WAIT. SEPTIC SYSTEMS HAVE ALARMS?
Septic Alarms are something that are installed onto the unit of a septic tank. The purpose of an alarm is to let the owner know that, HEY! SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT and I need to be checked. An alarm system can give you a warning when the water level in the pump tank is rising more than it should be or even if the levels are too low.
Oh my goodness – my alarm is going off! What do I do?
First of all… relax. Just because your alarm is going off does not mean that your entire system is about to break! It does mean, however, to take a breather. That’s right! Put those pesky chores like laundry or dishes on hold for a bit. There is a good chance that you just need to wait until the water level goes down a bit, and the problem will correct itself. But, what is something else that I can do to help this situation?
As simple as it sounds, space out your water usage! To put it into perspective, most residential systems are designed to treat 240-360 gallons per day (GPD). If you space OUT your usage over the day, this will allow your drain field to NOT go into overload. Its also important to know: septic systems are on timers. This makes it to where the pump doesn’t run all the time, which is good news for you & your electrical bill. BUT… if it has rained a lot or if you have used a lot of water recently, your system may be overfilled.
What else can I do to help my system?
First and foremost, don’t let your alarm go off regularly. I mean, an alarm going off isn’t a big deal, right? Initially, no- it is just a warning system. BUT… just like with a check-engine light on your vehicle, a septic alarm is signifying that something isn’t right. If it keeps going off, you run the risk of seriously damaging your system and needing it to be pumped before the typical 3-5 year mark.
So here are some basic tips if you’re dealing with a water alarm:
- Space out large laundry loads…Who wants to do laundry anyway? A typical load uses approximately 50 gallons of water (that’s about 20% of your daily allotted usage!). So, if you’re doing a lot of laundry this can fill up your septic tank MUCH faster than intended.
- No dishes!!! Wait – What? That’s right! No one likes doing the dishes anyway, so take this opportunity to go visit your favorite restaurant, or at least move to disposable plates and utensils for a couple of meals. This temporary switch can make a big difference when it comes to alleviating strain on your septic system.
- Spread out showers and baths for awhile! Spreading out shower usage can make a HUGE difference in a short amount of time. This will allow your treated water to drain in a more consistent way, and not overload the system all at once.
The bottom line is, if you can help your system by regulating your water usage for a short period of time, you will help it naturally level itself out. Now, regulating water usage won’t won’t solve everything, but chances are, your system WILL be able to right itself out if you give it a bit of a break.