Treating Your Old Septic System With Kid Gloves

Septic tanks — and the leech pipes and leech fields associated with them — only last so long. If your septic system has not been replaced in more than two decades, it's time to start thinking about having it replaced. But in the meantime, treating it with "kid gloves" can help you avoid overflows, backups, and other issues that often come with old septic systems. Here's how to play nice with your aging septic system.

If it's yellow...

You've probably heard the old adage, "If it's yellow, let it mellow..." Perhaps you laughed this advice off as being gross or outdated when you first heard it, but when you have an old septic system, it really is a good guideline to follow. Only flushing the toilet when it contains solid waste will drastically decrease the amount of water that gets sent into your septic tank. Old septic tanks that have a lot of waste build up in the bottom and are in need of pumping don't have a ton of space for water, so limiting the water that flows into them will help prevent overflows and waste backups into your home.

Don't use harsh cleaners

The bacteria in your septic tank are working hard to break down solids so they can be flushed out of your septic tank. If you use harsh chemical cleaners, like bleach or ammonia, they will kill some of these bacteria. This will cause waste to accumulate even faster in the tank. Switch to milder cleaners like vinegar and dish soap until you're able to have your septic tank replaced.

Only flush toilet paper

Paper towels, feminine hygiene products, cotton balls — these items belong in the trash can, not in your toilet. This is always true, but it's even more vital to follow the rule when your septic tank is old and struggling. Toilet paper breaks down in your septic tank. These other items don't; they just take up space, leaving even less space for water and waste. 

Don't drive on it

The leech field, which is the soil into which the waste water from the septic tank flows, tends to become compacted and less effective as a septic system ages. You don't want to make this matter even worse by parking or driving on the septic leech field. Make sure guests who come over do not park in the part of your yard that's a leech field, and keep heavy items, like dumpsters, off of this area as well.

Treat your old septic system with kid gloves, and it may keep chugging away for another year or two before you absolutely need to have it replaced or extensively maintained. For more information, contact companies like LP Murray.