Properly Maintaining Your Septic System

The most important aspect of maintaining your septic system is to first acquire a basic understanding of it's components, and how it works. There are many individuals such as plumbers, pumpers, and home inspectors who can provide this information. Once you have a basic understanding not forgetting about it is the next step. All too often we flush and run. It may come back to haunt you. No pun intended.

The most important maintenance item is knowing the do's and dont's of septic system maintenance. One of the most important do's is to periodically pump the septic tank. This is usually at a cost of $180 - $225. There are many myths about septic tank pumping. Utilize the chart below for frequency pumping rates in years. Keep in mind that if your home utilizes a garbage disposal, these rates may be shortened.

Household Size
Tank Size 2 4 6 (Frequency in years)
500 Gallons 2.6 1.0 0.5
1000 Gallons 5.9 2.6 1.5
1500 Gallons 9.1 4.2 2.6
2000 Gallons 12.4 5.9 3.7

Other important do's include: having your septic system inspected annually, keeping the inspection ports and pumping manhole accessible. Install risers to these areas if need be. Keep detailed records of repairs, pumpings, and inspections. This information will be very valuable should you decide to sell your home. Extend the life of the system by installing water flow saving devices to faucets, showers, and even toilets. Also look to eliminate other sources of water entering the system such as house footer drains, sump pumps, and gutter spouting.

The dont's are equally important as the do's and common sense really plays an important role. Some of the more sensible dont's include: Never park or drive over any part of the system. Never plant anything, but grass over the drainfield, as roots from trees and shrubs can cause clogging and damage the drainfield. Never use septic tank additives or if you do, do so only in accordance with directions. These products usually do not help and are more likely to harm the septic system. Never use your toilet as a trash can. Trash can poison the system and contaminate the ground water. Never pour harmful chemicals or cleansers down the drain. These items can destroy bacteria activity necessary for proper functioning. Other harmful products include coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers, kitty litter, tampons, fats, grease, oils, and condoms. All of these items can overtax the biological digestion that must take place. At HHI, we highly recommend not using a garbage disposal in your home, if your home is serviced by an on-lot septic system. Understanding these do's and dont's are these best step in proper maintenance of your septic system.