Moving into your first home with an independent septic system comes with some responsibilities that you may have little experience with. When your home relies on a septic system instead of the city sewer, every time you run water or put anything down the drain, it can affect it. Here is a look at some of the most common mistakes that new septic system owners often make and what they can do to your drains.
Mistreating Your Drains
Some of the biggest issues with household septic drains actually start inside the house. You may be sabotaging your drain system without even knowing it. Here are some things you may not realize can actually lead to drain problems.
Excess Drain Cleaners
Drain cleaners can be an effective way to restore proper water flow when you've got a minor buildup on the pipes. They can also be damaging to your pipes if you use too much. Excessive exposure to harsh drain cleaners can actually cause the inside of the pipe to corrode, which can cause the clog to get worse.
When that happens, it creates a backup of drain cleaner in the pipe behind the clog. This creates a pretty uncomfortable situation for the plumber, who will have to be prepared for the backup of chemicals when he or she clears out the clog. Use drain cleaners sparingly, or opt for a natural cleaner such as baking soda and vinegar.
Bleach and other Chemicals
When you are accustomed to public sewer systems, you may not think twice about using things like chlorine bleach and anti-bacterial cleaners. Although they are common household staples, they can actually disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria needed in the septic tank to help process waste. This can lead to overflow of the septic tank, which can cause a disaster in your yard.
Putting Grease and Solids Down the Sink Drain
When you put everything but the kitchen sink down your kitchen sink's drain, you're likely to create a volatile situation. Grease is a serious threat to proper drainage. Grease products solidify as they drain, sticking to the inside of the pipes and reducing the flow capacity.
In addition to grease, the foods you put down the garbage disposal are also potential problems. A garbage disposal isn't going to disintegrate food before it goes down the drain – it just grinds it smaller. This means that foods like flour, rice and vegetable peels are likely to pile up in the drains and cause serious clogs.
Flushing Trouble Down the Toilet
If you're treating your toilet like a disposal for things that you wouldn't otherwise put down the drain in your sink, you may be contributing to the problems with your home's drain clogs. The things you flush down the toilet will have to run through the same main drain that the stuff you put in your sink drains run through. It all flows into one single pipe.
Since everything flows into one main drain line, flushing anything down the toilet that shouldn't be in it can create a serious clog that may back up your entire household drain system. The resulting clog can actually lead to a backup that may cause the drains to flow back into your sink and tub. It's important that you make sure nothing goes down your toilet that isn't biodegradable and made to be flushable.
In addition to taking proper care of your home's drain system, you should talk with a professional plumber about drain repair, cleaning, and maintenance. Keeping up with the routine care of your home's plumbing and drain lines will help you to preserve the natural, proper flow through the entire system.