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Septic System Do's and Don'ts

Remember the system works on natural bacteria produced by flushing natural products. You can kill the natural bacteria with some of the products you use or introduce products (wipes, sanitary napkins…) that the system cannot break down. The result could be a failure of the septic system and a backing up of sewage into your home.

Some helpful pdf's

- Guide to operation and maintaining your septic system.
- Septic System Do's and Don'ts.

A few tips to help keep your septic system working properly and protecting your family with environmentally sound waste management practices:

  • DO inspect the system regularly, complete regular maintenance and keep records
  • DO arrange for a septic service provider to maintain and monitor your system
  • DO pump out the tank on average every 3 years. This may vary depending on tank size and usage
  • DO check the baffles to insure they are in good working order
  • DO check and service/clean the effluent tank filter yearly
  • DO use the system for what it’s designed for – managing the waste water from your toilets, showers, sinks, laundry units, human waste and toilet paper
  • DO spread laundry use over the week rather than many loads on one day
  • DO frequently clean washing machine lint trap
  • DO run water regularly in seldom used drains such as sinks, tubs, showers, etc. to avoid noxious gasses from building up and causing odors inside
  • DO flush waste products regularly into your system regularly in order to sustain active microbes; infrequent use (vacant homes, extended holiday, season use only…) may not provide the bacteria in your system with enough food to sustain themselves and effectively breakdown your waste product
  • DO use water-conserving devices where possible. Low flush toilets and low flow showerheads
  • DO insure that faucets and toilets are not leaking (placing a few drops of food coloring into the tank and leaving it for several hours. The dye should not appear in the toilet bowl – if it does the tank is leaking and needs to be repaired)
  • DO use phosphate-free detergent. Phosphorus is harmful to the environment, as it can deplete oxygen which is vital to aquatic organisms and helps reduce algae problems in nearby lakes and streams
  • DO install risers from the tank lids to the soil’s surface to allow for easier regular maintenance
  • DO install and maintain effluent filters to limit the solids from entering into the field bed and helping to extend the life of your septic system
  • DO remove or prevent trees with large root systems growing near the field bed
  • DO insure that sump pump discharge is directed away from your septic system components
  • DO limit the amount of water you use and discharge into the septic system when their has been a prolonged period of when weather that has left the field bed rain-soaked – it may be too saturated for the effluent to percolate down through the soil
  • DO consult with a professional before using septic tank additives or “miracle system cleaners”. Some of this chemical can actually harm you on-site sewage system and contaminate ground and surface water
  • DO have a visual inspection done at the time of pumping when purchasing a new home

DO NOT:

  • DO NOT dispose of prescription or non-prescription medication into the toilet or sinks
  • DO NOT discharge water from water softeners into the septic system
  • DO NOT use a garburator – garbage disposal, as it will overload the tank
  • DO NOT use excessive amounts of bleach (not every load) and avoid harsh cleaners
  • DO NOT discharge excessive amounts of water into the septic system. This is called “hydraulic overload” and it can contribute to field bed failures
  • DO NOT stress the system with multiple loads of laundry – spread laundry throughout the week
  • DO NOT clean paint brushes in the sink or pour paint down the drain
  • DO NOT pour excessive amounts of fat, grease or oil down the drain
  • DO NOT flush any of the following into your system, it cannot break these down: hair, dryer sheets, paper towels, Kleenex, baby wipes, sanitary napkins, tampons, dental floss, coffee grinds, kitty litter, cigarette butts, condoms, cloth…
  • DO NOT dispose water from hot tubs into your septic tank - drain large volumes of water away from your field bed
  • DO NOT enter the septic tank. Gases inside the tank are poisonous and the lack of oxygen could be hazardous
  • DO NOT drive over your field bed, avoid improper landscaping or building additions that encroach the field bed (i.e. pools, decks & patios)