As a homeowner, you have many aspects of your home that you need to keep an eye on. Luckily, septic and plumbing maintenance is not as difficult and time-consuming as you might think. In fact, preventative measures will go a long way in maintaining a healthy septic system at your home.
What is a septic system?
A septic system is a private wastewater treatment system for your home. There are typically three components to a septic system including your home's plumbing, a septic tank, and a drain field. Everything that you rinse down your drain or flush in your toilet ends up in your septic tank. Flushing the wrong things can wreak havoc on your septic tank, which is why it is imperative to pay attention to what you flush.
What shouldn't you flush?
Taking care of your septic and general plumbing maintenance involves preventative maintenance. In other words, knowing what you can and cannot flush down a toilet or rinse down a sink drain is key to a healthy septic system. Unfortunately, there are many items that people assume is acceptable to flush when they are not, including:
- Diapers. Diapers may be labeled as "disposable" but do not try to flush one. It is just too big to make it through the plumbing pipes and, more importantly, will take over 450 years to break down.
- Cleaning wipes. Many brands of cleaning wipes state that the product is "flushable" or "biodegradable" which can lead to confusion for consumers. No matter what the box says, cleaning wipes should not be flushed. They can clog both your plumbing and your septic tank.
- Kitty litter. Kitty litter poses a problem, but not for the reason you might think. Pet waste is not the issue; litter is the culprit. Kitty litter is designed to clump when it comes into contact with liquids, making litter boxes easier to clean. When you try to dispose of clumping-style litter in your toilet, however, it creates a blockage that is difficult to clear.
A good rule of thumb is to not flush anything that could block or clog your home's pipes as well as anything that won't biodegrade in a short timeframe.
Can you use cleaning products in your septic tank?
In short, no. While there are products on the market that tout their ability to clean your septic tank on a monthly or as-needed basis, they may do more harm than good. In fact, most plumbing maintenance services suggest avoiding tank additives and cleaners in order to maintain a healthy septic tank.
Proper plumbing maintenance and septic care depend on you treating it well and being conscious of what you flush.