Is your septic ready for the holidays?

November 16, 2013

Fall is here, and the holidays are fast approaching. With all that goes on during the holidays, it is easy to forget about some things. One thing that you do want to think about is your septic system.

During the holiday season, it is not uncommon for septic systems to malfunction. This means that a system has more wastewater entering the septic system than it can handle.

For instance, let’s say you have family coming later in the day to stay overnight. You decide you want to get all of the laundry done before they get there. So you do several loads of laundry that morning, run the dishwasher that evening and have people taking showers that night.

That increase in water usage can overwhelm your septic system. The result is either wastewater backing up into the house or surfacing in the yard and possibly entering our waterways.

So it is best to try to limit and spread out your water usage. You can wait and do laundry until everyone leaves, use paper plates to cut down on dish washing, have some people shower in the evening and others in the morning, and limit the length of showers.

If it looks like you are going to be having family stay with you over the holidays, keep in mind the amount of water that is entering your septic system. While this type of failure results in no permanent damage to the system, it can push solids through the leach lines and out into the soil resulting in clogged soil. This problem can only be remedied by soil replacement or the installation of an alternative system, both of which are costly.

Along with ensuring that your system’s capacity is not exceeded, you should also make sure your guests are “septic educated.” Outside of toilet paper and bodily waste, nothing else should go down the drain.

Don’t put cigarette butts, food scraps (especially grandma’s fruitcake – that will probably never break down in your septic tank), diapers, feminine products or uncle Chester’s toupee down the drain.

Also, avoid parking vehicles over the septic tank or its drain field. By doing these things you will not only save yourself some headaches and maybe money, but also improve water quality by keeping bacteria- and nutrient-rich wastewater from entering our waterways.

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