How Plumbers Fix Fixtures and Fix Leaks

Topeka Plumber installs and repairs piping systems that carry water, waste, and gas in residential and commercial settings. They also work on plumbing fixtures and appliances like sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. Plumbers often use specialized tools and equipment to diagnose and fix issues with clogs, leaks, and damaged components.


Plumbers collaborate with other professionals, such as architects and construction teams, to ensure that plumbing is seamlessly integrated into building projects. They must also be knowledgeable about local codes and regulations.

The faucet handle controls the flow of water in a household sink. The handle can be turned in several cylindrical directions to control water temperature and pressure. The handle is attached to a cartridge valve that opens and closes when the handle is turned on or off. The valve is also equipped with a lever that can be moved from one position to another. In this way, different water temperatures can be set for various purposes, such as bathing and cooking.

Most faucets are designed with a single handle for hot and cold water. The handle is mounted on top of the spout or on either side of it if there are additional sink holes. Some older faucets may have two handles that control both the hot and cold water. A leaking faucet handle is often caused by mineral buildup, but it can also be due to incorrect installation or worn parts. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to repair a leaky faucet handle with the right tools and supplies.

First, turn off the water supply to the sink by closing the shut-off valves located under the sink. Afterwards, make sure that the drain is completely closed to prevent screws and other small parts from falling down the drain and getting lost forever.

Next, examine the faucet handle to determine what kind of cartridge it uses. You should be able to tell by looking at the back of the handle for a set screw or decorative cap (also called an escutcheon). If there’s a screw on the back of the handle, use a flat head screwdriver to remove it. Otherwise, look for a plastic button or disc that snaps out and exposes a screw. If there isn’t a screw, you may be able to unscrew the handle with your fingers.

After removing the handle, inspect it for damage or corrosion and clean it using vinegar or a suitable substitute. Soak the handle for several hours to loosen any deposits and allow it to dry before reinstalling it. Depending on the model of your faucet, you may need to install a new O-ring or seal. Before reinstalling the handle, it’s important that it sits perfectly straight on the cartridge valve. This can be done by lifting it up slightly and turning it in the correct direction.

Faucet Seat

The faucet seat sits inside the faucet, a watertight seal that keeps the cylinder from leaking when you turn off the water. But the washer that pushes the seat can get worn down and create a leak. To solve this problem, you need to polish the brass so it provides a more uniform and effective seal. This is a simple task, but you need to have the right tool. The best option is a valve seat dresser, which you can pick up at your local hardware store for about ten bucks.

This tool has a combination of square and hex heads that fit most faucet seats, and it works by rotating it on the seat to smooth out any imperfections. When used correctly, it can eliminate a drip in seconds. Just be careful not to overdo it — the soft brass can get damaged if you grind too much.

If you have a single-handle faucet that leaks at the spigot or handles, replacing the washer or faucet seat should fix the problem. Before making any repairs, make sure the water supply is turned off. First, loosen the handle set screw with a spanner wrench (hex end) or pliers and remove the handle. Next, unscrew the adjusting ring with a spanner wrench and turn it counterclockwise to remove the cap (square end). Apply penetrating oil to the threads before trying to remove the cap.

You can buy replacement washers and seats at any home improvement center. You can also find kits with both the springs and seats for a cheaper solution. Install the new washers and seats, following the manufacturer’s instructions. You will need to re-tighten the adjusting ring when you are done.

If you have a cartridge-type faucet, the valve seat is not replaceable, but you can still repair it. The key is to use a valve seat dresser to smooth out the surface so the washer can cling more securely to it when it closes. To do this, insert the tool as described above and twist back and forth until you can feel the brass is polished. This will make a more even and secure seal that should last longer than a fixed washer.

