How to Prevent Septic System Mishaps

Just because you have a septic system doesn’t mean you need to be an expert on it. But the real septic experts wish you knew at least a few things. And not just for their sake, but for yours. A little knowledge can go a long way toward preventing massively expensive (and massively gross) issues down the line.

5 Things to Know So Your Septic System Won't Destroy Your Yard

1. Know how your system works (please)

“What you have in your backyard is your very own water disposal plant,” says Kim Seipp, who owns High Plans Sanitation Service, in Strasburg, CO, with her husband. “When you live in the city, [your waste] goes away and you don’t think about it. It goes to a municipal plant and all kinds of great things happen to it. With a septic system, all that happens in your backyard.”

To give you the basics, everything that goes into your tank naturally separates into three layers.

“Anything heavier than water goes to the bottom, anything lighter goes to the top, and there’s a nice, clear liquid in between,” says Seipp.

Over time, of course, the sludge at the bottom “gets thicker and thicker,” Seipp says.

And that’s why you need a good inspection—and pumping—every now and then.

“It’s like changing the oil in your car. You just have to do it,” Seipp says.

2. You can't put anything you want down your toilet—or garbage disposal

Correction: You can, but it’s not a wise idea.

Everything that goes down your toilets, as well as your shower and sink drains, makes its way into your septic tank. If it can’t physically travel through the pipes, you’ll have a major clog on your hands.