Maintaining Your Septic System

If you own a home in Alaska, chances are that you own a septic system. A septic system is an effective method for treating household wastewater. In addition, it is cost effective and easy to maintain. Well-built systems can last 20 years or more when properly maintained. Septic system failures are a major source of groundwater pollution. Layers of soil act as a natural filter, removing microbes and other particles as water seeps through. Improperly treated water can carry bacteria and viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, fever, common cold, respiratory infections and hepatitis. Septic system maintenance is like automobile maintenance; a little effort on a regular basis can save you a lot of money and significantly prolong the life of the system.
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Tips for Maintaining Your System

Remember, you are on a sewer system. The things you flush down the toilet don’t disappear.

What not to flush:

House Hold Items Like... Hazardous Chemicals Like...
Kitty LitterPaints
Disposable DiapersPaint Thinners
Paper TowelsMedications
Coffee GroundsPesticides
Cigarette ButtsVarnishes
Fat, Grease, OilWaste Oils

Don’t bother with additives to your tank. The cold temperatures in Alaska make adding performance enhancing additives like bacteria, yeast, or chemicals basically useless. In some cases you might harm your system or the environment with these additives. This is one of the reasons why you need to have your tank pumped more often in Alaska.

Don’t build structures or driveways over your drainfield or septic tank.

Keep the back-flush water from a water softener out of your septic system.

Divert rainwater coming from roofs and driveways, so it doesn’t end up in your drainfields. If you flood your drainfield, the extra water will stop the process of the soil naturally functioning like a filter for the wastewater. This could lead to pollution of your groundwater.

Use water sparingly. You’ll want to fix leaky faucets and toilets. You can also install low-flow devices, and/or take shorter showers. The more carefully you use your water, the more you reduce the wastewater volume your system must treat. Over saturation may affect the quality of the soil and how well it can remove toxins, bacteria, and viruses from the water.

Maintain a grass cover over your drainfield area.

Use moderation with household cleaning supplies. Your septic system is generally not affected as long as you use moderation.
Stand pipes should extend a minimum of 24” above the surface. If you have to trim them down be sure to measure and mark their location on a map of your system, so they can be located for maintenance in the future.

Have your system pumped and inspected regularly. If you let solids and sludge build up in the tank, the solids can move to your drainfield and clog the system. In this case, your may need a new drainfield.

Click here to get information about your septic system from the ADEC.
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