Maintaining Your Septic System Guide For Minnesota Homeowners

Extend The Life Of Your Sewer System

Conserving water can also extend the life of your septic system by reducing soil saturation, and reducing any pollution due to leaks. Overloading municipal sewer systems can also cause untreated sewage to flow to lakes and rivers. The smaller the amount of water flowing through these systems, the lower the likelihood of pollution. In some communities, costly sewage system expansion has been avoided by community wide household water conservation.

Water – Every Drop Counts

Water is a precious natural resource.  Despite the large proportion of land versus water on Earth, only 3% of the water is fresh.  And, less than one third of 1% is actually available for use.  The rest is frozen in glaciers or polar ice caps, or is deep within the Earth beyond our reach.  Growing populations and ongoing droughts are dramatically reducing our water resources.
There are a myriad of reasons to make every effort to conserve water.  The two most obvious: it will save you money in the long and short run and future generations need us to take responsibility for protecting this life sustaining resource.

Tips for Conserving Water

Bathrooms: In the United States, 27 per cent of our water is used for bathing.

  • Never use your toilet as a waste basket.
  • Do not let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth. (Saves 4 gallons per minute. That’s 200 gallons/week for a family of four.)
  • Take short showers instead of tub baths.
  • Use a water-conserving showerhead which can save 350 pounds of CO2 a year.
  • If you must use a tub, close the drain before turning on the water and fill the tub only half full. Bathe small children together.
  • Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it -such as watering a plant or garden.
  • Repair leaky faucets. They can leak up to 100 gallons of water per day!

Kitchen and Laundry:

  • Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin. Use a vegetable brush.
  • Do not use water to defrost frozen foods, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Use a dishpan for washing and rinsing dishes.
  • Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading into the dishwasher.
  • Add food wastes to your compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal
  • Operate the dishwasher only when completely full.
  • Use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.

Outside:

  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing off.
  • Wash the car with water from a bucket, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • When using a hose, control the flow with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
  • Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
  • If you have a swimming pool, consider a new water-saving pool filter.
  • Lower pool water level to reduce amount of water splashed out.
  • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation when pool is not being used

Equipment:

  • Repair all leaks. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons per day. To detect leaks in the toilet, add food coloring to the tank water. If the colored water appears in the bowl, the toilet is leaking.
  • Install ultra-low flow toilets, or place a plastic container filled with water or gravel in the tank of your conventional toilet. Be sure it does not interfere with operation of the toilet’s flush mechanism.
  • Install low-flow aerators and showerheads.
  • Consider purchasing a high efficiency washing machine which can save over 50% in water and energy use.

How Do You Measure Up?

Water efficiency measures that are implemented in a typical home can account for a savings of approximately 30,000 gallons of water per year, which amounts to a savings of over $100.00 per year. Of that, 28% of the total water used in the home is typically used by toilets that are inefficient in their water usage.

Potential Water Saving With High Efficiency Water Saving Toilets

Gallons per Flush Total Gallons/Year Gallons Saved/Year
5.5 gpf Toilet 32,120 24,665
3.5 gpf Toilet 20,440 12,965
1.6 gpf Toilet 9,344 1,869
1.28 gpf Toilet 7,475 -0-

These figures are based on 5 flushes/day/person Average household of 3.2 people over 365 days

Energy conservation – Front-load washers can easily save over $100 per year in energy costs, and they use 1/2 as much water. Because they use less water, they also require up to 68% less electricity to heat the water, resulting in more energy savings.

Front Load Washer

  • Try to do one thing each day to save water.  It’s fine if the savings are minimal.  Every single drop counts, and every person can make a difference.
  • Make sure your children and grandchildren are aware of the need to conserve water.

Saving Water Saves Energy and Money

By conserving water, you will save money. Using a low-flow showerhead will annually save you an estimated $10 per person in water heating savings alone. Savings can be realized from water and wastewater service fees, electric city bills, and longevity of your pumps and switches. The largest savings is your septic system performance and longevity.

Regular maintenance of your septic system will keep your system working efficiently and can prevent costly repairs. Inspections also can save you money by preventing unnecessary pump-outs, and a well-maintained system helps protect water quality.

Help protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, homes, and services. Call a Professional Minnesota Plumber to help you locate and rid your home of these wasteful problems.

Take the water awareness test and see how you measure up.  Go to:  www.getwise.org.

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