6 Septic Tank Safety Tips You Shouldn’t Ignore

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated January 13, 2022
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Don’t let your tank break the bank

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Septic tanks may seem daunting, but you can take matters into your own hands by doing the necessary research on how to best maintain your system. With a bit of knowledge and care, you can keep your tank in great condition year-round. Below are some useful septic tank safety tips to put to use next time you’re working on your tank. 

1. Work With a Friend

The Department of Health and Environment Control advises that you shouldn’t work on septic issues alone. This is a precautionary measure, since when working on septic tanks, you may be exposed to hazards such as bacteria, gasses, and electrical shock. By working with someone else, you ensure that if any accidents occur, you won’t be on your own. 

You can make a deal with a buddy—they come help you work on your septic tank, and you’ll do the same for them when they need the help. 

2. Inspect Your Septic System 

Although scheduling a septic system inspection may not be at the top of your to-do list, it’s definitely a worthwhile task. 

Malfunctioning septic tanks can cause health issues—if your tank is draining improperly, bacteria can flow into your house and pose health risks. If sewage flows into your home water, the harmful contaminants can make both people and animals sick. 

Getting regular inspections is also beneficial to your wallet, which makes this safety tip one to add to your routine. It’s usually more expensive to replace a septic tank than to get these inspections. On average, the cost to get a septic tank inspection is somewhere from $100 to $200, while the average cost of a new septic tank system is $6,420.

A good rule of thumb is that you should schedule inspections every three to five years. 

A professional septic technician will be able to determine if the system is sufficiently clean and look for any signs of damage or major issues, such as water pooling by the drainfield, gurgling sounds, and algae growth. 

3. Schedule Regular Septic Pumping

Worker pumping septic tank
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It’s okay if septic pumping sounds entirely foreign—it’s actually pretty simple. Septic pumping is just a key part of septic tank maintenance. When you pump your tank, you take out the sludge that has built up. This is an important process because it eliminates the issue of sludge blocking the outlet pipe (which drains liquids). 

You should aim to get your septic tank pumped roughly every three to five years, but it’ll depend on how much water you use, and your home’s occupancy. 

This isn’t a task to ignore—neglecting to get your septic tank pumped can result in sewage flowing into your home and posing health risks. 

4. Watch Out for Odors

This septic tank safety tip is easy enough to put into action: Take note of odors. If you’re noticing a foul odor coming from your septic tank, this may be a red flag. A stinky septic tank often means that something inside the tank isn’t functioning properly. Other causes of an odor coming from your septic tank include blocked vents, clogged drains, and a broken pump.  

Some of these issues you’ll be able to fix yourself, but if you’re not confident in the issue or your ability to solve the problem, contact a septic tank professional who can help diagnose and solve the problem. 

5. Limit Garbage Disposal Use

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One way you can better maintain your septic tank is by reducing or eliminating garbage disposal use. Garbage disposals increase the amount of substances that build up in the septic tank. As a result, the tank can become clogged when too many fats, greases, and solids accumulate. 

If you do choose to use a garbage disposal, consider getting your septic tank pumped more frequently to avoid malfunctions.  

6. Avoid Flames Near a Septic Tank

The last septic tank safety tip on our list is a crucial one. Since your septic tank produces methane gas as a byproduct—which is highly explosive—it’s important to keep open flames away from the tank. 

To protect your safety and health, you should probably avoid having smoke near even a closed septic tank, since a single flame can easily cause an explosive reaction.

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