3 Septic Tank Safety Tips For Your Next Bonfire Party

Do you live in a rural area and sometimes host big bonfire parties with lots of guests and plenty of food? If so, it's time to start thinking about your septic tank. Septic systems can take a beating during any event in which several guests are invited. And when you add fire to the equation, you're putting yourself at risk too. Read on to learn 3 septic tank-related tips you have to keep in mind during your rural bonfire shindigs. 

Guest Parking

When too many guests show up to the party, some of them have to park on the lawn. Unfortunately, most residential septic tank systems are not designed to handle the weight of vehicles driving over them. If your bonfire party guests are parking their cars and trucks in the vicinity of your tank, you risk them damaging its lid. Such damage could result in an immediate collapse of your tank or a weakening of it and a later collapse.

Similarly, allowing your guests to drive over or park on your leach field is also a bad idea. Not only can it damage your system's discharge pipes, but it will also compact the soil in your leach field. With the soil compacted, your leach field's ability to process discharge water will be lessened and the overall lifespan of your septic system will suffer.

Do not let party-goers park anywhere near your septic tank or your leach field. Dedicate an area of your yard that is as far away from your system as possible to parking, and hang signs and put out cones to make sure your guests make it there with their vehicles. If you simply don't have room in your yard to accommodate guest parking without putting your septic tank at risk, consider asking guests to park at a different location and carpool to your house.

Fire Placement

As waste enters your septic system, bacteria work to break down the solids through the process of anaerobic digestion. One of the byproducts of anaerobic digestion is methane -- a toxic and extremely flammable gas. This gas can be ignited by fire just as easily as liquid petroleum.

Bonfires can reach temperatures hotter than 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit, and methane will auto-ignite at roughly 1,076 degrees Fahrenheit -- a flame doesn't even need to be present. If you're building your bonfire on or in the vicinity of your septic tank, you're risking blowing up your tank and putting yourself and all of your guests in danger.

Like your guests' vehicles, keep your bonfire far away from your septic system. It's also a good idea to throw plenty of green wood on your fire while it's burning (green wood will lower its burning temperature) and to post a few "no smoking" signs in the immediate vicinity of your septic tank.

Waste Volume

Residential septic systems are usually designed to efficiently handle the waste load of the houses they're connected to. Unless you have a 25 bedroom house, your tank likely isn't built to manage the water usage of 50 guests. And when your tank becomes full, your septic system will backup; you'll have waste water coming back up through your toilets and spewing onto your bathroom floors.

It's in the best interest of your septic tank to rent portable toilets for your guests any time you have a large gathering. If you don't want to deal with portable toilet rentals, consider having your septic tank pumped out before your next bonfire party so you're sure it won't become overloaded. It's also a good idea to hang a note on the inside of your bathroom door that requests your guests not flush anything that doesn't break down easily. The list should include baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, and paper towels.

If you live in a rural area and frequently host bonfire parties, you should know that those parties could have devastating effects on your septic system. Follow the above tips for protecting your septic system during your next bonfire, and contact a septic tank specialist from a company like Rob's Septic Tanks Inc for more tips on protecting your tank during social gatherings.