How To Keep Your Septic System Healthy

Last Updated on June 26, 2020 by Yilin

Many people choose to live in the country because they cherish the peace and quiet, the wide open spaces, and the beauty of nature. Today, however, I am going to talk about something that may not sound or smell that pleasant: Onsite Sewage Treatment & Disposal System (OSTDS). Understanding how these systems work and how to keep them operating efficiently is critical for your family’s health. It is also important to your household’s budget.

What is a septic system?

 

Septic System Illustration
Figure 1. Section-view illustration of a modern septic system under a residential property

Septic systems come in many types and sizes. The most common onsite wastewater treatment system is conventional septic system (Figure 1). It consists of a septic tank and a soil absorption field, which is also called a drainfield. When sewer leaves a home, it goes to the septic tank first, which is an enclosed watertight container where the solids are separated from liquid wastes. There, microorganisms begin to break down organic matters in the wastewater. Then the partially treated wastewater moved to the drainfield. Drainfield consists of perforated pipes and soil, where treated household wastewater will evaporate, be used by plants, or drain deeper into the soil, and potentially into groundwater.

Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) are the other type of septic systems using in Florida. ATUs are like a miniature municipal wastewater treatment plant in your yard. An aerobic system injects oxygen into the treatment tank. The increased oxygen level increases natural bacterial activity and then reduce the nutrients in the effluent. We can usually find ATUs in homes with smaller lots, inadequate soil conditions, or for these homes that are close to a surface water body .

The operation and maintenance depended on:

  • The treatment methods used to remove contaminants in the wastewater;
  • The amount of wastewater that the system handles;
  • The strength of the wastewater, such as solids, nutrients, organic matters, and pathogens.

 

How to maintain a conventional septic system?

Generally speaking, a typical three-bedroom home with a 1000-gallon septic tank needs to have solids removed every three to five years. Smaller tanks must be pumped more often. Do not put this job off until the tank and sewer fill up and the toilet overflows onto the bathroom floor. If this happens, a new drainfield may also have to be installed.

 

Do septic tank additives work?

Believe or not, your septic tank additives that “clean” the tank are not clean. They are either not significantly effectively or may cause the solids to be flushed from the septic tank into the drianfield, causing clogging problems. Other compounds may produce a septic tank effluent which will destroy soil structure and cause premature failure of the drain field.

 

What can I flush?

In recent years, the use of products such as “flushable” wipes have been advertised as a better cleaning experience when compared to traditional toilet paper. These products are marketed in a variety of ways, such as “septic-safe”, “break down like toilet paper,” and “safe for sewer and septic.” The problem is that they appear to take longer time to break down when compared to traditional toilet paper. As a result they may cause major blockages in sewer systems and have to be manually removed from lift stations. Wipes that clog pipes can also cause sewage overflow into the house.

Keep in mind, everything that goes down your drains ends up in your septic system, whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower, or bath. What goes down the drains affects how well your septic system works. An easy rule of thumb: Do not flush anything besides 4Ps. We all know the first 2Ps. The other two are paper and puke. Your septic system contains a collection of living organisms that digest and treat household waste. Think at the sink. Never pour cooking oil or grease down the drains. Eliminating or limiting the use of garbage disposal will significantly reduce the amount of fats, grease, and solids that enter your septic tank and ultimately clogs its drainfield.

Septic system maintenance is not complicated, and it does not need to be expensive. If you follow these tips, inspect and pump frequently, properly dispose of water, use water efficiently, and maintain your drainfield, you should have a nearly trouble free system. Your septic system is out of sight but do not keep it out of mind!

To learn more about septic systems, please visit https://water.ifas.ufl.edu/septic-systems/your-septic-system/

0


Posted: June 26, 2020


Category: Natural Resources, , Water
Tags: Clogged Pipes, Septic Additives, Septic System, Septic Tank, Yilin Zhuang


Comments:

Komendy Windows
January 24, 2022

with the perfect subject. Thanks for a great valuable project. Great work! Keep up the ultra do the webjob!