Faucet Cylinder

Cartridge faucets are commercial-grade types that control both temperature and flow. They’re popular in facilities that use a lot of water, because they prevent cross-flow and help avoid costly leaks. Like other parts of a faucet, they can break or wear out over time and need replacement. Replacing a cartridge requires shutting off the water supply (usually with valves under sink that turn clockwise to stop water flow). Then, you remove and replace the handle and assemble the cartridge, replacing any worn parts.

Start by placing a sink basket strainer in the drain to catch any falling parts. Next, put a towel down to protect your countertops and sink surface from water drips as you work. You may want to wear rubber gloves for this part of the job, as well. If your faucet has a decorative cap, pry off the screw with a small flathead screwdriver. Then, loosen the handle screw with a Phillips screwdriver and pull the handle off.

You’ll need to remove the spout nut and faucet retaining nut from the faucet body, which may require using a wrench. You’ll also need to remove the spout cap and set it aside. You’ll need to clean any mineral deposit buildup from these components as well, or your new cartridge will leak. If there’s a cartridge retainer clip, remove it with needle-nose pliers or slip-joint pliers. If the cartridge has a spanner cap, you’ll need to grip it with pliers and twist to remove it. Some kits contain special cartridge-pulling wrenches, which you can purchase at hardware stores and home centers.

If your faucet has a valve seat, you’ll need to inspect it for pitting or other damage. You’ll also need to replace the washer if there is one, as well as the o-ring if it’s worn out or cracked. Make sure to coat any new O-rings with plumber’s grease, as this helps ensure they won’t leak in the future.

Some cartridges have a U-shaped clip that needs to be removed before you can remove the cartridge. This clips around two plastic tabs on the cartridge body, so note its precise orientation when you remove it so that you can reinstall it the same way.

Faucet Supply Lines

Supply lines carry hot and cold water to sinks, tubs and showers. They are usually copper, but can be PVC, PEX or CPVC as well. They are normally hidden behind wall tiles or behind the cabinet under a sink. Occasionally, these supply lines can develop leaks. In such cases, plumbers remove the old supply line and install a new one. This is a plumbing repair that many homeowners feel comfortable undertaking themselves, but it is important to understand the basics of faucet supply lines so you can do the job correctly.

Faucet supply lines come in different sizes to accommodate various taps and the existing plumbing within a home or business. They also feature a variety of connection types and materials, such as FIP (female) hex nut connectors or compression valves. When installing a new supply line, it is important to choose the correct size for both the tap and the shut-off valve. Incorrect sizing can result in an improper connection that could cause leaks.

When replacing the supply line on a sink, it is best to remove any items that are stored under the sink so you can get to work without tripping over anything. Clear the workspace and put down a towel to catch any water that may drip during the process. Once the workspace is clear, turn off the water at the shut-off valve under the sink. Make sure you have a shut-off valve for both the hot and cold water lines.

If your old supply line has a corroded or damaged tailpiece, you will need to replace it. Some faucets come with factory-attached soft-copper tubes that are easy to attach. These are not as flexible as the braided supply tubes, however, so they may need to be shaped before connecting them to the faucet’s tailpiece.

Most faucets have a 1/2-inch connector, but you will need to match this size with the size of the existing connections on your building’s water pipes. If you are unsure of the size of the existing connector, you can contact your plumbing professional or refer to your faucet’s instruction manual for details. When connecting the new supply line to the faucet, use plumber’s tape around the threads. Wrap it at least five or six times to ensure a tight, leak-free connection. Once you connect the new supply line, hand-tighten it first and then use a wrench to give it a final snug fit.

Keeping Your Drains Clean and Preventing Plumbing Problems

Plumbing is the network of pipes that delivers potable water and removes waste from homes and businesses. Local and state authorities regulate it for public health and safety.


Blocked drains can cause flooding, structural damage to homes and unpleasant odors. To prevent this, regular maintenance and cleaning is required. Visit for more information.

