Septic Do’s and Don’ts


  • The contents of the septic tank should be pumped every two to three years or when the total depth of sludge and scum exceeds one-third of the liquid depth of the tank. If the tank is not cleaned periodically, the solids are carried into the absorption field; rapid clogging occurs; premature failure follows and finally, the absorption field must be replaced. Pumping your septic tank is less expensive than replacing your absorption field.
  • Detergents, kitchen wastes, laundry wastes and household chemicals in normal amounts do not affect the proper operation of household sewage treatment systems. However, excessive quantities can be harmful.
  • Avoid the disposal of cigarette butts, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, plastics, trash, etc., into your household sewage system. These items are not readily decomposed.
  • Septic tank additives are not recommended. Additives are unnecessary to the proper operation of household systems and may cause the sludge and scum in the septic tank to be discharged into the absorption field, resulting in premature failure. Some additives may actually pollute groundwater.
  • Avoid garbage grinders. Garbage grinders substantially increase the accumulation of solids in the septic tank, as well as the solids entering the absorption fields and pits. Their disadvantages outweigh the convenience they provide and are not recommended for households with their own sewage treatment systems. If used, the septic tank size should be increased.
  • Connecting your laundry wastes to a separate waste system (dry well or seepage pit), while not normally necessary, will reduce the load on the regular system and permit the survival of a marginal system.
  • All roof, cellar and footing drainage, and surface water must be excluded from the system. This drainage water can be discharged to the ground surface without treatment; make sure it drains away from your sewage treatment system.Roof downspouts should not drain toward the absorption field.
  • Backwash from water softeners contains salt that can damage your absorption field. Discharge this waste to a separate system or to the ground surface away from your well and valuable vegetation.
  • Don’t plant trees around your leach field. Roots from trees in the immediate area of the absorption lines may clog the system.
  • Keep swimming pools (above or in-ground) away from the absorption field.


Here are some things (not a complete list) that should not EVER go into the septic tank and leaching fields!

  1. Footing Drain and Ground Water and Sump Pumps
  2. Gutter or floor drains
  3. Non-Biodegradable Products – chemicals and solids (tampons, cigarette butts, condoms, or other similar items, hair, bandages, rags, strings, coffee grounds or cereals).
  4. Paper towels and handy wipes; no matter what the box or manufacturer, etc. says!
  5. No anti-bacterial soaps – Biodegradable soaps only! Do not use what is called “biocompatible soaps”.
  6. Heavy dose and long-term use of Mr. Bubbles/Dow’s spray toilet cleaner or any other excessively strong cleaner.
  7. Water conditioning backwashes / discharge from water softener, & purifier, sanitizer or conditioners
  8. Dehumidifiers and air conditioner discharges
  9. Chlorine and chemicals in excess (1 part chlorine 5 parts of water is a good spray bacteria cleaner)
  10. Hot tubs and jacuzzi discharges
  11. Excessive laundry – loads should be spaced out (one day of doing all laundry is a No No!)
  12. Water from leaking fixtures including sneaky leaky toilets. Remember to dye test the toilet often to check for leaks in septic system
  13. Dirt and inert products (muddy clothes and vegetables should be dusted off before washing) this applies to common senses in maintaining all types of septic systems
  14. Chemicals from x-ray equipment discharges, even if diluted because they will re-condense in disposal system and eventually pollute the underground environment which is illegal!
  15. Disposable baby wipes / diapers / hand and facial wipes – NO MATTER WHAT MANUFACTURER SAYS, DON’T PUT THEM IN; DISPOSE OF THEM IN A GARBAGE CAN!
  16. Hard toilet paper – use only soft toilet paper, they are closer to breaking down
  17. Dead fish or small animals – REMEMBER, it’s a septic tank, not a cemetery.
  18. Garbage disposal units discharge; if you must have one then it must run through a separate tank first. This is called a trash tank. After it is installed it should discharge into the septic tank or a separate leaching system and not directly to the existing leaching system
  19. Hair conditioners with heavy oils – if you use them, we need to know so we can do something to compensate with added or different bacteria (none if they are not bio-degradable).
  20. Latex, plastic or metallic objects – (If you haven’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t eat it – Don’t throw it in septic tank system!)

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