If you're new to rural living, your home's septic system may seem like a bit of a mystery. You may have heard of incidents in which neighbors' tanks have backed up or overflowed. While septic systems can break and malfunction like any other component of your home, you can prevent most of these mishaps by following four basic rules of septic system care.

Rule #1: Don't Flush Anything That Won't Break Down Quickly

Your septic tank collects all of the waste and wastewater from your toilets and drains. The liquids leech out of the tank and into the surrounding soil rather quickly, and the solids settle to the bottom of the tank where they break down into smaller bits capable of being washed out with the liquid. If you flush items that don't break down quickly, they'll just linger at the bottom of the tank, taking up space and making an overflow more likely.
Make sure the only three things you and your family members flush down the toilet are urine, solid waste, and toilet paper. Wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, and even facial tissue take too long to break down and should be disposed of in the trash can instead.

Rule #2: Use the Garbage Disposal Judiciously

The food particles that go through the garbage disposal build up in the septic tank and take a long time to break down. It's really best not to use a garbage disposal at all when you have a septic tank.
However, if your home is already equipped with one and you are set on making use of it, try to do so in moderation. Never put a large amount of food down the disposal, and do not grind anything that's not a biodegradable food product.

Rule #3: Have the Tank Pumped Early and Often

Many homeowners wait until they start experiencing issues with their septic tank to have it pumped, but by this point, the tank has been in need of pumping for a while. Pumping removes the solid waste at the bottom of the tank that hasn't broken down, making more room for waste and water.

The ideal frequency of pumping depends on how large your tank is, how many people live in your home, and whether you have and use a garbage disposal. A good starting point is to have your tank pumped every four years if you have a family of four using a 1,500-gallon tank.

If you use a garbage disposal, have the tank pumped every two years. The first time you have your tank pumped, your plumber can give you a more precise estimate of how often you'll need the tank pumped based on your unique situation.

Rule #4: Conserve Water

Assuming your tank is the proper size for your home and the number of occupants, there's no reason to restrict yourself to two-minute showers or re-use your wash water. However, you do need to remember that your septic tank has a limited capacity and that exceeding this capacity may cause wastewater to overflow into your yard.

When friends and relatives come to stay overnight, try to space your showers out throughout the day rather than taking them all at once. Also, try to curtail your water use when there has been a lot of rain and the ground outside is saturated. Wet soil prevents the tank from draining as quickly as it otherwise would, and backups are more likely in this situation.

If it has been a while since your tank has been pumped, or if you're not sure when your tank was last pumped, schedule an appointment with C.B. Lucas today. Our skilled technicians can give you more personalized advice to ensure your septic system keeps functioning at its best.