Have you recently moved into a home with a septic tank? Are you used to having a home that's hooked up to the city sewer system? While a septic tank can be a perfectly safe and sanitary way of getting rid of your gray water, it's not quite the same as a city sewer line. It's important to know about potential hazards so that you can take steps to avoid them in the future. Here are a few potential issues with septic tanks and some things you can do to help minimize the risk:
Failing cover: Many homeowners choose to completely cover their septic tank with at least a few inches of dirt, allowing grass to conceal the tank. Unfortunately, this also hides when the lid is damaged or is failing. If your child, large dog, or even you walk or run across a septic tank with a damaged lid, it could fall in. Obviously, this could then send whoever and whatever is on the lid into the tank. Avoid this possibility by having your septic tank professionally inspected at least every other year. Also, keep track of where the septic tank is located and try to avoid walking on it as much as possible.
Contaminated drain field: Waste water enters one end of your septic tank, gets processed by the bacteria in the tank, and then exits the other end as semi-clean water. Solids will settle out and stay at the bottom of the tank, to be pumped out in the future. Under normal conditions, the drain field above the septic tank should not be obviously damp and should not smell. Unfortunately, if you run too much water through the system at once, the septic tank isn't able to process everything. Water will exit the tank with suspended solids, clogging up the drain field. When this happens, the soil around your septic tank will become marshy and will often start to smell, indicating that the soil has been contaminated with solids and fecal bacteria. Prevent this from happening by doing your laundry in shifts, instead of all of your laundry on one day. You should also try to take showers instead of baths, when possible. Another thing to remember is that you should have your septic tank pumped out regularly. If it's not pumped out, the tank will fill up and conserving water will be of little use.
Contaminated well water: This is related to the drain field as discussed above, but deserves to be mentioned on its own as well. Many homes that have a septic tank system also use a well to get their water. If this is the case for your home, then you'll need to be especially careful to make sure that your septic tank is cleaned out on a regular schedule. In addition, if your well should happen to go dry in the future, you'll have fewer options for well placement than if you didn't have a septic tank. Your well-locating and drilling company should ask you where your septic tank is to avoid placing your new well too close, but make sure to mention it anyway as soon as possible so that neither you nor they forget.
Contact a business, such as Zeb Watts Septic & Underground, Inc., for more information.