Keeping your drains clean is one of the best things you can do to prevent clogs and other plumbing problems. This can be achieved by avoiding putting down the drain such items as cooking grease, coffee grounds, and cigarette butts. Instead, save grease for later by pouring it into a can and throwing it in the trash. Throw away coffee grounds, and put your hair trimmings in the garbage (or use them in a garden). Finally, never pour chemical drain cleaners down your drains; they can damage your pipes.

To keep your drains flowing smoothly, try a natural drain cleaner like vinegar or baking soda. Vinegar is nature’s organic solvent and can help dissolve the fats and oils that build up in your pipes. Baking soda is another natural clog fighter that can be used on its own or with salt to clear minor clogs. To use it, drop a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of hot or boiling water. The resulting fizzing indicates that the drain is cleaning itself. Be sure to flush the drain with a large amount of water afterward. This is especially important after using chemical cleaners. The hot water will help melt any remaining clog material.

Ongoing Drain Cleaning Maintenance

Having the right equipment to keep drains clean helps technicians prevent the need for emergency plumbing repairs. This includes a wide range of tools that can break up and dissolve clogs, as well as powerful equipment to flush the pipes. For example, many maintenance and engineering managers will specify hydro-jetters, which use motors to place water under extreme pressure. The high-velocity forward-facing jets clear the pipeline, while the backward-facing jets scour the inside of the pipe and remove virtually any kind of buildup.

Other tools for maintaining drains include flexible manual snakes with thousands of small hooks to grab and pull out soft clogs such as paper, hair and sanitary products. These and other mechanical tools can reduce the need for chemical treatments, which are toxic and irritate skin, eyes and respiratory systems.

When regular drain cleaning is performed, the risk of sewage backups is substantially reduced. Standing water in a drain line creates a breeding ground for mold, mildew and bacteria that can irritate health issues. In addition, it can also cause structural damage to the walls and floors of a home or building.

A homeowner can make drain cleaning a routine with a few simple steps. For instance, a homeowner can run a pot of boiling hot water down the drain at least once each week to melt away grease and debris. Another way to improve drain performance is by applying a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or an organic-type drain cleaner regularly. These types of products are much safer and less expensive than caustic chemicals, which corrode aluminum, copper and cast iron drains and traps and can leak into kitchen and bathroom faucets.

For those with serious clogs that don’t respond to simple fixes, the best course of action is to call in a professional plumber to perform a thorough drain cleaning. These professionals have the tools and experience to remove even the most stubborn clogs. They also can inspect the condition of a drain line to see if it is in need of repair or replacement. This type of proactive approach saves money, prevents the need for emergency repairs and extends the life of the plumbing system.

Clog-Free Drains

The best way to avoid drain clogs is with routine cleaning. However, if you have a serious clog or persistent smelly drains, it’s time to call a plumber. Persistent or recurring clogs may indicate that there is an issue deeper within the pipes, which requires professional help to resolve.

Kitchen and bathroom drains see a lot of soap scum, food waste, hair, toothpaste, and other drain-clogging materials on a daily basis. That’s why it’s so important to have a nontoxic, homemade drain cleaner that you can use on a monthly basis. Mixing equal parts baking soda and white vinegar will fizz away the sticky stuff that accumulates in your pipes, and it will also deodorize your drains.

If a plunger doesn’t do the trick, it might be time to pull out a drain snake. Richard demonstrates how to do this and explains the different types of mechanical drain cleaners available, including a closet auger (K-3 model manufactured by Ridgid) and a sewer snake (M-18 model manufactured by Cobra Tools).

A sewer snake is an effective tool for breaking up and pushing apart tough clogs like sand, gravel, and slimy bacteria that settle inside long pipe runs. To use a sewer snake, first remove the pop-up drain assembly in the sink. Feed a few feet of cable into the drain while cranking the handle. Once the snake makes some progress, stop cranking and back out a few feet of cable. Repeat this process until the clog is broken up and flushed away.

