Perhaps because they are located below ground, septic systems are shrouded in a bit of mystery. Homeowners don't know as much about them as they do about their showers, sinks, and toilets, and some of what you do know might not be true. Read on to discover four myths about septic systems and their maintenance.
1. Myth: You Can Save Money by Delaying Pumping
Your septic tank needs to be pumped when the solids in the bottom of the tank take up about 1/3 of the space. This equates to every two to three years under average conditions. When told this by their septic professionals, some homeowners figure they will save money by putting off pumping for as long as possible and then paying for repairs later on.
The problem with this reasoning is that there's a big cost differential between septic pumping and septic repair or replacement. Septic pumping costs a few hundred dollars at most, whereas having a septic tank replaced - a very real possibility for those who don't have their tanks pumped - will cost $5,000 or more. It's far cheaper to pay for periodic pumping than to replace your tank early.
2. Myth: Your Tank Will Tell You When It Needs Pumping
Many homeowners are under the impression that their tank will let them know when it needs pumping. They wait for odors to emerge from the drain or for the toilet to stop flushing fully. By the time these symptoms appear, your septic tank has needed to be pumped for a long time.
Have your tank pumped every two to three years before problems start appearing. This way, you avoid the damage done by sewage backups, overflows, slow drains, and bad odors. If your tank does not need to be pumped as frequently going forward, your septic care professional will alert you of this after your appointment.
3. Myth: You Can Safely Use a Garbage Disposal in a Home With a Septic Tank
This myth has been widely spread around by companies that make garbage disposals. They want homeowners to believe garbage disposals are safe to use in homes with septic tanks so that those homeowners pay to have disposals installed. While you might get away with using a garbage disposal in a home with a septic tank for a while, doing so will eventually cause problems.
The food you send down the drain ends up at the bottom of the septic tank. It takes a very long time to break down since it has not been pre-digested like human waste. Your septic professional will eventually need to pump it out. Using a garbage disposal greatly increases the frequency at which you need to have your tank pumped, and it may lead to an increase in backups and blockages.
4. Myth: You Should Plant Trees in Your Drain Field to Use Up Water
If your yard is wet, a well-meaning neighbor may suggest planting some trees or shrubs to use up the water. Sadly, this can do more harm than good in the long run. The roots of the trees can compact the drain field, preventing it from filtering waste properly. They may also grow into the septic tank or drain lines.
Grass is the only plant that you should plant in your septic drain field. If your drain field is overly wet, you may need your tank pumped or replaced.
Now that you know a bit more about your septic system, you can take better care of it and prevent costly damage. If you need to have your tank pumped, contact Pete's Outflow Technicians to schedule an appointment. We serve Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Soquel, and the surrounding areas.