Expertise, Integrity, Discretion
Jessica Million
Courtier immobilier agréé / Chartered Real Estate Broker

How Well Do You Know Your Septic System?

I know a septic system is not something you would like to “get up close and friendly with”, but it is a very important part of a rural property. The septic system is too often misunderstood by many homeowners and many times, when asked what type of system they have and where is it located, people often don't know. This is
not good! Like every part of an immoveable, a septic system has a certain lifespan, on average a maximum of 25 years, although a properly maintained system could out-live that and be functional for a lot longer.

It is important to learn how to maintain it to keep it functioning properly. Most common types have a holding tank made of concrete for the solid waste although some older ones are made of metal, and all are linked to a drainage field. Properties with challenges like a too-steep lot or not enough space may need a more expensive Ecoflo-type system. The liquid or grey water passes from the tank into the drainage field and eventually filters away into the surrounding soil. The tank needs to emptied regularly (every 2 years for full-time residents and 4 years for part-time). It is very important to use biodegradable products and to avoid putting anything down the drain that does not break down quickly. On the other hand, flushing an aid to increase the development of micro-organisms such as Septo-Bac can help the decomposition process.

The area around the field must be free of excess growth of trees because they keep the light out and create humidity through lack of sufficient air circulation. The area needs to be mowed to keep the grass (or weeds) short and their roots short as well. If a field becomes saturated it no longer properly filters the grey water and can back up into the tank and possibly the pipes to the house. At that point the system will no longer function and will need to be changed.

October is a good time to do some closing up in the gardens and some odd jobs outside to get the property ready for winter. It is a good time to have the chimney sweep come by to help protect your home from a chimney fire, and to stock up on firewood. Make sure mou get your snow tires installed before that first big blizzard, and that you have your snow removal contract signed!

Main Street Newspaper / October 2011

Credit: Éric Brunet, Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre, University of Guelph