Tips to keep your septic healthy!

Stefanie Poisson

How your septic system works:

There are two main parts to your septic system: 1) tank and 2) drain field.
Wastewater from the house flows into the tank, the heavy solids settle to the bottom of the tank forming a layer of sludge. Grease and light solids stay on the top forming a scum layer. Natural bacteria work to break down both layers, however, not all will break down with bacteria. This creates the need for regular cleaning of the septic tank.
The separated wastewater in the middle layer of the tank is pushed out into the drain field as more wastewater enters the tank. If the wastewater doesn’t remain in the septic tank long enough, it doesn’t have time to separate and solids can be carried out into the drain field, eventually causing the field to plug up.
Regular maintenance is the key to a healthy and long lasting septic system. On average a regular household with an 800-gallon tank (with 3 people) should be cleaned out every 2.5 years. If you have a garbage disposal, even more often. The cost of not taking care of your system is significantly higher than the fees to clean it on a regular basis. To replace the average system will cost a homeowner anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.
Backup of septic into your home can also be very costly. It will ruin carpets, drywall, framing and can cause moulds to grow and your home to become unsafe. The best time of year to pump the tank is Summer or early Fall. This gives the tank time to re-establish the bacteria before cold weather hits. The cost of pumping your system in the winter months is significantly higher and has an impact on your system should you have a problem during cold weather.



  •  Know the location of the tank and drain field. Keep a sketch handy with your maintenance records.
  • Have your tank pumped out whenever it is appropriate for your system.
  • Keep the tank lid accessible, as well as the inspection ports. Use a riser if necessary.
  • Conserve water to avoid overloading the system-especially in high water table areas.
  • Divert other sources of water away from the septic system.


  • Drive or park on the tank or drain field.
  • Plant anything except grass on your drain field.
  • Dig in or build on top of your drain field.
  • Use your toilet to dispose of harmful chemicals or cleaners. They will kill the bacteria.
  • Allow backwash from home water softeners to enter the septic system.

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