Wednesday, September 25, 2013

SepticSmart Week

Did you know that this week is SepticSmart Week?  Neither did I, because this is its first year ever!  The EPA has designated September 23-27 SepticSmart Week to encourage people on a septic system to take care of it.  Almost 25% of Americans are on septic systems and as of 1990, 580,836 people in Wisconsin relied on septic systems.
Septic system care is important because backed up systems can lead to waste backing up into your home or coming up into your backyard.  It can also end up in your well or in surface waters nearby.  Obviously, sewage in your home, yard, and water source is a major health concern.  Diseases can be spread from the waste and other substances that you may have used around the home and flushed or dumped down the sink (household hazardous waste) can reemerge and poison wildlife and humans.  It is also very expensive to replace your septic system outright.  Septic systems, if properly maintained, should last 20-30 years. Check out EPA's SepticSmart poster below, then read more about why their tips are important.

The first tip is very important.  Have your system inspected regularly and have it pumped when necessary.  If you don't do this, you won't catch potential problems before they occur.
The second tip, think at the sink, is something we stress often.  Dumping fats, oils, and grease (FOGs) down the drain can clog your pipes and cause malfunctions in your system.  This will be expensive to you because you will need repairs and more frequent pumping.  If the fats, oils, and grease reach the wastewater treatment plant when your system is pumped, they can cause problems here as well. Learn more about fats, oils, and grease here.  Household chemicals should also never be poured down the drain or flushed.  If they end up in your septic system, they can destroy the organisms that treat your waste.  Household hazardous wastes (HHW) can also damage plumbing. HHW should never be flushed or dumped down the drain, whether or not you have a septic system. To learn more about disposing of household hazardous wastes, check out this flyer from WLSSD. 
"Don't overload the commode" is a great tip for everyone (just like not flushing FOGS and HHW).  Don't flush things that aren't specifically meant to go down the drain.  Even kleenex shouldn't be flushed; not only because it won't break down like toilet paper, but because flushing every time you want to dispose of a kleenex wastes water.  Other items that shouldn't be flushed are listed above.  Basically, if it's not toilet paper, it shouldn't be flushed, even if it says flushable on the package.
"Shield your field" is a pretty simple tip; don't do things that could harm your drainfield. 
Finally, "don't strain your drain", another tip that's good for everyone.  Be water efficient in your home and yard.  Don't use more water than you need and purchase water efficient appliances.  For more tips on becoming water efficient in your home and yard, view our webinar here.

So there you have it: plenty of tips to keep your septic system working well.  For more information about SepticSmart Week, visit the EPA's website.

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

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