Your septic tank: It’s not a part of your home that you think about often, but when you do, it’s usually because something has gone very, very wrong. By then, you probably have a very stinky, very uncomfortable mess to deal with in your basement. Or worse, you’ll have an expensive and inconvenient repair or replacement on your hands.
Maintaining your septic system won’t take long, but it could save you from septic tank problems like this. Plus, it’s usually easy and affordable. First, let’s look at what a septic system is all about.
What is a Septic System, and Do I Have One?
Septic systems are self-contained sewage storage systems (yes, it’s a tongue-twister!)
Not every home or property has one. They’re usually found in rural areas where there isn’t a connection to a public sewage system.
The septic tank that stores wastewater and sewage is usually located underground.
Inside the tank, anaerobic bacteria help to break down or decompose waste, reducing the volume. However, this process still doesn’t keep up with the waste going into the system, so a vacuum-equipment truck may have to come and take it away periodically. Meanwhile, once relatively clear of waste, the liquid is drained into a drain field, which is typically adjacent to the home or building.
Get Specific Advice from a Certified Home Inspector
If you’re looking at rural real estate with a septic tank, be sure to have it checked over by a professional home inspection company before you finalize the deal. The costs can be extremely high for failed septic tanks, so it’s better to know what to expect and how to keep your system functioning longer.
There are two types of septic inspections. A functional inspection is thorough and in-depth, and can only be done by a septic contractor. However, a maintenance inspection can be performed by a home inspector with specific certification. This includes a walk-through of where your system’s components are and how to properly maintain it, and in many cases, it’s included in your home inspection costs. Be sure to hire a professional inspection service and ask questions as you walk through the home and septic system.
Don’t Chuck Everything Down the Drain!
It’s a lesson you teach your five-year-old, but sometimes adults still need reminders on what you can and can’t put down your drains.
When you have an acreage or farm with a septic tank, these rules need to be drilled in even deeper, because they can cause serious backups. Keeping your drains free from these items will help maintain the health of your septic system:
- Grease and oils
- Non-biodegradable objects (such as cigarette butts or feminine hygiene products)
- Items that will upset the balance of bacteria, including food (which can cause bacteria to overproduce) or chemicals (which can kill off bacteria in the tank)
Keep Tree Roots & Vehicles Away
Don’t park vehicles on or near your septic field. In fact, keep it clear of pretty much everything. This also includes tree roots, which can block drain pipes or even contribute to cracking in concrete septic tanks. Be sure to plant trees and shrubs a good distance away from the different components of your system.
Keep Other Drainage Away from Your Septic Field
Excess water can overload the system and cause it to back up, which leads to a very messy cleanup (and potential damage to your home and belongings or even serious health issues) as the excess drains back into your pipes. To prevent this, be sure to keep drainage systems such as rainwater runoff spouts away from your septic field.
Be Efficient with Your Water Usage
It’s not only flooding or excessive draining that causes septic backups. Sometimes that water can come from your own home. You can cut back on the water you use by replacing old appliances with water-efficient ones, by reusing clean wastewater before it enters the drains, and by fixing any leaky fixtures.
Learn More About Your Home’s Septic Tank
If you have questions about your home’s septic tank (or any other part of your home), book home inspection services from a trusted professional inspector in the Edmonton area. We’re always happy to give new home buyers some added peace of mind when buying a rural property. Get in touch with our Edmonton home inspectors to book an inspection of your rural property near St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc, or any of the surrounding areas.