Denise Lictawa
October 14, 2021

Great job cousin. Loved reading this. Yay Taylor woot woot!

Yilin

September 30, 2021

Thank you for your interest. You can find all the Water Wednesday recordings on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD1BxYa33g85HaQCLMz99CQ/videos

elizabeth major
September 30, 2021

Where can I watch The Power of Ponds?

Vijeet
August 25, 2021

That's superb,congratulations Yuvaraj Khamare!

Ok ok, letsgo
August 23, 2021

Looking forward to reading more. Great post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

Yilin

August 17, 2021

Update: We will switch this class to Zoom. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Yilin

August 6, 2021

Thank you for your interest. You do not need to bring water samples to the event. We will hand out testing kits at the event.

Sidney
August 6, 2021

What size water sample is needed for the testing? A Pint?

Yilin

August 3, 2021

Thank you for your interest. The webinars are recorded. We are building a webpage to house all the recordings. Please stay tuned!

Rodney Hyde
August 2, 2021

Hello Yilin, I work for a local jursidiction and was wondering if you would be able to offer a presentation on this subject at our conference this year.

Peter Meyer
July 30, 2021

I wish you would record the seminars so those of us who cannot attend live could see the seminar later.

Yilin

July 23, 2021

Thank you for your interest. We are building a webpage to house all the recordings. Please stay tuned!

Yilin

July 23, 2021

Thank you for your interest. The event will be held at the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County. The address is 16110 Aviation Loop Dr., Brooksville, FL 34604.

Diane Kirby
July 15, 2021

Would like to attend but where is this event located?

Carolyn Mudgette
July 15, 2021

How do we access webinars that we missed? Thanks!

Yilin

June 26, 2021

Thank you for your interest. Recordings will be available after the webinar is conducted.

David Dame
June 25, 2021

Please make the webinars available for those who cannot attend sessions.

David Dame
June 25, 2021

Very timely topic.

contractors2021
June 17, 2021

This article is excellent. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article regarding your ideas about septic systems. The Tulsa Septic Service website is an excellent resource. You can learn more at www.tulsasepticservice.com.

Tech
April 30, 2021

Such an amazing content about AI. Way to go!

Yilin

April 22, 2021

Thank you for your interest. I am sorry you have time conflict. Please register the topics that you are interested. We will share the recordings with the registrants including those who are unable to attend.

Jill Hendrickson
April 21, 2021

I am interested in this series. I am in clinic seeing patients every Thursday and am wondering if there will be an opportunity to see this series online/evenings.

Yilin

March 1, 2021

Thank you!

Tech
February 27, 2021

Ai is the new thing. It has so much potential. Nice article by the way

Caroline Warwick

February 22, 2021

Nancy, what are you treating specifically?

Nancy Hodgkins
February 13, 2021

Do you have any organic herbicides to recommend?

Donna Torrey

January 27, 2021

Great to hear about the Tree-cycling and Chop and Drop as ways to compost! I have been landscaping like this for over 15 years and the results are remarkable. I use no fertilizer (except on veggies) and my additional water use is minimal. My trees and shrubs never need pesticides or interventions and are beautiful. It works and keeps all that bio-mass out of the landfills! Thank you for spreading the word.

Mark Taylor
January 22, 2021

Thank you for sharing this beautiful information with us about the Health of Septic Tank System. if you are looking for < Septic tank installations in Colchester Essex Try Ashwaste Environmental, they provide this type of services in Colchester, Chelmsford, Epping, Essex, and nearby areas.

Rachel Frampton
January 12, 2021

My dad noticed that his septic tank is producing an awful smell, which is why he's thinking of having it pumped. Well, it never occurred to me that smaller tanks will need more pumping. I'll also keep in mind to tell him that he must not flush wipes or tissues in his toilet since this may cause a blockage.

