The septic system at your San Jose, CA, home needs to operate properly to effectively handle your wastewater. This system works to treat and dispose of the sewage produced by your household. Regular maintenance is vital to keep the system functioning properly. Learn more about maintenance and what it takes to ensure efficient septic system operation.

Septic System Basics

There are three primary components of a septic system. The septic tank receives the solid waste and then separates it from the wastewater. There is a distribution box that takes the treated wastewater and sends it to the drain field. The drain field makes it possible for the soil to absorb the treated wastewater.

There are a few steps involved when your septic system is working properly. Household wastewater moves into the septic tank. The solid waste goes to the bottom of the tank, becoming sludge. The lighter materials move to the top of the tank and become scum.

Organic materials break down due to the anaerobic bacteria present in the tank. Clarified wastewater goes to the system’s distribution box. The clarified water flows into the drain field. Once it is in the drain field, the soil will treat and filter it, and then it returns to the groundwater.

Routine Septic System Maintenance

You need to schedule regular pumping for your septic system to routinely remove accumulated scum and sludge. How often you need this service depends on factors like water usage and your household size. A professional can give you a more accurate estimate of how often you should schedule a pumping.

To avoid overloading your system, be mindful of how much water your household is using. For example, spread out your loads of laundry and consider installing water-efficient fixtures. If a leak occurs, fix it promptly.

Be careful about what you flush into your system. Avoid flushing grease, chemicals, and non-biodegradable items. Make sure to use toilet paper that is safe for septic tanks.

Inspect the septic system components periodically. Look at the distribution box, septic tank lid, and drain field. You want to see if there is any soil settling, vegetation growth, or signs of damage.

The drain field should have a grass cover to provide protection and prevent soil erosion. Make sure that you do not plant any shrubs or trees near the drain field since deep roots could potentially infiltrate and interfere with your system.

Keep good records regarding pumping, system inspections, and any maintenance performed for your system. This will help professionals identify possible problems or patterns associated with your system.

Signs of Possible System Issues

An important part of septic system maintenance is knowing when to call for a repair. There are certain signs that generally indicate there is a problem that requires a professional to help you.

Pay attention to your showers, toilets, and sinks, and watch them drain. If your drains are moving slowly, this could mean that there is a blockage somewhere in your system.

Look at your drain field and the area around your septic tank. If you notice any water pooling, this indicates a drainage issue. The problem could be caused by system failure or a clog.

If you are around your drain field or septic tank and you smell a foul odor, this usually signifies an issue. It could occur due to a ventilation issue, a leak, or the need for septic tank pumping.

Sewage backups require immediate attention. They cause sewage to go back up into your toilets or drains. This can create a health hazard in your home.

You want healthy grass around your drain field, but it should not be abnormally green and lush. If you notice changes like this, it could be due to a saturation problem or a leak.

Professional Septic System Maintenance

Approximately every one to three years, you should set up a professional inspection of your septic system. The exact time frame will depend on things like your household size, the age of your septic system, and your overall usage.

If applicable, inspect the pump chamber to make sure that it is working properly. Should there be an issue with the pump, this could eventually result in system failure or sewage backups.

Septic systems that contain an effluent filter will require some regular maintenance on this component. A professional will inspect it to make sure that it’s in good condition. Then it will be cleaned so it continues to work effectively.

You should plan for periodic soil testing. This is necessary to make sure that your drain field is working effectively enough to handle the demands of your system. During this testing, professionals will be able to identify problems, such as reduced absorption capacity and soil compaction.

If your water usage patterns change or your household grows, you should talk to a professional about the need for possible upgrades to your system. For example, changes may include installing an effluent filter if your system does not already have one and making the drain field bigger.

Seasonal Maintenance Considerations

There are certain maintenance tasks that you should plan for each season. During the winter months, make sure that the septic tank lid and exposed pipes have sufficient insulation. While San Jose does not get too many below-freezing days, dropping temperatures are possible, so you want to be prepared. If it does get extremely cold, especially at night, reduce your water usage during this time to prevent overloading your system.

During the fall, inspect the grass cover over your drain field and remove any debris and leaves in the area. You can also schedule your professional inspection for this time so that your system is ready for the winter months.

The spring season is the ideal time to assess your system’s overall condition and to make sure that no damage occurred during the winter. General maintenance and pumping should also be tackled during this season if they are necessary.

During the summer months, be mindful about your water usage since you will likely want to water your landscape and engage in water-based activities, such as using sprinklers or setting up a pool. Make sure that you do not compact the soil that is on top of your drain field.

Septic System Troubleshooting

If you notice a problem, the best course of action is to call in a professional to ensure a prompt and proper fix. However, there are a few things that you can do to help keep your system working properly. Make sure that the drain field has a healthy grass cover. Use water more efficiently to avoid system overload. You should also take a quick look at your system every three months just to make sure that there is no visible damage or noticeable issues, such as bad odors.

Professional Plumbers in San Jose

Regularly maintaining the septic system in your San Jose home will protect your property and the environment. Our team can assist you with all of your septic system repair needs. In addition, we offer a variety of plumbing services, including sewer camera inspection, plumbing fixtures and water heaters.

Call Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter in San Jose to schedule an appointment.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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