Keeping your septic system happy is usually a matter of infrequent maintenance and careful day-to-day usage. Here are four tips to help you adjust your day-to-day usage and your maintenance to avoid a clogged baffle, which could cause the tank to back up into your home.
1. Put All Trash in the Trash Can
You've probably heard that septic tanks are designed to handle only wastewater, human waste, and toilet tissue. But if you don't know the specifics of how and why, it could be difficult to stick to these principles. For example, flushing a piece of dental floss or a flushable wipe or even the hair from your hairbrush may seem harmless but can easily clog a baffle.
That's because small, lightweight items can float but don't break down once they hit the water. This means they float inside the septic tank rather than falling to the bottom with the rest of the solid waste. The baffle is designed to keep solids from getting into the vulnerable leach field lines, but if there are a lot of solids, they can actually cause the baffle to clog up.
Some other small, lightweight items that can help cause this problem if flushed down the toilet include:
- Single-use flossers
- Cotton swabs
- Cotton balls
- Baby wipes
- Tampon applicators
You get the picture. To protect yourself from backups, you need to always put these and other trash items, no matter their size, into the trash can rather than flushing them.
2. Babyproof the Toilets
You train your children not to flush random items down the toilet, but babies and toddlers often cause problems by doing just that. If you have a baby or toddler, each toilet in your home should be babyproofed not only for protection against clogs but also because the standing water creates a drowning hazard.
You can easily apply a lid lock to each toilet as a quick DIY project, and you can keep bathroom doors shut (and childproof the handle) for additional safety.
3. Pump the Tank and Clean the Baffles Regularly
One common reason for septic problems is that the owners didn't pump the tank out. This neglect can often take several years before it causes a problem, but when it does, the issues can range from mild clogging to sewage backup in your home and a completely failed drainfield.
If you have a filtered baffle, it will need to be cleaned with every pumping. Clogged baffles are a common casualty of neglect. You probably don't need to have your tank pumped and your baffle cleaned every single year, but you should have the levels checked each year along with your regular septic system inspection.
4. Avoid Using Garbage Disposal
One way you can fill your septic tank up quite quickly is by using the garbage disposal in your kitchen sink to dispose of food scraps. If you have a septic tank, you really need to choose an alternative form of disposal. Perhaps you could feed some scraps to a dog or save them for a neighbor's chickens, or you could even compost them if you don't want to throw them in the trash.
The reason you shouldn't put food scraps down the kitchen drain is that even though they're ground up, they tend to act as solid wastes. This means they settle to the bottom of the septic tank with the other solids, increasing the layer of sludge.
The more quickly you fill your septic tank up with sludge, the more frequently it will need to be pumped if you want it to stay in usable shape. If it fills up and doesn't get pumped out in time, the solids can reach the outlet pipe and start trying to make their way to the drainfield.These tips will help you avoid a septic tank baffle clog. Be sure to contact American Waste Septic to set up a reasonable maintenance plan that will keep your septic tank in good health.