Septic Tanks 101

About one-fourth of the homes in the U.S. have septic tanks and septic systems. These systems require regular maintenance and proper care. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not provide the care on time or at all, which results in a failed system. A broken septic tank is a major problem for both the homeowner and for the environment.

The dangers that arise from broken septic systems have long been the concern of Federal officials and environmentalists. One of the main reasons why it is crucial to maintain a working septic tank is because of the possibility of polluting the city’s water supply. Domestic waste is treated on the property instead of passing through a sewer line to a treatment plant. Improperly-treated sewage from septic systems can contaminate many sources of water, including nearby ground water, drinking water, and surface waters. A clean and healthy water source, on the other hand, will avoid spreading disease and infection not only to the immediate household but to the surrounding people and animals.

But what if it is too late? There are several warning signs that arise when a septic system is not working properly. These include a foul odor or flooding of any kind around the tank or in the basement. Another sign is your sinks or toilets being backed up. If you notice any of these warning signs, you may need a new septic system. A new septic system can cost anywhere from $2,000-$20,000.

The best thing to do if you own a septic system is to have it checked regularly. Never attempt to fix anything yourself. The septic system should be checked at least once a year and the tank must be pumped every three to five years, depending on the number of people living in the home. Professional inspectors will make sure the tank is working properly and will check for any problems or leaks. While there are many other dos and don’ts concerning the proper care of septic systems, checking with your local health department is a good place to start.