- Building & Codes
- Private Wastewater Systems (Septic)
- Caring For Your Septic System
Caring For Your Septic System
Owning a property on private wastewater instead of city sewer is a very common occurrence for residents of De Soto. Taking care of your private wastewater system is crucial to ensure that you have a well functioning system to handle you and your family's wastewater needs safely and efficiently for years to come. Here are some easy things you can do to ensure your system continues working for years to come.
- Have your septic tank pumped regularly
- Only flush approved materials
- Food/Grease disposal in trash
- Avoid septic treatment products
- Prevent excess water use
- Maintain a healthy lawn
- Call for help before repair
Routine pumping is essential for proper function of your private wastewater. Pumping will remove all of the solids and sludge from your septic tank before they become to great and enter the absorption field causing a major problem.
The recommended pumping interval is every 3-5 years depending on use of the system and number of occupants of the house. To ensure you never miss a pumping ask your septic pumping company to put you on their callback list for the recommended interval of 3-5 years and they will make sure you don't miss a service.
All pumping must be completed by a licensed pumping contractor with Johnson County. This list can be found on their website at the link below.
Using a private wastewater system you should always be mindful of what is going down your drain and being flushed down your toilet. Only approved waste should enter your septic system to ensure its continued function and prevent any future problems.
- Human Waste
- Toilet Paper
Not Approved Materials
- Wet wipes. (Even if they are labeled as "flushable" or "septic safe")
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- All other items not listed under Approved Materials
Many items are marketed as septic safe or flushable, especially wet wipes. Even though the manufacturers of these products believe them to be safe, research has shown that they do not break down in your septic tank like toilet paper and human waste do causing a potential hazard to your system. When these items don't break down in your system they stay in your septic tank until they are pumped out. If these items make it to the dispersion field they will not break down there either and can not be pumped out causing potential for major issues with your private wastewater system.
All food waste and excess grease should be disposed of properly regardless of if you are on private wastewater or city sewer. However, being on private wastewater, this is even more crucial for the longevity of your system. All food waste and grease should be disposed of into the garbage at your home instead of being run down the drain and into your private wastewater system.
Grease is especially harmful to your system as it will become very hard once it cools and can cause serious clogs in your plumbing system as well as your septic tank. These clogs can lead to costly repairs or replacement of your private wastewater system.
Garbage disposal units are a major contributor to food waste being run down the drain instead of disposed into the garbage can to be taken out with your weekly trash. Reducing or even eliminating the use of a garbage disposal for residents on private wastewater systems is a sure way to help reduce the amount of grease and food waste that makes it's way to your septic system.
Septic system treatment products marketed to consumers to increase the effectiveness of their private wastewater system are not necessary. Research by KDHE and K-State have shown that there is no greater benefit to your system from these products than proper care and ensuring only approved materials are being disposed of into your system. In fact, some treatments can cause more harm than good your system leading to costly repairs down the road. Compared to the cost of regular pumping, additives do not extend the amount of time before pumping or provide any benefit making them a waste of your money.
Private wastewater systems are self regulated environments that flourish naturally without the help of biological or chemical additives. The key to a functioning private wastewater system is the micro-organisms that live within your tank and work night and day to decompose your household waste. Most additives claim to increase the number of micro-organisms doing the job in your tank but this is not necessary. Human waste has plenty of micro-organisms in it that will multiply rapidly once inside your tank to reach optimum efficiency. Studies have shown that adding extra biological additives does not increase the diversity of the micro-organisms in your septic tank.
If you are thinking of adding chemicals or biological additives to restart activity after having your tank pumped or to restore a faulty lateral system, DON'T. Normal use will restart the biological activity in your tank naturally within a couple of days of having the system pumped. If you are having issues with your lateral system there is not amount of store bought additives that will remedy this. You need to contact a licensed private wastewater contractor to inspect your system and give you a recommendation for repair to ensure that the problem does not get worse. Often times, additives accelerate this problem.
Excess amounts of water entering your private wastewater system will lead to issues such as leaking, backing up, or complete failure. This is because your system is designed based on your house and the use it will see. Below is a list of things you can do to prevent excess water entering your system.
- Ensure leaking fixtures and toilets are repaired as soon as the problem is identified.
- Avoid sump pump and foundation drains discharging into your septic tank. (This is a violation of City Code and is grounds for failure during resale inspection.)
- Install a watertight riser and lid at grade. (These are more water tight that concrete lids and are required to pass a resale inspection.)
- Install water saving fixtures in your home to reduce your water bill as well as reduce the amount of water entering your system.
- Spread out high volume water usage such as clothes washer and shower/baths to avoid overloading your system.
All of these things can help reduce the amount of unnecessary water entering your private wastewater system and reduce the chance of overload. Normal household water use is what these systems are designed to handle, so the list above is designed to help reduce unnecessary water intrusion that the system is not designed for to prevent a problem.
Maintaining a healthy lawn on top of your absorption field is crucial to good septic system health. This is because septic systems are designed in a manner that not all of the water is absorbed into the soil but evaporated into the air as well. Healthy grass (3-4") on top of the absorption field allows the water to be absorbed by the roots of the grass and used as fuel that is then evaporated into the air through its leaves. Without healthy lawns on top of absorption fields this process cannot happen and therefore could lead to premature failure of the system.
A healthy lawn also prevents erosion on top of the field. Most absorption fields are designed to function with a specific amount of cover soil and erosion can reduce this amount significantly. This reduction can cause water to leak from the system, grass to struggle to grow, and cause improper function of the absorption field leading to potential issues.
If you are having problems with your private wastewater system don't wait until it gets worse to contact someone for help. If you have a leaking system adding dirt to the spot will only force the system to leak in other areas so call for help before this serious health issues gets worse. Always get the opinion of a licensed septic installer prior to completing any repairs on your system. Often times homeowners try and repair a system themselves which results in larger, more costly issues. If you have questions regarding your system contact our office and we will see what we can do to help or get you in contact with a licensed installer to take a look and formulate a plan for correcting your issues.
All private wastewater work in the City of De Soto must be completed by a septic installer that is licensed with Johnson County. This list of licensed installers can be found at the link below.