Investing in a garbage disposal will prevent many of the issues that lead to kitchen drain clogs and slow draining bathtubs. If you’re not ready to get a new disposal unit, try pouring hot water down the drain once a month. This will remove any built-up gunk that’s collected and keep your drains flowing smoothly. A hydro jet is an effective way to clear and clean a clogged pipe but should only be used by professionals as it can worsen the condition of rusty pipes. A drain snake can also be useful for removing grease and other oils that can build up in your pipes.

Call a Plumber

A plumber is a skilled professional who specializes in the installation, repair and maintenance of water fixtures. They can help prevent a minor problem from becoming a major one by responding quickly to service calls and completing repairs efficiently.

A successful career as a plumber requires more than just physical strength. They must be able to think critically and weigh the pros and cons of various solutions when faced with challenging problems. In addition to their technical skills, they must be able to communicate effectively with customers and explain complex issues in simple terms.

Plumbing is a trade that requires a high school diploma or equivalent and extensive on-the-job training, usually through an apprenticeship program that lasts four to five years. Apprenticeship programs combine classroom instruction with paid on-the-job training and are sponsored by unions, employers or the state.

Plumbers must be licensed by the state in which they work to practice their trade. This requires passing a background check and a drug test, as well as meeting education and experience requirements. It’s important to research the licensing requirements for your state, as they vary widely.

You should always choose a plumber who is properly licensed, insured and bonded for your peace of mind and the safety of your family and home. When choosing a plumber, ask for referrals from friends and neighbors who have used them in the past. Also, be sure to check the company’s reputation with local business organizations.

Choosing the right plumber can make all the difference in the quality of your plumbing services. A good plumber will be thorough in his work, listen to your concerns and answer all of your questions. He will also respect your property, making sure not to damage or contaminate your home while working on a project.

A bad plumber will be rude and unprofessional, leaving you with a more expensive repair bill than necessary. Take the time to compare rates and find a plumber who is both affordable and experienced. And remember, the best way to save money on plumbing is to keep it in tip-top shape in the first place!

How to Choose a Reputable Commercial Plumber

A commercial plumber works on larger plumbing systems in malls, restaurants, hospitals, and other massive buildings. Their work is more complicated and requires specialized knowledge of industry and building codes.


Unlike homes, where clogged drains or pipes can be easily identified, commercial plumbing issues can have a greater impact. They can cause significant damage and require a much bigger budget to repair. Contact Plumbers Woodland Hills for professional help.

A commercial plumbing company with a good reputation will likely have an excellent track record in delivering reliable and affordable services. They should also be licensed by the relevant authorities to show that they follow a set of ethical and professional standards. The license will also ensure that the company is liable in case of any malpractice or substandard work. It is also important to look for a company with a proven track record of handling different kinds of plumbing issues and problems. A good way to find a reliable and trustworthy commercial plumber is to ask for recommendations from colleagues, friends, and family members.

A licensed commercial plumber is qualified to work in a wide variety of buildings, including offices, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and high-rise establishments. In addition to installing water and sewer systems, they can also repair and maintain heating and air conditioning units. Some even specialize in green plumbing solutions, a growing field that involves the use of environmentally friendly materials to solve plumbing problems.

Commercial plumbers must understand that commercial structures have a more complex design than residential properties. They often have multiple floors and a large number of sinks, toilets, and urinals. A small problem such as a clogged drain or leaking pipe can quickly escalate into a major emergency in a busy restaurant, office building, or mall. Commercial plumbers must be ready to respond to emergencies at any time, day or night.

Moreover, a commercial plumber is more skilled at repairing higher risk damage. A broken water line in a large shopping center or office building can cause flooding, fires, and serious structural damage. This kind of damage can be costly to the business owner and should be repaired immediately. Commercial plumbers can install and maintain water heaters, hot tubs, and kitchen appliances as well.

A successful career as a commercial plumber requires a lot of training. The first step is to complete a trade school program or an apprenticeship with a master plumber. This apprenticeship lasts for about four years and combines classroom learning with hands-on experience. Upon completion, the apprentice must pass a licensing exam to become a journeyman plumber. Then, with more experience and additional coursework, they can become a master plumber.


