Country Living - Septic Systems
Rural life is great and comes with a number of benefits, but it's important to be aware of several aspects in order to properly care for and maintain your home.
Many people have the same dream: A nice, quiet life in the country. Avoiding the rush of the city and just enjoying nature (bonus points if you were picturing yourself in a rocking chair).
Unfortunately for some, when they start thinking about making the move to a rural property, they hear things like “septic” and “well” and begin to feel a little uneasy about the whole idea. It’s not uncommon. When confronted with things that we’re not familiar with, we tend to do our best to avoid them. But that’s where I come in! I grew up, and currently live, on a horse farm. I’m quite familiar with life in the country and I’ll share some information with you about septic systems to show you that they’re not something to be feared. I’ll save wells for another blog.
“The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” (This usually isn't a good thing)
If you live in the city, you may not be familiar with septic systems, but they’re a very common and effective way to dispose of household sewage and wastewater. This system, unlike city sewers, requires the homeowner to maintain it or even repair or replace it if necessary. There are five different classes of septic systems, but the most common, and the one we’ll be discussing, is a Class 4 septic system which uses a septic tank and leaching bed.
The way it works is that wastewater from toilets, sinks, showers and appliances, leaves the home through a sewer pipe and flows into the septic tank. Heavy solids then settle to the bottom, while light materials such as fats, oils and grease float to the top and add to the scum layer. The remaining wastewater, also known as effluent, flows out of the septic tank and into the leaching bed where it seeps into the ground and is further processed by bacteria and other organisms.
When properly maintained, septic systems can last for decades. An important part of this maintenance is having the tank inspected and pumped on a regular basis. There’s no exact definition of a regular basis since it depends on the size of the tank and the number of occupants. Most people I know go with every 2-3 years. Smaller tanks and more occupants will, of course, mean more regular pumping. It’s also recommended that you have your effluent filter checked and cleaned every year.
Another thing to be aware of is which substances should and shouldn’t go down the drain. Septic tanks are only designed to hold waste, water and toilet paper. Even certain medications can cause issues for septic systems if flushed as they can kill beneficial bacteria. For a list of septic do’s and don’ts, check out the following link (link to a document on our website).
If a problem does arise, such as a clog or a leak in the system, there are certain signs that can tip you off. One obvious sign is the smell. If you can smell that something is off with your septic system, either in the home or outside, it’s time to get your tank pumped/inspected. Other signs are slow drains, swampy areas of the lawn or an excessively lush and green area. They say the grass is always greener on the other side...but that’s just because your neighbours need to get their tank pumped out. So if they say their lawn is better than yours, you can tell them they’re full of $#*!
As a homeowner who is well versed in septic systems and knows they need to be regularly checked and maintained, you’re not as likely to run into problems. Properly cared for, it can last for several decades and you can enjoy a headache free life in the country.