Three Little Habits You May Not Realize Are Bad For Your Septic System

When your septic system is working properly, you should not even notice that it's there. Unfortunately, the phrase "out of sight, out of mind" holds up in this case. When your septic system is behaving itself, it's easy to end up developing habits that are not so good for the system, and then eventually the system will act up. Don't wait for the system to malfunction in order to change your ways. Here are three common habits that are bad for your septic tank -- and that you should work on breaking right now.

Using a lot of harsh cleaners.

Your septic tank relies on bacteria to break down the solid waste. If you use a lot of harsh cleaners like bleach and ammonia -- and end up flushing these cleaners down your drains -- you may reduce the levels of bacteria in your tank. This could cause your tank to overflow and require pumping sooner. Try to stick to natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda as often as possible. If you do need to use cleaners like bleach and ammonia, toss the wash water into a patch of gravel or a part of your yard that you don't mind killing rather than rinsing it down the drain.

Relying on your garbage disposal.

All of the solid waste that goes down your drain after being ground up in the garbage disposal ends up gathering in the bottom of your septic tank. It can take it a long time to break down, and if you rinse too much down there, your tank may overflow or require premature pumping. Try to use your garbage disposal sparingly. Put bigger pieces of food waste directly in the trash or compost, and use the disposal only for small amounts of food waste on your plates and the like.

Flushing things other than toilet paper.

Items like sanitary pads and tampons just don't break down properly in your septic tank. They can lead to clogs and backups. Paper towels, Kleenex, and personal wipes can cause similar issues. A good rule to keep in mind is to only flush the three P items: pee, poo, and paper (toilet paper).

If you've been practicing these habits regularly, it's a good idea to have a septic pumping service out to check over your system. This way, you can ensure any issues are addressed before they lead to flooding or more substantial damage.