Conserving water to reduce the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated and distributing water flow to the septic tank over an extended period of time will extend the life of a system. Wastewater should remain in the septic tank long enough, at least 24 hours, for heavy solids to settle out, forming sludge, and light solids to float to the top, forming scum. Except for the period immediately after pumping, however, a septic tank contains wastewater to its full capacity at all times. As a gallon of wastewater flows into the tank from the house, a gallon of effluent flows out of the tank into the drain field. If wastewater moves in and out of the tank too rapidly, due to constant flow for extended periods, or heavy water flow at any time, solids remain suspended in the wastewater. This means they may move with the effluent out of the tank and into the drain field. Solids can clog a drain field, decreasing its ability to treat wastewater. This can lead to costly repairs or even replacement. Conserve water and spread out water usage by following these suggestions:
Wash one or two loads of laundry a day, rather than three or more loads in one day. The high efficient washers do make a difference in not discharging a full load of water at once like the older washers.
Install low-flow water fixtures, low water-volume toilets, and low water-use appliances.
Check for and repair leaky faucets, toilets, and other leaks in the plumbing system.
If you use a water-softening unit, select one with demand-initiated regeneration. This means regeneration is determined by measuring gallons of water used, or by measuring the change in the electrical conductivity of the resin bed, or by sensing a change in water hardness.
Manage what is flushed down the toilet or drain to reduce the amount of solids in wastewater. More solids in wastewater will require more frequent septic tank pumping. Follow these tips:
Research shows that septic system starters, additives, or feeders are not necessary to keep a system working and are not a solution for improperly installed, designed, or maintained systems. In some cases, additives may keep materials suspended in the wastewater and allow them to flow out of the tank where they can clog the drain field. Follow these recommendations:
While the drain field does not require maintenance, a few precautions will help ensure proper functioning and a long service life. The drain field should not be inundated with excess water, as extra water will reduce the ability of wastewater to percolate through the soil as needed for proper treatment. The drain field should not be compacted; compaction will prevent the drain field from treating wastewater properly. The structural integrity of the drain field must be maintained. Follow these tips to protect the drain field: