When planning for your party, our septic tank likely doesn't even register on your list of things to do. However, it probably should be. Septic tanks can only handle so much waste at a time, and a large house party can put a serious strain on your system. By taking a few extra steps ahead of time, you won't have to add an emergency plumber from a place like Riverside Heating & Plumbing to your guest list.
Consider Having the Tank Pumped Ahead of Time
Your septic tank has two limits: the first is how long it can go between pumpings, and the second is how much it can handle at a time.The first limit is determined by the number of people who live in the home, the size of the tank, and the health of the drainfield. There are charts to help you determine the standard pumping schedule for your tank, and the septic service specialist will let you know if you need to adjust that schedule because of the age of the system.
However, it is the second metric that you need to concern yourself with before a big party. The tank is designed to hod waste until the liquids can be released out into the drainfield. As the tank naturally fills, the amount of excess space you have lessens. If you are near your regularly scheduled pumping, you should go ahead and do it. If the tank is nearly full there is a real danger that the excess usage from the party will cause it to overflow. Pumping the tank will give you the space it needs to handle all of your guest.
Discourage Guests From Flushing Garbage
You should never flush garbage down the toilet or food waste down the garbage disposal. Municipal sewer systems are struggling with this problem, and your septic tank is even less able to deal with these materials. No one wants to spend their event telling their guests what they can and cannot do. However, you can use subtle suggestion to get your point across. If you are using disposable plates and silverware, make sure there are plenty of trash cans throughout the area.
If you are using traditional plates and cutlery, that need to be washed, consider creating stations for your guests to clean their plates before setting them aside to be washed. If you include a trashcan to scrape food into in these stations, people will be less likely to "do you a favor" by scrapping excess food in the trash. Alternatively, some responsible older children can be recruited to act as dishwashers for the evening. Clearing the plates away from your guests this way makes your guests feel special, and it will be one less chore you have to do later.
Ensure Your Outdoor Party Isn't Over the Drainfield
As a septic system owner, you know better than to go digging in your system's drainfield, but did you also know that large amounts of weight can also cause the field to collapse? While this usually occurs because someone decides to park their car in the area, any large amount of weight can cause collapse.
A small family gathering or a few close friends should not give you cause for concern, but a large party can certainly add more weight to the area than the underground pipes can support, especially if your septic system is on the older side. Rather than risking any problems, just plan to have the main gathering area on a sturdier area of your yard. A system collapse isn't just expensive to repair, it can endanger your guests. That is the last hing you want to do to your friends and family.
No, your septic tank can't literally get a hangover, but it can certainly be at less than its best the day after a big party. Fortunately, making a few considerations during your party planning can easily ensure that your septic system is feeling better than you do the morning after.