Caring for your individual sewerage treatment plant

How to avoid that stuff hitting the fan!

Have you noticed how we tend to take things for granted?...that is, until it stops doing what we expect it to do.

Do you think about what happens after you've finished in the smallest room of the house and pressed the little button that satisfyingly flushes far, far away all evidence of your em, unwanted waste?

If you own a septic tank then I'm guessing the answer to that question would be yes. You see, being an owner of a septic tank makes you more aware of everything you flush down that toilet or any drain in your home because if you don't look after that ingenious device - you may very well find yourself up to your neck in it, so to speak.

Don't laugh but septic tanks need tender loving care!

If you treat them well they will service your home for an untroubled length of time.  But if you abuse it, things can turn nasty awfully fast.

Experts recommend you have your septic tank cleaned out every 3-5 years. This is to remove the sludge which forms from the solid matter on the bottom of the tank and the scum (a layer of solids) which forms on the top; the natural bacteria in the waste water helps to break down the rest of the solids. Liquid filters through and drains off into the soak pit or through the drain fields (depending on what type of system you have).

This draining off process works best at a slow and steady pace. It's when you overload the system (draining baths or washing machines or even a permanently leaking toilet) that the drain field can struggle and end up overflowing - think about that scene from 'Meet the parents'. Yes sure, funny in the movies but not so in real life.

Not cleaning out your septic tanks  regularly can cause major problems in the long run too. This can case blockages or broken pipes and should the process cease to work properly you can quickly find yourself knee-deep in the em, stuff - or worse still, end up with the whole lot backing up into the pipes which lead back to your home; and believe me, you do not want this to happen.

As with all things - prevention is far better than cure so following a few simple steps will help to prolong the life of your septic tank and hopefully, give you years of worry free flushing.

Here are some tips to help:

  • set up a system to recycle grey water from the bath, shower and washing machine
  • if you can't recycle your grey water be sure to do small amounts of washing through the week rather than leaving it all to do on one day
  • share a bath! the average bath holds approx. 200 liters of water! Or better yet, take showers instead
  • swap your shower head for a water saving one
  • keep a glass in the bathroom for brushing and rinsing teeth instead of running the tap for the whole time
  • don't flush the toilet every single time you use it - go with the "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down" policy
  • keep the area around your septic tank and drain field free of trees - tree roots can cause disastrous damage
  • never flush sanitary products (or condoms) down the toilet
  • swap bleaches or harsh chemicals for natural cleaning products
  • never flush coffee grounds, hair, chemicals or paint down the drain
  • use a washing up bowl while doing the dishes and empty the water on the garden

Take care of your home's individual sewerage treatment plant and you will end up smelling of roses and not something rather nasty!