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Septic System Reminders: The Dos and Don'ts

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No one likes to talk about—but, finding dependable septic services are a necessary part of being an adult and owning a home. Further, knowing how to care for your current septic system is highly important, for many reasons: avoiding health hazards for you and your neighbors, avoiding costly repairs and replacements for un-maintained systems (completely avoidable!), and keeping the frequency of your periodic pumping within a manageable range for your budget.

So, what do the people here in Vallejo and Napa, CA, do to keep us—the professionals here at American Sanitation—from having to make emergency house calls? Well, let’s look at some tips from your neighbors!

The DOs and DON’Ts of caring for your septic system

If you want to extend the life of your home sewage system, save money on maintenance costs, and protect the quality of your water—check out these “DOs!”

- DO: Check with a certified septic technician (us!) for help with any potential system problems
- DO: Pump the tank when needed. Do not procrastinate, do not wait until there is a problem, do not forget to have your periodic pumping scheduled timely.
- DO: Inspect your system once a year (we recommend you hire one of our professionals to test levels). In general, septic tanks will need to be pumped every 3-5 years. But, remember the “average household” statistic? A bigger family will require more frequent septic pumping. In addition, not every tank is created equal, not all underground conditions are the same, not all tanks and systems were made of the same quality, etc.
- DO: Get a yearly inspection from a professional.
- DO: Keep records of your system’s location (a diagram is a good idea) and of its maintenance dates and care. This will help you and/or future owners of the home.
- DO: Be mindful of water conservation. The less wastewater you produce, the less strain there is on your septic system. When you reduce your water usage, you effectively extend the life of your tank and drain field.
* Note: if solids have, in fact, flowed into the drain field and caused damage, it is likely unfixable; a replacement drain field is necessary.

See? There is a lot you can do to keep a “healthy” septic system. Now, let’s explore the DON’Ts:

- Do not put these down your drain and into your system:

Fats and grease
Sanitary napkins or tampons
Paper towels
Paints or chemicals
Coffee grounds, nut shells or eggshells
Motor oils or fuels of any kind
Cigarette butts/tips

- DON’T: Weigh-down the ground over the drain field. Vehicles, swimming pools, gardens, heavy equipment, large livestock, and small or large structures should not be on top of the drain field area. Added weight can compact the soil and damage the system’s piping.
- DON’T: Add chemicals to your septic tank. Drain, floor, and toilet bowl cleaners, waxes, polishes, coatings, etc. could destroy the necessary bacteria in the septic tank and contaminate the ground.
- DON’T: Place impermeable materials over your drain field. Concrete, plastic (used often for flower beds and gardens), and asphalt will prevent oxygen from getting into the soil—needed by the bacteria to break-down sewage.
- DON’T: Overuse your garbage disposal. Or, if you can—do not use it all. The added solids and grease to the system means your tank will need more frequent cleaning.
- DON’T: Allow runoff to overwhelm the drain field area. Keep rainwater from your roof, driveway, and patio off that area to avoid irreversible damage.
- DON’T: Use septic tank additives (unless instructed to do so by a professional). Additives can create long-term problems. Additionally, using additives will not prolong the need for periodic pumping.

We hope these “DOs” and “DON’Ts” help you to keep a healthy, long-living septic system for many years to come. When you need a yearly inspection or periodic pumping, or if you are experiencing warning signs of an issue, we hope you give our team here at American Sanitation a call. Warning signs you may need a professional ASAP include:

- Odors, surfacing sewage, wet spots, or fast-growing vegetation appear in the drain field area
- Septic tank or other plumbing backups
- Slow draining in your sink or toilet
- Bubbling sounds in the plumbing system

Please do not hesitate to give our experience professionals a call for any septic service need. We know the people here in Vallejo and Napa expect the best. And, our staff prides itself in providing the best in customer service and sanitation needs since 2003. Need a quote? Have a question? Are you new to the area? Give us a call. We are happy to work with you!

American Sanitation | 1729 Action Ave. Napa, CA 94559 | (707) 554-8258

Septic Tank FAQ’s

How many years does a septic tank last?

  • The lifetime of the septic system varies widely, from 15 to 40 years. This is because there are many factors that affect the life expectancy of a septic tank, including its components, and whether it has suffered damage from road traffic, groundwater flooding or root clogging. Learn More.

How to keep your septic tank healthy?

  • Don't overload the septic tank and drain field.
  • Use an efficient toilet.
  • Don't treat the toilet as a garbage disposal.
  • Don't pour grease down the drain.
  • Divert rainwater from the septic drain field.
  • Keep trees away from the septic system.
  • Use garbage disposals wisely. Learn More.

Do septic tank additives really work?

  • In short, no. Like other types of quick fix goods, there's really not much study out there that shows that additives function well for the septic system. In reality, a lot of research has shown that additives, both biological and chemical, are potentially harmful to the septic system. Learn More.