Most people prefer not to think about their septic system until it has a serious problem. You should regularly work with a plumbing service to pump out your system and to make sure it’s functioning properly, but sometimes user error can lead to a septic disaster. Here are three ways that you may be unintentionally sabotaging your own septic system, as well as the steps you can take to increase the longevity of the system.


Nothing is worse than having to repair a frozen septic disposal system in the middle of winter. If you live in an area where the temperatures frequently drop below zero, you’ll want to be on the lookout for freezing pipes. Interestingly, deep snow can become compacted and insulate underground pipes, so frost on the ground or light snow is actually more likely to freeze your septic system. Plumbing experts recommend placing an insulating material, such as hay, over your septic system to keep it from freezing.


Having too little water in your septic system can lead to odors, but having too much water in your system (also known as hydraulic overload) can mean that waste isn’t sufficiently broken down, which leads to blockages. Using too much water, such as having big laundry days, taking long showers, or not using low-flow toilets can cause the system to fill with excess water. Using efficient appliances and not doing your family’s laundry all in one day is a good way to reduce clogged drains and backup from excess water.

Watch Pipes Carefully

The number one reason that septic disposal systems fail is because people throw in products that do not belong there, such as cat litter, feminine hygiene products, cigarettes, coffee filters, etc. Tree roots and heavy machinery outside the home can also interfere with pipes. Make sure that you’re only flushing materials that were designed to go in your septic system. In particular, make sure you’re using a separate grease disposal. If you suspect that your system is damaged from tree roots or outbuildings, it may be time to talk to a plumbing installation company about moving your pipeline.

Having a good relationship with your plumber can ensure that you always have access to expert advice. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution. There’s nothing worse than a septic emergency that has gotten out of control.

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