When choosing a commercial plumber, look for one who has extensive experience in the plumbing field. This is essential because experienced plumbers are more accustomed to working on a wide range of different issues. They can quickly diagnose problems and offer solutions. In addition, they will be more familiar with specialized fixtures and systems that are used in commercial buildings.

Another important factor to consider is the reputation of a commercial plumber. You can find out about this by reading online reviews or asking for referrals from other businesses. It is also a good idea to choose a plumber who offers transparent pricing and a warranty on their work. This way, you can be confident that you’re getting the best possible service for your money.

Plumbing is an essential skill for people who live in commercial and industrial buildings, but these spaces are often much larger than residential ones. Because of this, they have different plumbing needs. The responsibilities of commercial plumbers include installing, repairing, and maintaining water supply lines and sewage systems. They must follow blueprint designs and be knowledgeable about a wide variety of materials to complete their work.

It’s also important for commercial plumbers to understand the complexities of large buildings, including how much pressure each system can handle and how water flows through them. This knowledge is crucial because a leak or clog in a single story can affect all the other stories below it. In addition, many commercial plumbing jobs require plumbers to deal with more stringent codes and health regulations than residential ones do.

If you’re interested in becoming a commercial plumber, you should start by seeking an apprenticeship. These programs last 4-5 years and provide on-the-job training specific to the career. They will also help you earn your journeyman’s license after several years of experience. In addition, you can pursue a degree in plumbing to gain more education and expertise. Choosing a specialization can also increase your earning potential, and may lead to unique project opportunities. For example, you can become certified in green plumbing solutions or specialize in high-rise establishments.


A reputable commercial plumber should be willing to offer a warranty as proof of the quality of his work. This will help protect your business from unexpected repairs and replacements in the future. A warranty also gives you peace of mind that if the problem returns, the plumber will take care of it. Moreover, a reliable plumber will use high-quality materials for installation and repair jobs to ensure that the results are satisfactory.

It’s important to hire a licensed commercial plumber who is familiar with the Uniform Plumbing Code. This means that they’ll know how to deal with the unique plumbing needs of commercial spaces, such as hospitals and office buildings. Furthermore, a licensed commercial plumber will be able to handle the larger pipe diameters and higher water pressure systems that are typically found in commercial buildings.

Apart from installing and repairing plumbing systems, commercial plumbers are also responsible for testing backflow prevention devices in commercial properties. These devices prevent polluted water from entering the public water supply. In addition, they can install water-saving fixtures and appliances that help reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings.

A good commercial plumber should have extensive knowledge of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. In addition, they should be familiar with local building codes and health and safety regulations. Commercial plumbers should also be qualified to perform gas work, which requires a license and certification.

Finding the right commercial plumber can be a challenging task. It’s essential to do your research and read reviews to find the best one for your company. You should also ask for referrals from other businesses that have used the services of a particular commercial plumber. It’s also a good idea to choose a plumber with a proven track record of completing projects on time and within budget.


A quality commercial plumber should be upfront and clear about their pricing. This helps customers understand what to expect and makes it easy for them to make decisions based on their budgets. They should also offer various payment methods and provide a detailed estimate that covers all costs, including labor, materials, and permit fees. A transparent pricing structure also increases customer value and leads to long-term relationships.

Commercial plumbing is generally more complex than residential plumbing. This is because commercial properties are typically larger and have more pipes than homes. Additionally, these structures often have more complicated plumbing systems that can include multiple types of fixtures and appliances. In addition, they usually have higher occupancy levels and more people using the plumbing system daily, which can increase wear and tear.

As a result, these systems require more frequent and thorough inspections and maintenance. This is why it’s important to hire a professional commercial plumber for any major or minor plumbing jobs. They can help you avoid costly repairs and keep your business running smoothly.

