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Preventing Septic Backup: How Important Are Tank Inspections Anyway?

Out of sight, out of mind, right? It can be easy to get behind on the maintenance of your septic tank, since you rarely have a reason to think about it. Ironically, despite this, your septic system is probably the part of your plumbing most dependent on regular maintenance to prevent malfunctions.

You Have to Fix It before It Breaks

With most parts of your home's plumbing, it's easy to just put off maintenance until something breaks. Replacing a leaky seal or unclogging a stopped-up toilet isn't too difficult for the average homeowner to do, so it's tempting to just ignore your plumbing until something goes wrong, and then fix the problem. Unfortunately, this approach to maintaining your septic tank can end in disaster.

Over time, scum in your septic tank can build up, slowly reducing its capacity to process your home's waste water. From the outside, this process is pretty much invisible, since you won't experience any problems using your plumbing like normal. However, once the scum fills up the tank, you're likely to experience a backup. At the very best, this will entail waste water flooding into your home from your drain pipes. At the worse, you could rupture pipes or the tank itself and end up with a flooded home and a yard full of sewage.

What Can You Do to Prevent Backups?

The absolute best way to prevent anything going wrong with your septic system is to have it checked regularly. For small households, a checkup ever year or even two years should be sufficient to keep everything in working order. Larger families may need to have their system checked more often, like every six months or so. During an ideal septic tank check, the plumber will run a camera down into your tank and investigate whether there's any buildup of scum.

If your check reports that the solid waste is close to blocking off the drainage pipe and causing a backup, you'll want to have the tank pumped. This process takes around a day to complete and will reset the clock on your risk for drainage problems. While the usual strategy for choosing when to pump your tank is based on scum levels, you should expect to have to pump around once every three years. If you have a garbage disposal, you'll need to pump more often.

You can get away with not having much of your plumbing maintained, but the septic system is a key exception. Without regular inspections and cleanings, you could end up with a home and yard full of sewer water. If you're looking for extra room in your home's budget, you'll have to look for other services to cut. For assistance, talk to a professional like Southern Sanitary Systems Inc.