How To Be Septic Smart

These tips are from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to stay Septic-smart.


Septic system maintenance is not complicated and it does not need to be expensive. Upkeep comes down to four key elements:

Inspect and pump frequently

The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected at least once a year.

There are four major factors that will decide the frequency your septic system requires pumping: household size, total wastewater generated, volume of solid in wastewater and septic tank size.

Here’s what you need to know.

A septic service maintenance call will entail inspecting for leaks and examine the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank. The service provider should note repairs completed and the tank condition in your system’s service report. Be sure to keep a copy of all maintenance records.

Use water efficiently

The average single-family home uses nearly 70 gallons of indoor water per individual, per day. Just a single leaky or running toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day. All of the water a household uses gets sent directly to its septic system. The more water you conserve, the less that ends up in your septic system. There are some simple ways you can save water:  

High-efficiency toilets.  Toilet use accounts for up to 30% of all household water use. Older homes that have toilets with 3.5 to 5 gallon tank reservoirs should be replaced with high-efficiency models that use 1.6 gallons of water per flush.

Washing Machines. Washing small loads of laundry on your machine’s large load cycle wastes a ton of water and electricity. Select the proper load size to reduce water use. When hooked up to a septic system, doing all your laundry in one day might seem like a time-saver but it can actually harm your system because it doesn’t allow the tank enough time to treat the waste water and could actually flood your drain field. Consider a high-efficiency washer or a washer with the ENERGY STAR label to cut down on water (50% less) and less energy (35% less).

Properly Dispose of Waste

Whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower or bath, everything that goes down your drains end up in your septic system. What goes down the drain affects how well your septic system works. Your septic system is not a trash can. Do not flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper. Never flush any of these items:

  • Cooking grease or oil
  • Flushable wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Condoms
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Cat Litter
  • Paper towels
  • Any kinds of medications
  • Household chemicals

Your septic system is designed to contain a collection of organisms to digest and treat household waste. Pouring toxins down your drain can kill these organisms and harms your septic system.

Maintain Your Drain field

Your drain field-a component of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank-is an important part of your septic system. NEVER park or drive on your drain field. Plant trees a good distance away from your drain field to keep roots from growing into your septic system. Keep roof drains, sump pumps, and other rainwater drainage systems away from your drain field area. Excess water slows down or stops the wastewater treatment process.