In addition to the increased complexity of commercial plumbing, it’s important to hire a professional with extensive experience in the industry. Moreover, they should be licensed and insured so that you can rest assured that your property is in good hands. Furthermore, they should comply with the relevant state plumbing codes to ensure that all work is done up to code and meets industry standards.

Unlike residential plumbers, who mostly deal with single homes, commercial plumbers must follow strict building codes and regulations for all aspects of a plumbing system. This includes ensuring that all fixtures meet specific water efficiency requirements and installing backflow prevention devices. This prevents polluted water from entering the public water supply, which is a common problem in commercial properties.

Commercial plumbing requires specialized tools and equipment that are not found in homes. As a result, their service charges can be significantly more than those of a residential plumber. In addition, they must also take into account the cost of overhead expenses, such as advertising, equipment and office rent. Additionally, they need to take into account the cost of specialized plumbing fixtures and equipment, as well as regional pricing differences.

What Is a Septic Tank?

Septic tanks are secure systems for storing and disposing of household wastewater. They are commonly used in rural areas that do not have access to a sewage system.

A septic tank is an underground, watertight container made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet prevent solids (fecal sludge) and oil/greases from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area. Visit Website to learn more.

septic tank

A septic tank is a buried, watertight container that receives all wastewater from household toilets and appliances. As wastewater exits your home through a toilet or other drains, it travels through a main drainage pipe that leads to the septic tank. From there, it separates into three layers: sludge, scum, and effluent. The sludge and scum collect at the bottom of the septic tank while the liquid wastewater (known as effluent) flows through an outlet into a septic system’s drainfield.

The septic tank is an important part of a home’s waste management system because it helps protect drinking water wells and local waterways from contamination by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that could cause illness in humans and animals. Wastewater also carries excessive nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can pollute soil, waterways, and lakes by encouraging the growth of algae that uses up oxygen in the water, harming fish and other organisms.

Septic tanks are popular solutions for homeowners who live in rural areas that do not connect to a municipal sewer network. They are often made of concrete or fiberglass and can be prefabricated in some cases. While septic systems are not perfect, they provide effective wastewater treatment and disposal. They reduce the risk of contaminating soil, freshwater sources, and bodies of water through bacterial decomposition, while reducing the amount of solid waste that must be hauled away and burned.

Once the wastewater reaches the septic tank, it goes through a decantation and sedimentation process that eliminates most of the organic material. This water then enters a second chamber where it’s treated by microorganisms on and near the soil in a natural filtration process. The resulting purified effluent is then pumped into a drainfield or another special type of soil absorption field for further treatment and re-use in the environment.

If you have a septic tank, it’s important to schedule regular septic tank pumping to keep it working properly. A septic tank that is not pumped out regularly can overflow, leading to sewage backups and other problems. You can hire a professional to empty your septic tank, which they do by attaching a large truck to the septic tank with a giant suction hose. The septic tank contents are then transported to a local sewage treatment plant for further treatment.

Wastewater from toilets, showers, bathtubs, sinks, laundry machines and dishwashers flows into your septic tank. The septic tank holds the wastewater for long enough for solid waste particles to separate through settling and flotation. Heavy solid materials sink to the bottom of the tank forming sludge, while fats, oils and grease float to the top of the wastewater forming a scum layer. Anaerobic bacteria inside the septic tank feed on organic wastewater pollutants and break them down into liquid water. This liquid water, also called effluent, exits the septic tank through an outlet pipe and enters your septic system drain field.

The drain field, also known as the absorption field or leach field, is a series of underground trenches and distribution pipes that biologically treat wastewater. The effluent from the septic tank seeps into the soil, where microorganisms digest the organic materials. This process removes harmful substances from the sewage, and the dissolved oxygen is released back into the environment.

Because the drain field can become waterlogged during rainfall, it is important to limit your household water usage. This helps reduce the amount of water entering your septic tank and helps prevent your septic system from needing frequent pumping. Some easy ways to lower your water usage include installing efficient showerheads and faucets, running only one load of laundry per day and limiting how often you wash dishes or take baths.

