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Septic system maintenance tips

Everyone has an important role to play in keeping both the SA Water and Barossa Council wastewater systems working well. Sewer systems operate as an entire unit life cycle, so what goes in your sewer drains at home affects everyone.

Tips for a healthy wastewater system

For wastewater systems to function efficiently the tank needs to operate under alkaline conditions. Under normal operation the tank will be in an alkaline condition. However, the balance tanks can be compromised due to a number of reasons and therefore it's best to be prepared and avoid compromising where possible by following some of our septic system maintenance tips!

Remove odours coming from your septic system

If conditions in the tank become acidic the normal bacteria may die off which will result in offensive odours. This can be rectified by using hydrated lime which is available from hardware stores.

Steps to reduce odour

It is recommended to follow these steps to remove odour problems:

  1. mix 0.5kg of lime with 10L of water,
  2. flush mixture down the toilet 2-3 times a day, and,
  3. repeat step #2 for 3-4 days or until a total of 5kg of mixture is used.

The smell coming from the tank should subside in about a week. If odours are still present after that time more lime solution may be required.

Please note, during the first few weeks of septic system operation, you may notice some odour coming from the vents of the system. This is completely normal, and the odours should reduce once the tank has settled and the necessary bacteria is established.

Mosquito control

Mosquitos can get into your wastewater, so make sure your system's vents have mosquito-proof mesh fitted, and that inspection openings and tanks are sealed to prevent mosquito entry.

Do not flush any material down the toilet other than toilet paper

Only flush biodegradable toilet paper down the toilet, and avoid flushing items such as tissues, paper towel, sanitary napkins, tampons, flushable wipes and disposable nappies, as they will not dissolve and could clog up your septic system.

Avoid putting food scraps down the sink

All food scraps should go into your waste bin or compost system and not down the sink to avoid clogging up your septic system.

Desludge your septic tank at least every 4 years

Desludging refers to the process of removing 'sludge', scum and effluent from your septic tank by draining, pumping, and cleaning the tank.

All septic systems require a professional contractor to desludge the tank at least every 4 years. Some tanks may require desludging more frequently, dependent on the size of the tank and whether the tank is used in a domestic, industrial, or commercial setting.

Clean your wastewater outlets, but not too excessively

When cleaning your wastewater outlets, only use products labelled as 'biodegradable' or ‘safe for septic tanks’, use them in moderation, and follow directions on packaging carefully. Excessive use of cleaning chemicals can cause alkaline imbalances. Where possible, use alternative cleaners such as bicarbonate of soda, borax, and vinegar.

Avoid washing down any prohibited discharges

Prohibited discharges include any materials that is not intended to be flushed down the septic system such as:

  • stormwater from downpipes or rainwater tank overflows,
  • trade waste from commercial premises,
  • backwash waste from swimming pools and spa pools, and,
  • paint, petroleum products and other solvents, strong alkalines and acids.

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