If you are on sewer, then you probably do not need to read this…. or maybe you do (no pun intended). If you have a septic tank, there are specific things you need to know.

Let us start with what not to flush. The manufacturers are clever when they put “flushable” on their wipes. They are not flushable with septic. You should not flush anything but toilet paper. No paper towels, no wipes, and no sanitary products.

This brings me to the kitchen. When we bought our house, it had a garbage disposal in it. Knowing we could not use it with septic, we removed it to give more space under the sink. Eventually, we started the compost in the back yard. We keep a bucket on the kitchen counter for eggs shells, veggie and fruit peelings, coffee grounds, etc. Once a day we dump the bucket into the compost. Next week, I will talk about composting and how easy it is. Nothing but water should be going down your kitchen drain. One item to avoid going down the drain is bacon grease. You will end up watching your money go down the drain to fix the issues from the grease.

So, what can you do to help preserve the life of your septic system? Find a trustworthy Septic Service company. They should clean and pump your tank on a regular basis. How often depends on a few factors – how big is your tank and how many people live in your house. We have a 1000-gallon tank and 4 people currently living in our house. We pump every other year. This seems to suffice. More people or smaller tank; you might want to consider annually having it pumped. A good septic person will let you know if they see anything besides toilet paper and advise against flushing anything but toilet paper. They will also inspect to make sure everything is working properly. Important information you should know.

I have known people to put chemicals in their septic system to keep it healthy. My septic person does not recommend doing so. He believes nature does its job better without the added chemicals. Natural bacteria will help its breakdown. I would suggest avoiding chemical additives.

You will know when something is not working correctly. You may notice a pooling around the tank access pipe. This could be several different things. You may have a clogged pipe in the distribution box, need a new drain field, or possibly a new tank. Either way, this is a time you should be calling your trusted person. Tanks generally last 25-40 years. Concrete seems to last the longest. If the water is backing up into the house, then you probably have a clog between the house and the tank itself. If this happens, call a trusted plumber. If you get black water (toilet or shower water) coming up into the house not only call the plumber but also your insurance company as soon as possible. This water should be handled by professionals as it is full of bacteria.

Prevention is the best cure for septic systems.