There are so many myths about septic systems, and it makes sense. A home is one of the biggest investments many of us will ever make; if your home runs on a septic system, it requires regular maintenance and care to keep it working properly – just like your home.
However, it's good to separate fact from fiction. You don't need to buy septic additives. Instead, get your septic system inspected every year and pump it as needed. Annual inspections can find problems when they are smaller and easier to deal with, and a regular pumping schedule based on the number of people and activities in the home will keep your system working properly. Instead of expensive additives, save up every month for the annual inspection and regular pumping that will keep it working well.
As with most things, daily habits matter. Take shorter showers, spread laundry out over the week, and run the dishwasher only when full to keep water from overloading the system. Reduce the use of your garbage disposal to keep undigested food from clogging pipes, and pay attention to the household products that you use. Choose products that say caution or warning and avoid those that say danger or poison. The septic system is a living system and needs careful care and maintenance to work properly.
If you have children or overnight guests, teach them how important it is to keep things like wipes and toys out of the toilet. Only human waste and toilet paper should ever be flushed. Some wipes claim to be flushable, but once they get into your septic tank, they don't break down as quickly or as easily as toilet paper. Unfortunately, wipes, toys, cotton swabs, condoms, feminine hygiene products, pet waste, and other items can cause clogs and even lead to system failure.
Perhaps the biggest myth of them all: food and yeast. Do not throw food or yeast into the septic tank or flush it down the toilet! This is not helpful and can cause harm to the system. Eat the food and let it end up in the septic system the natural way.
On-site septic systems can be "out of sight, out of mind," but if you wait until there is a noticeable issue, the repairs will likely be much more costly. A septic system not working well when you need it is always an inconvenience. Regular inspections can find problems before they are big and smelly!
Bottom line, caring for your on-site septic system will help it last as long as possible, protect our drinking water, lakes, rivers, streams, the Puget Sound, and keep your family and community safer!
For more information on septic care, scan our QR code below or visit www.thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/Pages/septic-faq.aspx. If you still have questions, please contact Thurston County Environmental Health, Septic Operations and Maintenance Program at (360) 867-2626 or (360) 867-2640. You can also email your questions to email@example.com.