Maintaining Your System

Proper maintenance of your system is an investment that will save money and minimize costly emergency repairs.

Pumping-out and inspecting your system every 3 – 5 years is the best and most cost effective way to protect your investment.

Do’s and Don’ts to Keep your System Working Correctly:

Download Print-Friendly Fact Sheet: Taking Care of Your System (PDF)

DOs:

  • Do pump and inspect your system every 3-5 years (or as advised by a septic professional)
  • Do conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated and disposed of. Fix leaky faucets and toilets immediately. Water conservation will extend the life of your system by not washing away the healthy bacteria that your system needs.
  • Do space out your washing machine loads and other large water uses (dishwashers, showers, etc.).
  • Do only discharge biodegradable wastes into the system.
  • Do keep deep rooted trees and bushes away from the leaching system.
  • Do maintain natural shape of the land immediately down slope of the system and protect this area from cutting and filling.
  • Do ensure that water from the roof, gutters, and foundation drains do not flow over or into the system. Consider building a raingarden!
  • Do keep your septic tank cover accessible for tank inspections and pumping. Don’t cover the septic tank or cesspool with asphalt or concrete. Consider installing risers, if your access ports are buried six inches or deeper, to provide easy access for inspections and pumping.
  • Do call a septic professional when you have problems.

DON’Ts:

  • Don’t flush cigarette butts, cotton swabs, cat box litter, “flushable wipes,” sanitary napkins, tampons, disposable diapers, condoms, and other non-biodegradable products into your system.
  • Don’t poison your system by dumping solvents, oils, paints, thinners, disinfectants, pesticides, or poisons down the drain which can kill helpful bacteria and can contaminate groundwater.
  • Don’t flush unwanted medications down the toilet. Bring them to a collection program.
  • Don’t use a garbage disposal. Waste from garbage disposals will fill your system more rapidly, requiring more frequent pumping.
  • Don’t drive over your septic home wastewater system or otherwise compact the soil over your home wastewater septic system in any way.
  • Don’t plant anything over your home wastewater septic system except grass.
  • Don’t empty large quantities of water into or over your system from items such as hot tubs or pools, particularly if they are chlorinated.
  • Don’t use commercial septic tank additives, cleaners, enzymes, feeders or starters. At best, these are unnecessary and a waste of money. At worst, they can have a negative effect on the system’s function and can contaminate our local waterways.
  • Don’t pour oils, greases, or coffee grounds down the sink.
  • Don’t wait for signs of failure.
  • Don’t attempt to repair a failing system yourself. Hire an experienced septic home wastewater system professional. A repair permit may be needed from your local municipality.

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This website was prepared for the C.E.S.S.P.O.O.L. Project with funds from the New York State Department of State through Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund