Tips for Septic system Maintenance

The most obvious tip is: Pump your tank before it is to late (ie, before solids build to the point of flowing out to the drainage system. That said, here are other tips that may help.

  1. Do not send non-biodegradables to the septic system. This includes:


Disposable diapers

Cat box litter

Cigarette butts

Sanitary napkins



Facial tissues

Paper towels

Coffee grounds

Disposal of these items adds to the solids load and fills the septic tank more rapidly. This decreases efficiency and increases maintenance costs.

  1. Avoid pouring liquid fats, grease, or oils down the kitchen sink drain. Fats and greases solidify and can block parts of the system.
  2. Since a garbage disposal significantly increases the solids load to the septic tank avoid use of a garbage disposal unless the septic system is specifically designed to handle the extra load (i.e., a larger tank), and/or you are committed to pumping your tank on a frequent basis.
  3. Keep toxic and hazardous chemicals out of the septic system. These include:




Waste oils

Photographic solutions




Toilet tank sanitizing chemicals (i.e. dispensers/tablets)

Basically, keep anything that would kill the bacteria out of the septic tank. Moderate use of household cleaners, disinfectants, and bleaches does little harm to a septic system, the key word being MODERATE!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not use ANY disinfectants/bleaches etc. for one week after your tank is pumped. Once your tank is full of water, these chemicals are diluted. When added to an empty tank, the highest concentration is attained.

5. Conserve Water

Every drainage system has a limited capacity to drain!!

If you exceed that capacity, you are in for problems. Besides the capacity issue, excess water use increases the solids load to the drainage system. All effluent contains some solids, thus more effluent = more solids to the drainage system. Also, excess water usage reduces the time the liquid spends in the tank, thus reducing the time available to separate and treat the solids contained in the liquid.

Water flow to the septic system can be substantially reduced through water conservation; low-flow faucets, water-saving showerheads, conservation equipment for toilets, and water-saving appliances can be installed with a minimum of expense. Hints for conserving water include:

Repair leaky faucets and toilet tanks promptly. Water leaking from the tank into the toilet bowl can easily waste 200 gallons of water a day. For most systems this, added to normal use, exceeds the systems drainage capacity. Leaking toilets (flapper stuck or water entering the overflow tube) is the number 1 cause of large excess water use.

Reduce toilet waste. The flush toilet accounts for about 40 percent of sewage wastes from an average home. Many flush toilets use 5 to 6 gallons of water per flush. Flush toilets that use much less water are available. Avoid the extremely low flow models since they often do not work effectively. Purchase with advice from a reputable plumbing store.

Use dishwashers and washing machines only when they are fully loaded. Distribute washing clothes throughout the week to avoid overloading the drain field.

Do not let water run as you: shave, wash hands, brush teeth, or wash dishes.

Keep showers short, and reduce the amount of water used for baths. Low flow showerheads are very effective at reducing water usage during showers.

Teach family members water-saving practices.