Last week was officially named SepticSmart week by the Environmental Protection Agency! The SepticSmart initiative is designed to raise awareness on the importance of septic system maintenance and the impact of poorly maintained systems. The EPA has provided resources to homeowners in order to properly educate them regarding their septic system. ¼ of all United States residents’ wastewater is managed by a septic system. In order to be more septic smart with water use, maintenance and pumpouts, it’s important that homeowners know the basics.
Do I have a septic system?
If you are renting, recently purchased your home or just moved into a home and do not know whether you have a septic system, here are a few signs to look for
- If you use well water.
- If you have no meter on your water line.
- If you have no sewer charge on your water bill.
- If your neighbors have a septic system.
All of these should be indicators that your home is serviced by a septic system.
How do I know if my septic system is malfunctioning or needs to be serviced?
Ideally, when homes are purchased, there would be a point of sale septic inspection conducted. However, if you don’t know when your tank was last inspected or pumped, it’s important to know the signs of a malfunctioning system.
- Wastewater backup into household drains.
- Bright green, spongy grass in the area of the drainfield.
- A strong odor around the septic tank and drainfield.
These signs are often indications that your system requires a pumpout or repairs.
How often should my septic system be pumped out?
The EPA recommends that you should pump out your system every 3 to 5 years at a minimum. Pumpout requirements for your individual system or home vary depending on water usage, the size of your system and the number of people that reside in your home. Systems should be pumped out more frequently if you often have houseguests or have parties at your home. Pay attention to the warning signs and become more familiar with your system in order to avoid issues and keep your system operating optimally for years to come.
The more you know about your septic system, the better you’ll be able to maintain it. Remember that each home and septic system is different and that the EPA requirements for pumpouts should be a reference point. You may have to have your system pumped more frequently based on use. By knowing the warning signs and having your system regularly maintained you will be doing your part to help save the environment in addition to saving yourself costly repairs associated with malfunctioning and improperly maintained systems.