Do’s and Don’ts

Do pump out your septic tank every 3 to 5 years
Eventually the solids build up in the septic tank to the point where there is no room for the incoming water to stay in the tank and it flows straight through to the drainage field without giving the solids enough time to settle out. Septic fields fail when solids are allowed to pass into the field and plug the soil so that it no longer allows water to pass into it. There are a number of indicators of a plugged septic field including soggy ground, noxious odors, slowly draining sinks. Fixing a damaged drainage field is far more expensive than regular pump outs.

Don’t use a garburator in your kitchen sink
A garburator adds a large volume of organic solids to the septic system thereby increasing the treatment demands on the system. Of more concern though is that they create such fine particles that they are likely to pass through the septic tank without settling out and ultimately contribute to clogging the drainage field.

Do contract a qualified firm to provide regular maintenance, if your system is more complicated
In locations where a basic septic tank and drainage system will not work, alternative systems can be used to provide treatment. These may include mechanical components (pumps, aerators, alarms...) which should be inspected and serviced on a regular schedule. There are firms that specialize in such work.

Don’t pour chemicals down the drain
Many common household chemicals can damage the operation of your septic system by killing critical microorganisms. Use bleaches, disinfectants, drain cleaners etc in small quantities only.

Do check the capacity of your wastewater system before expanding your house
The capacity of your wastewater system is based on the number of occupants of the house as indicated by the number of bedrooms. If you add on more rooms then you may need to add a second septic tank to ensure that you retain adequate settling time. Keep in mind that this is a cheaper solution than overtaxing your existing system and being forced to replace a damaged drainage field.

Don’t pour oil and grease down the drain
Oil and grease may clog your waste pipes and tempt you to use commercial drain cleaners. These can be harmful to the microorganisms that are the core of your treatment system.

Do use a filter in the septic tank “Outflow T”
This will further protect your drainage field from damaging solids that may be carried through by the wastewater flow.

Don’t use products that claim “never again will you have to pump out your septic tank”
If these products keep the solids in solution rather than allowing them to settle out in the tank, then they will be carried through and deposited in the drainage field. Eventually the field will clog and the system will fail.


Don’t use “starter” or “booster” products
The ’beauty’ of a septic tank system is that it requires nothing to get it started except for the addition of wastewater. The wastewater stream already contains all of the nutrients and organisms required to start and continue the treatment process.


Don’t dispose of water system backwash in the wastewater system
Salts used in filters to soften water and remove unwanted contaminants can damage the operation of your septic tank. When backwashing filters, collect the water and dispose of it separately from the wastewater system.


Don’t add water to your drainage field
Extra water from normal drainage, sprinklers, roof gutters can overload the drainage field and inhibit treatment.

Don’t use too much water
Too many loads of washing, too many showers, too many toilet flushes will increase the water volume passing through the septic tank thereby decreasing the time for settling out solids.


Don’t plant trees, shrubs or vegetables on the drainage field
Root systems can damage the perforated drainage pipes. Excessive watering can over tax the field.


Don’t install landscape or fabric over the drainage field, cover it with asphalt, drive over it, or build a tennis court or other structure on it
The drainage field must “breathe”. This promotes action by aerobic bacteria and allows treated wastewater to evaporate into the air. Therefore the field must not be sealed either by compaction from heavy weights or installation of an impermeable top layer (plastic, fabric, asphalt, clay). In addition access to the septic tank must be retained to allow pump outs.