Do you only have a small load of laundry? Hold on to it until the washer basin in nearly full.
  2. 2.Diverting Other Sources

    Drain fields are what actually get rid of the bad stuff from your septic tank. It leaches the waste from the system by using a form of chemistry that eats organic materials. By using microbes, the drain field keeps the build-up from hardening, thus making the drain field useless.


    If the drain field can’t zap the liquid waste so it can be absorbed into the ground, you’ve got a problem. On the other hand, if it gets too soggy, too diluted, the same result will occur. That’s why it’s good to point gutters, foundation drains and landscaping away from the drain field.

  3. 3.Trees And Roots

    Trees that are under 100-feet away from the septic tank will cause the system trouble. It’s not the shade-givers themselves but the roots that can create a major fail. One of the worst offenders is the willow tree. If you have that variety, it should be even further away from the treatment unit.

  4. 4.Garbage Disposals

    When you’re in the market for a garbage disposal, don’t be too frugal. A cheap unit won’t chew-up what you put in it all that well. You’re looking for a unit that chops matter into very small particles so the septic system will be able to digest organic materials easily. Remember, a garbage disposal will easily multiply the amount of waste by a factor of two.

  5. 5.Toilets

    Never use your toilet as if it were an extension of your garbage can. Stuff like disposable diapers, paper towels, coffee grounds, kitty litter, etc. will plug your tank.

  6. 6.Heavy Duty Cleaners

    Since a septic tank depends on biology and chemistry, watch what you dump into it. Too many heavy cleaners or other toxic materials will kill the good bacteria that are eating your waste. Don’t poison the cow. Same goes for bacon-or-any kind of grease. Once it hardens, it creates a coating that makes the drain field unable to do its job.


    Chemicals like gasoline, varnish, motor oils, paint thinners and the like fall into the bacteria-killing category, too.

  7. 7.Maintenance

    To keep almost everything working smoothly requires regular maintenance. Same holds true for your septic tank system.


    A good rule-of-thumb is to have everything pumped from the tank once-per-year. Some experts suggest that a family of four can wait as long as 3-years to drain the swamp. Be safe. At least once-per-year will ensure that you keep the risk of failure at a minimum.


    Finally, there is no reason for you, yourself, to ever open a septic tank. That’s something that only a pro should do. The reason should be apparent: It stinks down there. Not only that. The bacteria and the gases that decaying materials release are hazardous to your health.


    Why would you want to get into a septic tank anyway?

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