Owning a home on a septic system is like inheriting a pet the day you move in. It requires regular professional care and proper maintenance to thrive, and without some understanding of how your actions affect it there can be some very unpleasant outcomes. To that end, educating yourself on what you can do to ensure the cost of owning a septic system stays down is often one of the most prudent things you can do as a rural homeowner.
Proper Feeding of Your Septic System
The most significant impact to your septic system comes from the waste you're putting in it. Septic tanks are designed to break down organic matter commonly found in waste water, and an increase in the volume of inorganic or manufactured materials going in will impede that function. Worse still, inorganic waste will take longer to break down, eventually causing the tank to fill to capacity.
Avoid using toilets as garbage cans, and use paper products which are safe for disposal in a septic system. Use a garbage disposal sparingly, if at all, and make sure it is intended for use with a septic tank. Use anti-bacterial cleaners as little as possible, and avoid using any detergents which contain phosphorous. Both agents will hinder the growth of septic bacteria in your system, reducing it's effectiveness at digesting waste products.
While it may not be necessary to have your specific system checked out annually, it will need the contents pumped on a consistent schedule. Ideally, this should be every two and a half years for a family of four using a 1000 gallon tank. Consult with the documentation for your home to identify the size of your tank.
When your septic tank contractor arrives, make sure you have them inspect your drainage field as well, to ensure that waste water is properly returning to the water table in your area. Heavy rain storms, changes in the region's watershed, or over-compacting of the soil around your drainage field can all have negative effects on this. If you notice pooling in your yard, or a bad smell coming off your lawn, these are a strong indication that your drainage field may need relocated.
Septic systems allow rural homes to function without relying on municipal waste water services, but that doesn't mean they're free. To keep the cost of owning a septic system low make sure you adjust your own behaviors, and find a septic system company willing to give you the additional education you need to adapt to your new circumstances.