When your home or business has a septic system, it’s important to properly maintain it as proper maintenance can extend the life of the system and aid in avoiding major repairs and failures. Systems that aren’t properly maintained are more susceptible to damage such as blockage and breakage in the lines, damage to the tank or tanks, and issues draining as the system is designed to.

There are four main things to remember in proper maintenance of your system:

  • Contractor Maintenance: Contractor maintenance are the maintenance items performed by an outside contractor such as septic tank pump outs, filter changes and inspection of the tank or tanks.
  • Drainfield Maintenance: A homeowner or business owner is generally responsible for most maintenance of the drainfield simply through knowledge.
  • Disposal of Waste and/or Garbage: Knowing what should and shouldn’t be disposed of in your septic system.
  • Water Usage: Understanding your appliances and their efficiency as well as general water usage in the home can assist in the functionality of your septic system.

Contractor Maintenance

Pump outs or septic cleanings are performed by licensed septic contractors. The general rule of thumb is that a septic system should be pumped out or cleaned every three years or 36 months. Sometimes it’s recommended, based on usage, to perform a pump out more or less frequently. At the time of the pump out or cleaning, your septic contractor should evaluate the tank for any compromises, such as cracks or leaks, and also evaluate the sludge and scum levels in the tank. These should as they are either clear signs or indicators that there is an existing issue with the system’s functionality.

It’s very important that the home or business owner to keep proper records of their systems maintenance and repairs.


Drainfield Maintenance

When it comes to your home or business’s drainfield, maintenance is fairly easy with a little bit of knowledge. Here’s a list of guidelines to follow when it comes to this important septic system component:

  • Don’t place any other drainage systems anywhere near your drainfield. Placing other drainage systems near the drainfield can cause saturation and hinder the functionality of the septic drainfield.
  • Avoid driving or parking on your drainfield, or any area of your septic system. This can cause collapse or breakage of system components.
  • Refrain from planting trees or shrubbery on or near your septic system. Planting any type of rooting trees or shrubbery near or over your septic system can cause severe root intrusion, damaging your system and hinder its functionality.

Waste Disposal

Before you throw anything in your toilet or down your drain, ask yourself, does it belong there?

The only object that should be flushed down a toilet are excrement and toilet paper (preferably 1-ply). Flushing anything other than what’s meant to enter a septic system can impede flow through the system, causing back-ups and clogged piping.

Also, it’s recommended to limit the use of detergents and cleaning products, especially those containing bleach as they reduce the good bacteria / living organisms that are vital for the health of your system.

For additional guidance on what should or should not be flushed or drained into your septic, see our other blog (To Flush or Not to Flush).


Water Usage

When it comes to water usage and your septic system, less is more. When a septic system is inundated with water, it makes it very difficult for the system to properly function and effectively filter water properly before discharging it back into the groundwater. Allowing retention of water through septic systems allows the system to filter the water prior to draining back to the groundwater.

Also, large amounts of water usage can also overtax a septic system, causing saturation of the absorption area or back-up of the septic system.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when it comes to usage and your septic system:

  • Use high efficiency appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers. They use less water so in turn, cause less tax on your system.
  • If you’re having an event that’s going to require heavy restroom and water usage at your home, it’s recommended that you have the treatment tank pumped prior to or consider portable restroom options.
  • Limit shower time.
  • Do laundry is portions instead of all at once, to limit water usage.

The above tips can assist in keeping your septic system healthy and allowing it to function as it’s designed to. Following these tips can prolong the life of your septic system and save you money in repairs or service.