SEPTIC TANK MAINTENANCE
The main function of a septic tank is to separate solids, grease and oils from the wastewater before entering the drainage system. Septic tanks, when installed correctly, work effectively for many years when properly maintained.
Sewage and effluent produce disease causing microorganisms and parasites, as such maintenance and clearing of septic systems must be carried out by licensed liquid waste technicians. The frequency of pumping and system maintenance is governed by mandatory guidelines in line with wastewater treatment tank regulations.
If septic tanks and ATU systems accumulate a build-up of solid and sludge over time separation is unable to take place, and the pits/tank must be pumped out, tanks should ideally never be more than two-thirds full.
Desludging or Vacuuming
To avoid blockages or solids, grease and oils entering the drainage system it is necessary to have septic tanks pumped out, also referred to as desludging.
This requires a licensed liquid waste contractor to open the septic tank and pump out the pits.
Septic tank vacuuming is required before sludge levels reach 30% of the total tank volume.
Recommended Septic Tank Maintenance / Clearing
- It is recommended that septic tanks are pumped out every three – five years, however maintenance may have to be more frequent based on manufacturer recommendation, the number of people contributing to the wastewater load, blockages or overflow.
- Annual drainage receptacle switch in diverter box for effluent flow
Signs of Septic Tank Problems
- Blocked toilet, blocked shower drain, or gurgling sounds
- Sewage in toilet is slow to drain
- Liquid waste from fixtures slow to drain
- Wet areas are visible at the top of the tank
- Strong or unpleasant odours emitting from tank or near septic tank
- Grass around septic tank grows more prolifically or is greener than other areas
- Pipes are overflowing
Common septic tank problems
- Scum blanket (septic hard crust) becomes too thick and blocks inlet pipe
- Septic inlet or outlet pipes block
- Accumulated sludge
- Cracked or broken tank which can occur from vehicle movement over tanks
- Foreign objects lodged in tank or causing blockages
- Harmful toxic chemicals, including bleach, oils, solvents and household chemicals killing helpful bacteria in system
What not to flush down septics
- Wet wipes
- Disposable diapers
- Sanitary products
- Foreign objects
- Chemicals, medications, paints or large amounts of disinfectant
- Fats or grease
- Motor oils or fuels
- Cigarette butts
- Paper towels or rags
Caring for your Septic Tank
- Conduct annual inspections
- Pump out your system in line with manufacturer recommendation to prevent back up and blockages
- Keep accurate records of system maintenance and the system location
- Practise water conservation, the less wastewater produced the less strain on the system
- Keep traffic off your drain field
- Keep runoff away from the system, including water from guttering and driveways