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Six Tips for a Healthy Septic System

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As the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 SepticSmart Week comes to an end we wanted to share some of our tips for maintaining a healthy septic system.

A septic system is an onsite wastewater treatment system that processes and purifies household waste (effluent). The effluent consists of blackwater (toilet wastes) and graywater (kitchen sink, bathtub and laundry wastes).

A septic system has two components: a septic tank and a leachfield or drainfield (soil absorption field). Primary treatment occurs in the septic tank, where bacteria digest organic materials in the wastewater. The effluent then flows into the leachfield for secondary treatment. Here, bacteria complete the digestion and purification process as the wastewater slowly leaches or infiltrates into the soil.

Keep your septic system running smoothly with these six tips for a healthy septic system. 

1. Conserve Water

Large volumes of water entering the septic system over a short period of time will flush untreated solids out of the septic tank before the pre-treatment process is complete.

  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
  • Spread out heavy water use such as showers or washing clothes.
  • Repair leaky faucets and fixtures.
  • Replace older toilets with new 1.6-gallon toilets.

2. Keep Drains Clean

If it’s not biodegradable, it doesn’t belong in the septic system.

  • No cat litter, coffee grounds, cotton swabs, diapers, cigarettes, or sanitary products.
  • No paints, oils, chemical drain cleaners, solvents, poisons, or pesticides.
  • No grease or cooking oils.
  • Reduce use of disinfectants, antibacterial soaps, bathroom cleaners, and bleach.

3. Regular Maintenance

Most septic tanks need pumping every three to five years. Be mindful that high water usage may result in the need for more frequent septic tank servicing.

  • Hire a licensed septic system contractor to inspect and pump your tank.
  • Keep a regular maintenance schedule and record.
  • The use of additives is not necessary.

4. Keep Surface Water Away

  • Divert water from downspouts, roofs, driveways, and sump pumps.
  • Landscape your yard to channel rainwater away from your septic system.

5. Encourage Plants

  • Grow grass over the system to prevent soil erosion.
  • Avoid planting water-loving trees near the leachfield.

6. Avoid Physical Damage

  • Never drive over your septic system.
  • Don’t dig in the leachfield area.
  • Don’t cover the leachfield with a structure, concrete, or asphalt.

Do you have additional septic system maintenance tips to share? Let us know by leaving them in the comments section below.

These tips have also been organized in this PDF that you can download, print, and share with your customers.