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How to Care for Rural Septic Tank Systems


Rural septic systems are basically wastewater treatment structures built underground to treat sewage and waste water in rural areas where municipal sewage lines are not yet available. These rural septic systems make use of chemicals, technology and natural processes to treat the waste products from toilets, bathrooms, laundries and kitchen drains. A typical rural septic system is made up of a septic tank, a drain-field and an area allowing for soil absorption.  In the septic tank itself, there are substances that breakdown the organic waste products as well as separating the oil and grease and other flowing materials from the actual wastewater. The effluent from the rural septic system then discharges the remaining product through perforated pipes or leaching chambers until it reaches an area where the water is absorbed into the soil. Some septic tank systems make use of pumps to push the wastewater in to the cycle which others are designed to allow for gravity to do the work so that the waste is trickled out over treatment areas to remove all harmful contaminants.

If you are unsure about where your septic tank is, you might need to look at the drawings of your home, look for manhole covers in the yard or contact a septic inspector to help you find it. There are a number of reasons why you need to know where it is, one specific reason has to do with septic system care. A failed or poorly functioning rural septic system can be a major health hazard. One of the aspects of septic system care is checking for warning signs of failure.  These can include strong odours around the septic tank area, bright green grass with a spongy feel in the drain-field area, muddy soil or pooled water in the area as well as wastewater backing up into the drains.

Part of your septic tank care should include regular inspections. Record changes, pump renewals and when your septic tank was last emptied. This should be a minimum of at least once every 4 years. Reduce your water use if you do find a problem to prevent further back up and bring in a professional to handle the repair to the septic tank.

Some of the main issues that septic tanks fail are because people flush down all sorts of items that are inappropriate and detrimental to the system.  These include: coffee grounds, fats and oils, excess chemicals, diapers, cigarette butts, facial tissues or anything else that is not biodegradable. These items will not be able to be broken down by the rural septic system which could cause it to become plugged up and fill the septic tank. If you have a smaller septic tank you may need to have it pumped more often as well, and if you live in cold climates, you may need more regular cleaning due to slow bacterial functions. If you suspect a blocked or full septic tank, ensure you get the matter attended to urgently to prevent harmful sewage spills.

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