Another way to help with septic tank efficiency is to use septic system additives. There are many products on the market that claim to break down organic compounds and prevent sludge and scum layers from building up in your tank. However, most of these products are not proven, and they may cause septic systems to function improperly.

To keep septic tanks from needing to be pumped out as frequently, it is recommended that you have your septic tank regularly inspected and pumped by a professional. These professionals have special equipment that measures the septic tank layers, inspects the plumbing and provides regular maintenance. They will advise you on what types of products and how much to use to keep your septic tank functioning properly.

The bacteria that digest waste in your septic tank are anaerobic, meaning they don’t require oxygen from the air to function. As these bacteria work, they produce a gas known as hydrogen sulfide. It has a strong, unpleasant odor, similar to that of rotten eggs. Because of this, it’s important that the septic tank and absorption field have adequate ventilation.

Wastewater from your toilets (known as blackwater) and showers, bathtubs, sinks, dishwasher and washing machines (called greywater) run through a main drainage pipe that goes to your septic tank. Solid waste particles sink to the bottom of the septic tank to form sludge, while fats, oils and greases float to the top of the wastewater, creating a layer known as scum. Anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank eat the sludge and scum, breaking them down into liquids that flow to your septic drain field.

Because a septic tank is a large container that holds a significant amount of water and waste, there is a lot of pressure built up inside. That’s why it needs to be vented, or the pressurized gas would build up and clog your plumbing system or cause the septic tank to overflow.

The septic tank is typically vented through a plumbing vent stack that’s connected to all the home’s drainpipes. This vent stack is often located on the roof of the home and looks like a small, capped chimney vent. A septic tank also can be vented through an effluent filter that’s installed in the tank’s outlet baffle. This cylindrical device protects your septic tank’s drain field by trapping suspended solids that might clog the drain field.

Homes and buildings in wooded areas may find that the trees around their septic tanks prevent effective dispersal of venting gases. This can be resolved by pruning nearby trees to open up “ventilation paths” for the septic tank and drain field. It’s also a good idea to add 8 to 12 inches of mulch, such as straw or pine bark, over and around the septic tank, pipes and drain field. This helps prevent the soil from becoming compacted and can extend the life of your septic tank and absorption field.

The septic tank is a watertight, buried container where household sewage is treated and stored. It connects to a drain field (also known as an absorption or leach field) via a pipe, where the pre-treated wastewater seeps into the ground. A septic system is an ideal choice for homes located outside of city limits that can’t rely on municipal sewage services. However, living with a septic system comes with extra responsibilities and self-reliance. Septic tanks require maintenance and regular inspections to keep functioning properly.

A septic tank needs to be pumped out every three to five years, depending on how many people live in the house. It’s important to keep track of when your tank was pumped last, as an overfilled tank can cause waste to back up into the house and possibly contaminate surrounding groundwater. A full septic tank also causes foul odors in the backyard. Signs that the tank is getting full include gurgling toilets, slow-to-open drains, and standing water or a wet spot in the yard.

All the household wastewater that goes down your toilets, sinks and showers ends up in your septic system. This includes flushing items that don’t belong in your drains like bones, paper towels, diapers, tampons, chemical cleaners or paints, or oily cooking grease. This can clog your drains, harm beneficial bacteria, and stress the septic system.

Keeping up with regular septic tank maintenance and ensuring your drain field stays clear can help extend the lifespan of your septic system. You can minimize the amount of wastewater that enters your septic system by avoiding using chemical drain openers, only running one shower at a time and washing clothes over a few days rather than back-to-back, and installing low-flow toilets and efficient shower heads.

Another way to reduce the amount of wastewater that enters your sewage system is to keep trees and shrubs away from the drainfield area, as roots can invade the pipes and damage your septic system. In addition, it’s best to not drive or park on the drainfield as this can compact the soil around the pipes and limit their ability to absorb wastewater.