The average lifespan of a septic system depends on several factors, including the type of system, whether it is maintained on a regular basis, soil and weather conditions, and even the number of people living in the home.
Most septic systems can be expected to last between 15 and 30 years with regular care and maintenance. (Concrete septic tanks are an exception in that they have a much longer lifespan and can last for 40 years or even longer.)
Given that the life expectancy of a septic tank means that homeowners could be faced with a replacement at some point, extending the septic system lifespan should be a priority.
Tips for Maximizing Your Septic System’s Life
While some factors affecting how long a septic system will remain functional are outside your control as a homeowner, there are other things that can be done to extend the life of your septic system. Here are some tips for helping to ensure that your septic system has as long a life as possible.
A septic inspection should be done periodically to ensure that all components are in working order and that there are no small problems that could result in bigger issues down the road.
During an inspection, a professional provider of septic services will look for issues in the drainfield or the pipes, and should perform a septic tank inspection. They may be able to provide a rough estimate of the remaining septic tank lifespan so that homeowners can prepare for the eventuality of a septic tank replacement.
Regular Cleaning and Pumping of the Septic Tank
Over time, septic tanks can accumulate sludge that needs to be removed so that the system continues to function properly. Depending on the size of the system, the number of people in the home, and usage factors, septic tanks should be pumped every two to five years.
Being Mindful about What Goes into the Septic System
Residential septic systems are designed to process wastewater and toilet paper – and only wastewater and toilet paper! Homeowners who want to extend the life of their septic system should be aware of what things can cause harm to the components of their septic system and thus decrease its expected lifespan. Here are a few tips from septic professionals for caring for your home’s septic system:
- Do not flush any solid material other than waste and toilet paper. Beyond the obvious things that might fall in accidentally, the prohibition against flushing includes paper towels, wipes, feminine hygiene products, and diapers. It also includes cat litter, coffee grounds, or cigarette butts.
- Do not dump medications down the drain, since they can wreak havoc on the bacteria in the septic tank that help process the waste. Check local statutes for how and where to properly dispose of medications if you are not sure.
- Avoid overusing the system. The septic system in your home is designed based on the size of the home and the expected number of residents. Having guests occasionally should not be a problem, but adding several additional permanent residents can cause strain on the system that could eventually lead to septic system failure.
- Be cautious about using large quantities of antibacterial soaps or cleaning products, since these can kill septic tank bacteria. Likewise, be judicious in the use of bleach.
- Avoid using too much water at once. Rather than doing all the home’s laundry on a single day of the week, try to spread the chore out to avoid overloading the system with water.
- Limit water usage in the home where possible. Consider purchasing new appliances like clothes washers that use less water. Low-flow toilets can save a surprising amount of water, which means less water that needs to be processed through the septic system. Low-flow showers and faucets can likewise help conserve water.
- Be aware of the location of all the components of the septic system. Do not park or even drive over drainfields, and keep trees and other plants with long, potentially damaging roots away from the septic tank and the drainfield.
- Most septic professionals – and the Environmental Protection Agency – advise homeowners that they should not be using additives in their septic system.
Resolving Septic System Issues Promptly
Another important way that homeowners can extend the life of their septic system is to ensure that any issues are resolved quickly by an experienced septic system professional. Septic systems may seem simple, but they are actually a delicately balanced ecosystem in which it is critical that all components function properly.
Homeowners often have a desire to overlook septic system issues because they do not want to deal with them. Ignoring septic issues rarely leads to a good outcome, however, since many septic problems are unlikely to resolve themselves, and postponing repairs can make them more difficult and costly.
If you experience any of the issues below, you should seek guidance from a septic professional if you hope to avoid problems that limit your septic system’s lifespan:
- Foul odors, either inside the home or outdoors. This can be a sign of a clogged pipe, a septic tank that needs to be pumped, or drainfield issues.
- Sinks, tubs, or showers that do not drain or drain slowly. If mechanical attempts like a plunger do not solve the issue of slow drains, there may be more complicated issues.
- Unusual growth near the septic tank or the drainfield. These can indicate a broken tank, leaking pipes, or a drainfield that has reached its capacity for processing the wastewater.
- Gurgling noises from pipes can suggest an impending problem, since the noises could reflect air being released from water trapped inside.
- Septic alarms should always be addressed immediately. The alarms serve the purpose of alerting homeowners when there is an issue and should never be ignored.
No one wants to deal with septic system problems, but neglecting them can lead to not only costly septic repairs, but can also result in damage to your home, your yard, and even neighboring properties. Untreated wastewater can pollute nearby sources of water. Unresolved septic system problems can lead to fines from governmental agencies and even lawsuits.
Ultimately, a septic system problem that is left untreated could result in the need for a complete septic system replacement. In addition to being inconvenient, replacing a septic system is a significant expense. Prolonging the life of your septic system is a small price to pay relative to a septic system replacement.
Septic Systems and Drainfields in and Near Lakeland
If you want to extend the life of your septic system, contact Septic and Drainfield Depot to discuss your specific septic system needs and to get recommendations for how to take care of it. Septic and Drainfield Depot’s trained professionals have been servicing the septic system needs of homeowners in and near Lakeland for years. Our knowledgeable septic experts will make sure any problems or potential problems are identified properly and fixed effectively the first time.
We offer regular septic inspections, real estate septic system inspections, septic tank cleaning and pumping, and installation.
We maintain and install both residential and commercial septic systems. For emergency situations, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We offer free consultations and estimates.