Septic Usage Do’s and Don’ts

Keep your septic system healthy by following these simple guidelines.

DOLeaky Faucet

  • DO conserve water – the less water you use, the less water your system has to treat. By reducing water use you can add years to the life of your septic system and avoid repairs.
    • Use low-flow shower heads
    • Reduce toilet flushes
    • Fix leaky faucets immediately
    • Take shorter showers
    • Wash no more than two loads of laundry per day and do full loads
    • Wash only full dishwasher loads
  • DO keep accurate maintenance and system installation records.
  • Do know where the lids are located and mark them well.
  • DO educate yourself about your specific septic system design–how it works, and what, if any, alarm systems it has.
  • DO make annual septic tank inspections – checking scum and sludge levels. Also periodically check the drain field for wet areas or settling.
  • DO landscape your system correctly. Planting grass over the leach field is the best idea. It is best if the field gets sufficient sunlight, so keep nearby trees from shading the field permanently.
  • DO use liquid detergents. Powder detergents have clay in them and can clog your leach field.
  • Do add a lint filter to the washing machine discharge side to prevent lint and other damaging debris from the system.

And the DON’TS

  • DON’T neglect your system. All septic tanks must be pumped on a regular basis!
  • DON’T drive vehicles of any type over your leach field.
  • DON’T graze or pen livestock on the field.
  • DON’T allow rain gutters to discharge over the leach field.
  • DON’T flush anything down the toilet other than human waste and toilet paper.
  • DON’T put the following in your tank:
    • Cooking oil, fats or grease
    • Bleach or Clorox
    • Coffee grounds
    • Industrial cleaners
    • Paint or solvents
    • Paper towels
    • Anything plastic
    • Feminine hygiene products, condoms or disposable diapers
    • Cigarette butts
    • Expired medications, especially antibiotics
    • Large amounts of harsh cleaning products, bleach or disinfectants
    • Automobile fluids, such as gas, oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid etc.
  • DON’T use a garbage disposal. Tank bacteria can not break down ground up food.
  • Never ever enter an empty septic tank for any reason. You can easily be overcome by odorless fumes that are noxious or dangerous. Only a trained technician with proper breathing equipment assisted by a safety team, should enter an empty tank. PERIOD!

What’s Under Your Sink?

DISINFECTANT:
a means for destroying bacteria.
GERMICIDAL:
an agent for killing bacteria.
ANTIBIOTIC:
having the capacity to inhibit the growth of or destroy bacteria.
SANITIZE:
to free from germs by cleaning or sterilizing.
STERILIZE:
to cleanse by destroying microorganisms.
ANTI-BACTERIAL:
destructive to or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

(Have you noticed the recent rise in the use of anti-bacterial soap?)

ANTISEPTIC:
any substance that inhibits the action of bacteria.

(Do you think of what “ANTISEPTIC” means as you flush mouthwash down the drain?)

What are these substances in? Cleaning compounds, detergents, bleach, toilet cleaners, sink and tub cleaners, wax removers, polishes, drain openers, and many other products that we all use in our homes every day. Toilet disinfectants that get dispensed with every flush kill bacteria before they even get to the septic tank! Garbage disposals and water softeners also challenge the bacteria needed for proper septic tank operations. It’s no wonder there are so many failed and failing systems.

Are there any products that are better to use than others? Sure, look for one key word, from Webster’s:

BIODEGRADABLE:
capable of being readily decomposed by bacterial action.