Septic Tank Installation, Use and Maintenance

Even a properly designed and installed septic system cannot treat wastewater if the tank is not used and maintained properly.

  • For future maintenance, avoid deep root planting and other damaging activities in the drain field area, make an accurate diagram showing the location of your tank, drain field and replacement area.
  • Keep a record of pumping inspections and other maintenance. Include name, address and phone numbers of installers and pumpers.
  • To simplify tank access for inspection and maintenance, install a watertight concrete riser over the septic tank.
  • The area over the drain field should be left undisturbed, with only a mowed grass cover. Roots form nearby trees or shrubs may clog and damage your lines.
  • Keep automobiles and heavy equipment off the drain field.
  • Restrict the use of your kitchen garbage disposal. It increases the amount of solids in the tank, making them slower to decompose.

Septic System Don’ts

Most septic systems are designed to have a lifetime of 20 to 30 years, under the best conditions. However, many septic systems will fail before this time.

  • Do not plan any building additions, pools, driveways, or other construction work near the septic tank, drain field or the replacement drain field.
  • Do not flush non-biodegradable materials such as plastics, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins and applicators. They rapidly fill up the tank and will clog the system.
  • Do not pour grease or cooking oils down the sink drain because they solidify and clog the soil absorption field.
  • Do not allow paints, motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers or disinfectants to get into your septic system. They can pass directly through the septic system and contaminate groundwater. These chemicals can also kill the microorganisms which decompose wastes and can damage the soil-drain field.
  • Do not use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead use boiling water or a drain snake to free up clogs. Clean your toilet, sinks, shower and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda rather than the stronger potentially system-damaging commercial bathroom cleansers.