Four Myths About Septic Systems Busted

Posted on: 9 January 2015

Especially to those who have lived in homes connected to sewers their whole lives, septic systems may seem like a bit of a mystery. It doesn't help that there are a lot of false myths floating around about their proper use, maintenance and safety. Here's a look at four of those false myths – and the real truth behind them.

Myth #1: If you have a septic tank, you should not use your yard because it's full of contaminants from human waste.

The Truth: Unless your tank is overflowing and malfunctioning, the material it allows to leach into your yard has been broken down and is no longer dangerous. You'll know if your septic tank is overflowing because your yard will be wet and smelly. Otherwise, it is perfectly safe to play in your yard – there are no more harmful bacteria there than in any other yard.

Myth #2: You cannot use a garbage disposal if you have a septic tank.

The Truth: You can use a garbage disposal with a septic tank, but you will need to have your tank pumped more frequently (about once a year) because the food particles you rinse down the drain will accumulate in the tank. You should also minimize the amount of greasy food that you put down the disposal; too much can clog your pipes and build up at the top of the septic tank. This makes it harder for the decomposed material to leach out.

Myth #3: Septic systems last forever as long as you care for them properly.

The Truth: Even with routine maintenance, most septic tanks do eventually break down. The average steel tank lasts about 20 years, and concrete tanks tend to last about 40 years. Your septic tank technician or plumber can give you an estimate of your tank's remaining life expectancy when he or she uncovers the tank to pump it out.

Myth #4: It's cheaper to wait until there's a problem with your tank and repair it than to perform regular maintenance.

The Truth: As in most situations, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sometimes waiting until the tank overflows to have it pumped may work out in your favor – maybe all you'll need is to have the tank pumped, and it will function perfectly again. However, this is not always the case. Regular maintenance ensures that problems such as cracks in the tank or a rusted out tank are detected early when they're easier to repair, instead of later when it may become necessary to replace the whole tank.

Septic tanks are not as intimidating as they seem, but it helps to know a little bit about them. Have your tank pumped every few years, avoid flushing anything strange down the toilet, and use your garbage disposal with discretion. It's really that simple. Contact a septic company like SOS Septic Inc for more information.