Day to day, living in a home with a septic tank is not much different than living in a home with a sewer connection. But there are a few habits you'll need to develop in order to keep your tank in good shape and prevent the need for frequent pumping. Here's a look.
Feminine hygiene products must go in the trash.
Even if the package says "flushable," these products need to go in the trash -- not down the toilet -- when you have a septic tank. This includes tampons, maxi pads, and all other feminine hygiene products. Though some of these products are biodegradable, they take so long to break down that they'll just pile up at the bottom of your septic tank, slowly decreasing its remaining volume until you have the tank pumped. The more feminine hygiene products you flush, the more often you'll need the tank pumped.
Your use of bleach and ammonia should be minimized.
Bacteria in the septic tank help break down solid waste so that it can then be carried out into the septic leach field (the portion of your yard into which the septic tank drains). If you clean with a lot of harsh chemicals and wash them down the drain, you'll kill off these bacteria. So, try to use natural cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda when possible, and if you do use bleach, dump your water down a storm drain or into your driveway rather than down the drain.
Toilet paper should not be used in excess.
Toiler paper will break down in your septic tank, but it does take time. Avoid using more than needed, and you'll be able to go a bit longer between septic pumping appointments. Talk to other household members (kids in particular) about using toilet paper in moderation. Consider buying higher-quality paper so you can use just a sheet or two per bathroom trip, rather than half a roll!
The garbage disposal should be used in moderation.
If your home has a garbage disposal, use it judiciously. The food waste that gets sent down the disposal sits at the bottom of your septic tank and breaks down very slowly. Try only using your disposal when you're in a rush or have company. Compost most of your food waste to get rid of it in an eco-friendly, septic-friendly manner.
Once you're moved in and settle, arrange to have a septic care company like George W Shepard & Son Inc come pump your tank and do an inspection. They can make a personalized recommendation regarding how many years you can wait between pumping sessions.