Ryan Gregory
December 29, 2020

Hello Dr. Warwick. Is it possible for me to register to view a recrording of this webinar? Thank you!

Yilin

December 14, 2020

Thank you for your comments. Florida's springs are facing various complex threats, including decreasing spring flows and excessive nutrients. Spring flows decrease because of declining water levels in the groundwater aquifer that sustains them. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Withdrawals, Uses, and Trends in Florida, 2015 report indicated that 5,720.82 million gallons of water were withdrawn every day. Commercial-industrial-institutional-mining (CIIM) freshwater withdrawals are reported at 408.99 million gallons per day (MGD). Bottled water companies are one industry included in CIIM category. On Page 21 of the report (https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2019/5147/sir20195147.pdf): “Food production (including water-bottling) accounted for about 20 MGD of the freshwater withdrawals in this category in 2015, of which about one-quarter (5 MGD) was withdrawn specifically for water-bottling.” As a Floridan, we are all responsible to reduce the plastic use and protect our water resources.

Jayant Kowe
November 28, 2020

Work done by Mr Yuvraj is quite remarkable and may prove very beneficial for farming sectors around the globe especially for country like India where 70% of population is dependent on agriculture directly or indirectly. We also work with farming equipment provider giant in India Mahindra & Mahindra. We manufacture components for there tractor and are manufacturing partner. You can get details in our website www.dishaengg.com , company name is Disha Engineering, Nagpur. Best wishes to Mr Yuvraj for his work.

Nick Dennis
November 18, 2020

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/15/opinion/bottled-water-is-sucking-florida-dry.html you people are either 2 faced or have your heads in the sand, companies are destroying our springs

David Dale
November 18, 2020

If the springs are so valuable (which I agree with BTW) then why are applications from companies like Nestle even considered? They drain the aquifer, generate single use plastic, and don't provide any real financial benefit.

Annie
July 31, 2020

Hello Angela, Your blog seems a great help for students. I want to introduce our George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program Deadline: 29th Sept 2020 Apply Now https://www.helptostudy.com/george-j-mitchell-scholarship-program/

Yuvraj

July 21, 2020

yes, I dry the young leaves and flowers to use it along with green tea.

Rochelle
July 15, 2020

Is this garden project still active? Would Robby Pletcher reach out to me, please?

Benjamin Markus
July 9, 2020

Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) is edible! Try a flower.

moura justin
June 17, 2020

I really enjoyed over there.I have also attended this event.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

Really enjoyed this article post.Really thank you! Great.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article post. Much obliged.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

I think this is a real great article post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

suba suba
June 11, 2020

Looking forward to reading more. Great article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

Kris
June 10, 2020

Having a no or low tolerance for a landscape would be the ideal way to enhance and get rid of my grass! Enjoyed your post.

Yilin

June 8, 2020

Thank you for your kind words. We always appreciate the education too.

Yilin

June 8, 2020

Hi there. We don't generally recommend septic system additives. Studies found septic system additives are not significantly effective to increase the bacteria or the sludge level in the tank.

Dearik
May 31, 2020

Hi Yilin, thanks for sharing these. Do you recommend septic treatment chemicals? https://nodrippingsewage.org

Yilin

May 26, 2020

Thanks for you interest. This is the map of the 2014 Florida Department of Environmental Protection verified list of impaired waters, which contained 2575 entries. Here you can find an updated list: https://floridadep.gov/dear/watershed-assessment-section/content/assessment-lists

Anh Volmer
May 25, 2020

What year was the map of 2,600 bodies of water impaired? was that map from 2018?

Vanessa
May 16, 2020

Hi, I would appreciate Non-chemical recommendation To control Corinespora Leaf spot Infestation on a young Papaya tree. I’m trying to do my small in-house papaya garden but I’ve notice these leaf lesions which I think is this fungal infection based on my own research. I’m using natural home made compost and even small trees are budding nicely but this new infection might ruin my papayas. I don't want artificial chemicals. Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated. This is a new hobby for me. Thanks

Carmen
April 17, 2020

This is pretty cool! Makes me want to go out and try gardening veggies after several tries years ago. Thanks for the information!

