Septic Tanks

SAFETY NOTE: You should never go into a septic tank. Because of the poisonous gases and low levels of oxygen inside, all work should be done from the outside.

  • If an inspection determines that the solids need to be pumped out of your tank, make sure to do this before the drainfield clogs or the sewage backs up.
  • Avoid placing things in your drains that decompose slowly such as paper, grease, sanity napkins, cigarettes and coffee grounds.
  • Use less water. Your septic tank will remain in working order longer if you send less wastewater to it.
  • Divert rain runoff away from the septic tank and drainfield. You should not have water running over these areas.
  • Use your garbage disposal sparingly. The solids that result from using your disposal will need to be pumped from your tank more often.
  • Do a regular check of the inspection pipes in the drainfield. If there is frequently a liquid level over 6 inches, this may be a sign that your system is not operating properly.
  • Never pour chemicals or other compounds into your septic tank that could damage the bacteria that help decompose solids, or could pollute the earth. This includes: paints, solvents, chlorine bleach, solvents and various poisons.
  • Avoid placing impermeable landscaping above the septic tank, replacement area and drainfield such as cement and plastic. The best thing for this area is grass. Anything else can make repairs and inspection difficult. Furthermore, impermeable materials will inhibit oxygen from entering the soil, which can lessen the ability of your septic tank to function properly.
  • Do not allow heavy traffic over your drainfield and replacement area, such as heavy equipment, livestock or vehicles.
  • Keep a detailed diagram marking the location of your septic tank and the drainfield. If you do not have this information, it may be available from your local health agency. This is important information to have for maintenance, as well as during the sale of your home.
  • Keep all maintenance records involving your septic system. These are important for your information and of any new owners.
  • Have your system inspected once a year.
  • Make sure that scum and sludge levels inside the tank are not within early warning levels.
  • Inspect the baffles and tees in the tank to make sure they are in good condition.
  • Inspect the drainfield to detect any wet spots or sewage rising to the surface, as well as any odors.