Do's & Don'ts
Do keep trees and brush at least 15' away from your septic system to keep root systems from restricting flow.
Do educate your family as to proper use of the system
Do check for faucet leaks; it is estimated that one leaky faucet can waste as much as 700 gallons of water a year.
Do set up and adhere to a sound system of inspection and cleaning.
Do install risers if needed. If the tank is more than a foot below ground level, simplify inspection and cleaning by installing a riser/manhole just below ground level. Most recently installed tanks that are just six to twelve inches below ground would not need a riser.
Do use boiling water or drain snake to open clogs.
Do minimize use with garbage disposals.
Do keep accurate records pertaining to location and cleaning of the system in your permanent house file so that this information can be passed on to the next owner.
Don't do all of your laundry in one day; space it out
Don't put a lot of water into the system at one time. Use the water sparingly and teach children to do the same.
Don't use chemical compounds or septic tank cleaners. They do not improve the bacterial decomposition and may actually hinder it.
Don't use large amounts of laundry soaps, detergents, bleaches, drain cleaners, etc., as the recommended quantities should not adversely affect the system. Liquid soap is best.
Don't discharge any water treatment into septic system.
- Baby wipes
- Hair combings
- Coffee grounds
- Dental floss
- Food wrappers
- Disposable diapers
- Cat litter
- Feminine products
- Cigarette butts
- Latex products
- Gauze bandages
- Fat, grease, or oil (from cooking)
- Paper towels
- Excessive amounts of bleach
- Excessive garbage disposal waste
- Hazardous materials
- Other heavy materials
NEVER flush chemicals that could contaminate surface and groundwater, such as:
- Waste oils
- Photographic solutions
Septic Tank Maintenance
Did you know about 25 percent of the U.S. population relies on decentralized--or onsite--wastewater treatment systems? About 95 percent of the onsite wastewater disposal systems are septic tank systems.
If you own a septic system, it is important that it be properly maintained. How often you need to pump the solids out of your septic tank depends on three major factors:
- The number of people in your household
- The amount of wastewater generated (based on the number of people in the household and the amount of water used)
- The volume of solids in the wastewater (e.g., using a garbage disposal will increase the amount of solids)
Although your septic tank absorption field generally does not require maintenance, you should adhere to the following rules to protect and prolong its functional life:
- Do not drive over the absorption field with cars, trucks, or heavy equipment
- Do not plant trees or shrubbery in the absorption field area because the roots can get into the lines and plug them
- Do not cover the absorption field with hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt. Grass is the best cover, because it will help prevent erosion and help remove excess water
- Do divert surface runoff water from roofs, patios, driveways, and other areas away from the absorption field
Homeowners wanting to take good care of their septic systems should make note of the following items that should never be flushed down the drain or toilet. These items can overtax or destroy the biological digestion taking place within the system or clog pumps and pipes.