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Taking Care of Your Septic System

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A TON OF CURE!

Committing a little attention to the care of your system can help to avoid the nightmare of a failing system. Assuming that your septic system was properly located, designed, and installed according to state codes, you are now in the driver's seat for the care of your system. By following the recommendations below, you can help your system to work properly for years to come.

DO's

  • Conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated and disposed of by your system. Doing laundry over several days will put less stress on your system.
  • Repair any leaking faucets or toilets. To detect toilet leaks, add several drops of food dye to the toilet tank and see if the dye end up in the bowl.
  • Divert down spouts and other surface water away from your tank and drainfield. Excessive water keeps the soil from adequately cleansing the wastewater.
  • Have your septic tank inspected and pumped regularly by a licensed septic tank contractor. Suggested frequency is 3-5 years.
  • Keep your septic tank cover accessible for inspections and pumpings. Install risers with lids if necessary.
  • Call your county health department or a registered septic tank contractor whenever you experience problems with your system, or if there are any signs of system failure.
  • Keep a detailed record of repairs, pumpings, inspections, and other maintenance activities. Pass these on to the next homeowner.

The resources portion of our site is based in part on similar publications by the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA), North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control (SCDHEC). The downloadable PDF was prepared and published by the FDEP Nonpoint Source Management Section. For more information, contact your county health department or FDOH, Bureau of Onsite Sewage.

DON'Ts

  • Don't drive over your tank and drainfield or compact the soil in any way.
  • Don't dig around the tank or drainfield, or build anything over it, and don't cover it with a hard surface such as concrete or asphalt.
  • Don't plant anything over or near the drainfield except grass. Roots from nearby trees and shrubs may clog and damage the drain lines.
  • Don't use a garbagr disposal, or at least limit its usage. Disposals increase solids loadings to your tank by about 50%, so you have to pump your tank more often than normally suggested.
  • Don't use your toilet as a trash can or poison your system and the groundwater by pouring harmful and cleansers down the drain. Harsh chemicals can kill the bacteria that help purify your wastewater.
  • Don't put in a seperate pipe to carry wash waters to a side ditch or the woods. This graywater contains germs that can spread disease. Use a laundry system.
  • Don't waste your money on septic tank additives. The bacteria needed to treat wastewater is naturally present in sewage. Additives can resuspend solids causing your drainfield to clog. Additives do not eliminate the need for routine pumping of your tank.
  • Don't allow backwash from home water softners to enter the septic system.
  • Never enter a septic tank -- toxic gasses from the tank can kill. If your system develops problems, get advice from your county health department or a licensed septic tank contractor.

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