When you buy your first home with a septic system, the idea of managing this structure can be intimidating. A malfunctioning septic system can lead to slow or blocked drains, foul odors and potential hazardous materials in your yard. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your home's septic system in the best possible condition. In addition to routine cleaning and maintenance, here are some things you should know.

Water Conservation

Your septic system needs time to filter liquid and waste material. As a result, it doesn't typically handle an overload of water very well. Keep this in mind when you're doing anything water-related in the house so that you're not doing several tasks in rapid succession. For example, consider spacing your laundry out over the day so that you don't do four loads back-to-back. Give the tank time to process the wastewater from the first load before you start another one.

Keep an eye on all of your fixtures, including your toilets, to make sure that nothing is leaking. Talk with a plumber about installing low-flow valves or dual flush systems on your home's fixtures as well. This reduces water consumption, which also reduces the amount of water being sent into the septic system.

Disposal Precautions

Although it may seem quick and easy to flush just about anything, you should be selective about the types of things that go down your drain. Don't flush the leftovers or tissues. In fact, things like cotton, latex, baby wipes and even cooking oil should be kept far away from your septic system. These things won't break down in the tank, and they can lead to serious clogs.

You also need to be selective about any drain cleaning products you send down the drain. Too much bleach or other products that aren't septic safe may actually destroy the bacteria balance that your septic tank needs to work properly. Always choose cleaning products that are clearly labeled as safe for septic systems.

Maintenance Schedule

Make sure that you know where your septic tank is on the property and go out of your way to protect it. Don't ever place anything heavy around the tank, including vehicles. Avoid putting trees or large shrubs around the tank area, because you'll risk having root growth breach the tank.

Call a plumbing contractor (such as Shankster Bros) once every couple of years to have the tank pumped and cleaned. The more people you have in your house, the more frequently you will need to do this. Your plumbing contractor can help you determine how often is best.

Keeping your septic system flowing properly doesn't need to be a complex process. With the tips presented here, you can avoid several of the most common septic system issues.