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Septic Systems: What You Need to Know


Do you have a septic system at your home? If so, you might be wondering about how to keep it in good working order. In this article, we will discuss septic system types and maintenance, along with how to avoid costly replacements and repair costs.

The three most common types

There are three main types of septic systems:

  • Gravity systems,
  • Pressure systems, and
  • Mound systems.

Gravity Septic SystemA gravity (conventional) system is the most basic and the most common type.  Wastewater flows from your house into a tank and then into a drain field. Gravity systems use gravity to move wastewater from tanks to drain fields, whereas pressure systems use pumps to move the wastewater to the drain field located at a higher elevation than the tanks. A mound system can be either gravity or pressure based and is used when the soil isn’t suitable for a drain field.  It involves building a raised area to contain the tank and drain field.

Maintaining your system

To maintain your septic system and avoid costly repairs or replacements, you should regularly check the tank and drain field for any signs of damage or leaks. Surfacing wastewater in your yard is a clear indication of failure.  It’s also a level 5 biohazard.  If you have kids or pets that play in the yard, you need to get this taken care of immediately.


  • Pump it regularly.  2 to 3 years is recommended depending on the size of the household and usage.  Expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $400.  Avoid using franchises or national chains; their business model is to upsell you on all kinds of non-essentials.  Mom and Pop shops are the way to go.Septic Tank Pumping
  • Clean the filter every 6 months.  A clogged filter is a regular thing and results in backups into the home.  It’s found in the outlet of the septic tank.  Open it up, take it out, hose it off, and reinstall it.
  • Use the right toilet paper.  In the realm of ultimate life decisions, few put much thought into their preferred TP.  Check out this video from Drain Help showcasing the best TP for your comfort and septic.Septic Safe Toilet Paper


Another important aspect of septic system maintenance is to avoid the following.

  • Flushing non-biodegradable items:
    • Flushable wipes.  Sure they say “flushable”… because, well, you can certainly flush them down the toilet.  But after that, they just sit in your tank and never break down.  It’s pure marketing hype.Flushable Wipes are bad
    • Feminine products.  Ladies, we know it’s gross, but do not put these down your toilet.  My wife has a specific wastebasket with a lid for these.
  • Dumping cooking grease.  Have you heard of “fatbergs“?  Cooking grease doesn’t just go away.  It lines and clogs the inner walls of your drain pipes and also disrupts the biology in your septic tank.Fatberg
  • Poisoning the biome.  The heart of the septic system is the anaerobic or aerobic biome (depending on the system).  The microbes within are responsible for breaking down the waste.  Avoid dumping:
    • Paint
    • Harsh chemicals (bleach, ammonia, etc.)
    • Septic Additives.  A properly maintained system has no need for off-the-shelf additives or treatments.  Most times these products do more harm than good.
  • Overloading the system.  Conserving water can also help reduce the amount of wastewater your system has to process.  Taking a 45-minute shower and running multiple back-to-back loads of laundry in a day should be avoided.

Repairs and potential replacement costs

When it comes to septic system repairs or replacements, the costs can vary greatly depending on the type of system you have and the extent of the repairs needed. A simple repair might only cost a few hundred dollars, moderate repairs can be several thousand dollars upwards of $5000 or more, while a complete replacement of a septic system can cost tens of thousands of dollars, ranging anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000.

In conclusion, knowing about septic system maintenance and types is essential. By becoming a septic system maintenance pro and taking care of your system now, you can prevent more costly problems in the future.  For more information, reference the EPA’s article How to Care for Your Septic System.

Get your system inspected!

Has it been a while since you even thought about your septic system?  Are you curious as to what condition it’s in?  Give Realm Inspections a call.  We will come out and inspect the system for you.  Schedule today Schedule Now!  Its advised to have your system inspected once every 4 to 5 years.


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