- Conserve water to avoid overloading the septic system. Be sure to repair any leaky faucets or toilets. Use low-flow fixtures.
- Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda.
- The new cleaners and band cleaners are designed to kill bacteria. This is good for the health of the people but is bad for a septic tank. The same elements in the soap to kill germs also kill bacteria in the septic tank. These bacteria are needed to break down the solids.
- Water softeners require large quantities of water to backwash. Please be sure to minimize usage, provide other means to dispose of this water, or omit water softeners all together. Most health departments allow this water to be discharged above ground or to a separate dispersal area.
- The septic system is not a trashcan. Do not put grease, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, paper towels, plastics, cat litter, latex paint, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals into your system. These items quickly fill your septic tank with solids, decrease the efficiency, and will require that you pump out the septic tank more frequently. They may also clog the sewer line causing wastewater to back up into your home. Hazardous chemicals can destroy the biological digestion-taking place within the septic system.
- Garbage disposals increase the amount of solids in the wastewater which can reduce the life span of the septic system and increase the need for maintenance. They also introduce material that has not been processed by a human and this destroys the bacteria that are working in the septic to break down the solids.
- Keep records of repairs, pumping, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance activities.
- Have the septic tanks inspected every year and pumped as necessary based on the inspections by a licensed contractor.
- Don't make or allow repairs to your septic system without obtaining the required health department permit. Use professional licensed septic contractors when needed.
Do's and don'ts
- Direct all wastewater from your home into the septic tank. This includes all sink, bath, shower, toilet, washing machine and dishwasher wastewater. Any of these waters can contain disease-causing microorganisms or environmental pollutants.
- Do not direct storm water from your garage or driveway into or onto the septic tank or drainfield.
- Do not drive on the drainfield. Compaction of the soil doesn't allow for air to infiltrate the system. There is also the possibility of crushing parts of the system.
- Do not use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.
- Do not use septic tank additives, commercial septic tank cleansers, yeast, sugar, etc. These products are normally not necessary and some may be harmful to your system.
Septic systems are a very simple way to treat household wastewater and are easy to operate and maintain. Homeowners must take an active role in maintaining the septic system. To have a healthy, long lasting and trouble free system, follow these guidelines: