Spending Your Summer Away From Home? What Should You Do To Prepare Your Septic Tank?

Posted on: 14 April 2017

If you've made plans to spend your summer traveling away from home, you're likely excited about the new adventures and experiences your trip will bring. However, leaving your home for more than a few days (or weeks) can be a worrisome prospect, even if you don't have to worry about pets or houseplants to keep alive. For homes with a septic tank, part of the preparation for a long trip may include some septic maintenance to avoid returning to toilet troubles. Read on to learn more about what can happen to a septic tank when it goes unused for an extended period of time, as well as some of the steps you can take to prepare your septic tank before your big trip.

What happens to a septic tank when it goes unused?

Septic tanks operate as their own private biosphere, where bacteria and enzymes present within the tank feast on solid waste to reduce it to a much smaller mass. Liquids are filtered through the concrete walls of the tank into the surrounding leach field. Therefore, although your septic tank will still need to be pumped on a regular basis based on household size, tank size, and estimated usage, flushing 1,000 gallons of water (or even waste) into a 1,000 gallon septic tank won't cause it to overflow.

When your tank goes unused for an extended period of time, this biosphere may begin to break down a bit. Without the introduction of new waste (and bacteria), the current enzymes may find themselves without much to do, causing them to become less efficient at processing waste. If a septic tank is left unattended for a very long period of time, this bacteria may even die off completely, and regenerating it upon your return can take some time.

What steps should you take before your trip to ensure your septic tank will remain in good shape while you're gone?

Before you leave, you may want to have your septic tank inspected and pumped (if necessary). This process is fairly inexpensive and will ensure that you don't return to a leaking septic mess. 

If your tank was recently pumped, or if you're planning to be gone for more than a month or two, you may instead want to purchase a bacteria colony upon your return. Flushing this bacteria packet down your toilet and into your septic tank can help regenerate any bacteria that may have died while you were away, ensuring that your septic tank can continue to process waste as normal. For more information, contact companies like Kulp and Sons.

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