This week’s blog written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County
The holiday season is almost over and with the onslaught of holiday guests, you and your septic system are probably ready for a break. But as we stay home to cheer on the Dawgs tomorrow, and with the NFL Playoffs and Winter Olympics coming up, your septic system* isn’t likely to get any downtime soon. An overloaded, poorly maintained septic system can ruin your holiday. Raw sewage can even back up into your home. The good news is that you can protect your family from the health hazards of raw sewage in your home in four easy steps.
It can cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace a failed septic system. About 25% of households in Athens use a septic system*. If you are not sure if you are on a septic system you can call the Health Department at 706-583-2658 or 706-583-2658 and ask them. Also, if you receive a water bill from the Public Utilities Department and it does not show a sewer charge, you should be on a septic system.
I know that the last thing you will be thinking about during the game is your septic system, unless it fails. But you can help prevent the failure of your septic system in 2014 with these four steps. All of them are easy and make great New Year’s Resolutions!
1. Know Your System
- How many gallons does it hold?
- Where are the tank and drainfield located?
- How old is yours?
- When was it last inspected and/or pumped?
If you don’t know the answer to the first three questions, contact the Clarke County Health Department’s Environmental Health Section at 706-583-2658.
You or the homeowner should know the answer to the last question. If not, it’s probably time to contact a certified plumber or septic tank service.
2. Use Water Wisely
- Don’t overload the system – Using more water than the soil can absorb leads to failure.
- Conserve water – Fix leaks and drips. Replace old fixtures with new “WaterSense” labelled types.
- Reduce the flow through the tank – This allows more time for solids to settle out.
- Limit water use during rain events – The drain field is saturated, reducing the absorption rate.
3. Toilets & Sinks Are Not Trash Cans
Septic systems treat human waste and wastewater from toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, etc…. not garbage.
- Additives and enzymes – These do not prevent the need for recommended maintenance and pumping schedules.
- Pee, Poo & (Toilet) Paper – These three ‘P’s are all that should go down the toilet.
- Garbage disposals – Their use is not recommended, as they can double the amount of solids in wastewater.
4. Regular & Preventative Maintenance is the Key
- Check every 3 – 5 years* – Protecting Your Water and Septic System is a booklet from the Georgia Home*A*Syst Program that explains how often you should inspect your system.
- Failure is not an option – Do not wait for the system to fail before pumping. By then it is usually too late and repairs are more costly.
- Certified professional – Hire only certified professionals to inspect, pump, and repair your septic system.
*A septic system is a sewage management system that includes an underground tank and drainfield. The sewage is treated right at your house, not at one of our Water Reclamation Facilities.