By Robert Lucke
The calendar says it is spring, and even though sometimes Mother Nature is not acting like it, still, it is time to check out your septic system.
Heidi Bischoff, sanitarian with the Hill County Health Department, has some spring septic system tips.
First, Bischoff suggested never flushing the following items down your system: coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers, kitty litter, sanitary napkins/tampons, cigarette butts, condoms, fat, grease, oil, paper towels, paints, varnishes, paint thinners, waste oils, photographic solutions and pesticides.
"Those items can overtax or destroy the biologic digestion that takes place naturally in your septic system," she said. "Most household products won't adversely affect your septic system if used properly, but drain cleaners are the exception."
Even a tiny amount of drain cleaner can kill the necessary bacteria and temporarily disrupt the operation of a tank.
Some common warning signs of a failing septic system are slowly draining sinks and drains, gurgling sounds in the plumbing, plumbing backups, sewage odors in the house and yard, wet or mushy ground, grass growing faster and greener in one area of the yard, and well water tests that show the presence of bacteria.
Bischoff added some more tips to care for your septic system.
Conserve water. Drain fields that are continuously saturated lack the ability to remove toxins, bacteria, viruses and other pollutants from the wastewater. Repair all leaking faucets and running toilets, and run dishwashers and washing machines only when they have full loads. Install water-saving devices on faucets, toilets and showers to reduce water usage by 50 percent. Space out any activities that require lots of heavy water use, like the laundry, over a couple days' time. Divert water from roof drains, sump pumps and surface water away from the drain field.
Flush wisely. Don't flush anything that can be disposed of in the garbage. Garbage disposals can use up to 50 percent of septic tank space and are not recommended for use with septic systems.
Pump your tank. Solids can move into the drain field and clog your expensive system.
Have an annual inspection. The cost of an annual inspection is a fraction of the cost of a new system. Hire a professional to thoroughly inspect the entire system and check for cracked pipes and the condition of tees and baffles.
Plant wisely around your system. Plant only grass near your septic system and don't allow driving over the system. Grass is the most preferred cover for the drain field.
Have more questions? Contact Bischoff at 265-5481.