Septic System Guide
It's easy to forget about your septic system. Do you know what you should or should not put down the drain? How about how often you should inspect it or have it pumped?

Why should I maintain my septic system?
  • Maintaining your systems protects your investment in your home. If properly designed, constructed and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater. If your septic system is not maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars.
  • A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. Moreover, if you sell your home, your septic system must be in good working order.
  • A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected at least every 3 years is a bargain when you consider the cost to replace the entire system.
  • The safe treatment of sewage prevents the spread of infection and disease and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household water are nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Nitrogen and phosphorus are aquatic plant nutrients that can cause unsightly algae blooms. Excessive nitrate-nitrogen in drinking water can cause pregnancy complications. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of the pollutants.
How does a septic system work?
  • A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drain field and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest or remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater.
  • The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made out of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming a sludge) and cooking oil and grease to float to the surface (as a scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drain field.
  • The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drain field for further treatment by the soil. Microorganisms in the soil provide final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.
When and how should I maintain my septic system?
  • You should have your septic system inspected at least every 3 years by a professional and have your tank pumped as necessary, generally every 3 to 5 years.  An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property's value and could pose a legal liability.
  • Know what should not go in: dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels and other kitchen and bathroom items can clog and potentially damage septic system components. Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system and can contaminate surface waters and groundwater.
  • Conserve as much water as possible. Dripping faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each yearn and leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day! The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system.