Septic systems require routine maintenance

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

Many homeowners may not know that they are responsible for maintaining their septic system. Septic tanks should be inspected and pumped out periodically. Maintaining the system protects their investment in their home.

It’s important for residents in areas without access to public sewer systems to know how to maintain their own septic systems. Proper care saves property owners money as well as protecting health and the environment, said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) website.

A septic system has three parts: household plumbing, a tank to collect sewage and solids, and a soil treatment area. All three parts must be working to provide effective sewage treatment.

“Recommended maintenance includes pumping and cleaning the tank at least once every three years,” said Bre Briggle of Fiedler’s Your Pumping Specialists of Royalton.

There are also some basic things to avoid.

“Do not flush wipes of any kind, even if the packages says ‘septic safe,’” said Briggle. “We also recommend minimal to zero use of garbage disposals.”

Most of the calls coming into Fiedler’s during the winter involve frozen pipes or frozen roof vents. Fiedler’s does not handle thawing or steaming of pipes.

“We have a lot of requests to have tanks pumped because it really smells in someone’s house,” Briggle said. “That usually means the roof (sewer) vent froze. Ours has frozen six times already this winter. We just pour hot water down the pipe.”

The majority of service calls in spring and summer have to do with lift pumps or floats that go out, said Briggle.

Tree roots in the tank can cause blockages.

“Trees are not recommended anywhere near septic systems,” Briggle said.

Since local ordinances may differ from state code, always check with the township, city and/or county government to find out the requirements in the area.