Septic System Repair Myths

Septic systems are cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and an ideal option for those who don’t have access to—or want—to hook into their local sewer system. Originally developed in France around 1860, the septic tank came to the United States in the 1880s. Even with more than 130 years in the country, and more than 21 million households using septic systems, there are still many misconceptions and myths about maintaining and repairing septic systems.


Myth #1:

Once installed, septic systems will last forever with little to no intervention.


Septic systems have an extremely long lifespan—20 to 30 years, on average, if well-maintained—but will not last forever. However, to reach the 20 to 30 years, homeowners need to pay attention to their system’s health, as well as provide routine maintenance for the system, including timely repairs, regular cleaning and pumping, and taking preventative measures to keep the system working properly.

Myth #2:

Septic systems never get blocked or clogged.


Homeowners should take care to only flush biodegradable materials. Any solids that don’t break down easily, including hygiene product or food scraps and waste, should be thrown out—not flushed into the septic tank. These items not only can cause blockages in the system and pipes, but can contribute to a premature filling of the system.

Myth #3:

If there is a blockage, I can just use some chemicals to get it to dissolve.


Additives are not recommended for septic systems for a variety of reasons. First, there are very few that will break down the substance, causing the blockage with the recommended dosage. Adding more chemicals or other remedies might not help break the blockage, but it will certainly throw off the balance of bacteria in the tank, and will keep the system from operating properly. The delicate nature of the system can be easily thrown off with anything that changes the bacteria levels—including the water being too high or too many chemicals being added. The only sure way to dissolve a blockage is to call a professional.

Myth #4:

I don’t need to worry about the drain field—since they are natural, nothing can go wrong.


The drain field is where the processed waste soaks into the ground. If you notice your drains, toilet, or other plumbing systems are backing up, overflowing or making strange noises, if you begin to smell an unpleasant odor, or if you notice a change in the soil or grass near the drainfield, it’s important to call a professional. The problems could stem from a number of different situations—the tank may need to be pumped, the field may not be deep enough, or there might be a problem with your plumbing system.

Myth #5:

Since I am only flushing appropriate waste into my septic system, I don’t need to worry about repairs—the bacteria will take care of itself and the system will be fine.


Even with the best prevention, septic tanks should be pumped every one to three years. Bacteria is only effective at breaking down about half of the material and waste in the tank. This build-up can lead to serious problems if left alone.

Tips and Tricks for Septic System Success

While a septic system failure can be a serious situation that can affect the residents of the home, neighbors, and the community’s water and waste system, with proper care and maintenance, a failure is highly unlikely. Getting repairs treated promptly and teaching family members how to take care of the system are vital for the system’s overall health and operation.

  • Know what can be flushed. Household chemicals like paint thinners, cleaners, and even bleach can cause serious damage to the bacteria levels in the tank. In addition, hygiene items, food scraps, and even thick toilet paper are hard to dissolve pieces that can cause blockages and damage the septic system.
  • Regularly monitor the area around your tank. Know what your system looks like when it’s operating perfectly so that you can call professionals at the first sign of a change.
  • Get on a regular pumping and cleaning schedule. Keeping your tank clean and emptied of sludge and slurry will help to extend the life of your septic system.

When you’re looking for a professional to repair your septic system, look for someone with experience. Paradise Septic has been repairing, installing, and pumping septic systems in the greater Paradise Valley area since 1958. Contact us today to come out for an inspection and make sure your system is facing a long, healthy life.

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