Sanjeet Singh
April 16, 2020

Information given is very useful for us in India Weed management is very difficult here in India

James
April 3, 2020

I might wanna do this soon. Own weather station, plus web scraping of hourly data for comparison. Got my spidey senses riled up by something a few days ago.

Heidi
April 1, 2020

What would we do without all these adorable pets? Thank you Caroline

Liz
March 31, 2020

Something positive, what a fun post!

Chris
March 31, 2020

LOL So funny to see all the critters.

Nancy McD
March 31, 2020

Really fun and well done. Keep up the good work and thanks for making the day a little better.

Jake
March 31, 2020

Nice fun post Caroline Roper Warwick.

Carmen
March 31, 2020

These were so cool! I had to laugh at some of these. So cute! Just what we need right now.

G. Skinner
March 26, 2020

Thank you for making this clear. The packages should have clear printing so you know without searching for these warnings. We do not need clogged pipes added on to what we are facing now. Appreciate the education.

Angela Colonna

November 15, 2019

We had a great time on our tour and learned a lot! It's great work, we agree.

April M.
November 15, 2019

Awesome work!!!

Amber Shahzadi
July 8, 2019

its really beautiful very nice

Amber Shahzadi
July 6, 2019

thanks for sharing its really amazing

Daniel F. McDade
March 6, 2019

Nice to see that the "advanced scaffolding and lift system" that I designed and fabricated in 2004 is still being used today. Simple and basic in design it rolls along the overhead heating pipes giving access to the plants from one end of the facility to the other across the full width.

Angela Colonna
February 22, 2019

Thanks for reaching out! For more information about plants in the Tampa area check with the Hillsborough County Extension office: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/ To find plant suppliers, go here: https://www.plantant.com/ Click on 'plants' and search for the plant by name.

Steve Welborn
February 15, 2019

Your picture of maiden hair fern is not the Pedatum species ( or five finger fern) I would like to know if the Pedatum species can be grown in shady,sandy soil Tampa gardens. And, if so where can I buy sevreal? Thanks.

Mack patel
February 11, 2019

Nice post!

Angela Colonna

February 4, 2019

Joe's Nursery is located in Florida but the nursery ships items to South Carolina for clients. So unfortunately you would not be able to visit the business for future travels.

Renee Enlund
September 19, 2018

I just traveled thru SC. Where is Joe's Nursery located? I'd love to visit on my next trip. Renee Enlund, Master Gardener Bay Co. Fl.

Tom
August 19, 2018

That's a very motivated brilliant young lady.She is an asset to any lucky company.

Tom
August 19, 2018

That's a very motivated brilliant young lady.She is an asset to a very lucky company.

Zahid
July 8, 2018

thank u for your site..very useful..Zahid

Native Plant Consulting
June 26, 2018

I recently met Dottie on the Native Landscape Tour at The Villages, sponsored by the Florida Assn. of Native Nurseries. A couple of weeks later, she visited St. Augustine to learn more about how I do business. She is passionate about her business and most of all - about the sustainability of our wildlife and food production through the utilization of native plants in our landscapes. Dottie and Kevin rock. Check out their website and visit their beautiful nursery.

Mariano curiel
June 6, 2018

Good work,very interesting,this can grow Texas climate conditions?

Michelle
June 6, 2018

I loved this article It made me want to get my own fairy garden

Carolyn Kieler
June 2, 2018

I love what Dottie and Kevin are doing with their property and their lives. And they keep honeybees too!!!

Michelle
May 28, 2018

Whoa this is awesome!

Tammy Stockdill
May 24, 2018

Impressive to hear about and see.

Cathy Lowenstein
May 23, 2018

What a great example of a nursery enterprise working with natural processes and promoting environmentally friendly gardening! The demonstration garden looks intriguing.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories