Septic System "Do's" and "Don'ts"



·       Do conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated and disposed.

·       Do only discharge biodegradable waste into the system.

·       Do keep your septic system accessible for tank inspections and pumping. Many persons install a concrete riser (or manhole) over the tank to provide easy access, inspection and pumping. Don’t cover the tank or cesspool with asphalt or concrete.

·       Do have your septic tank/cesspool pumped regularly and checked for leaks and cracks. Tanks should be pumped every 3-5 years. Keep a schedule and record of inspection and pumping.

·       Do be sure that water from the roof, gutters and foundation drains do not flow over, or onto the system.

·       Do compost your garbage or put it in the trash, rather than into the septic system.

·       Do keep deep rooting trees and shrubs away from the system.

·       Do restrict use of a grinder/disposal. Waste from garbage grinders will fill your septic system more rapidly, requiring more frequent pumping, but will also float and increase scum blanket thickness.

·       Do call a septic professional when you have problems.


·       Don’t flush cigarette butts, cotton swabs, cat box litter, sanitary napkins, tampons, disposable diapers, condoms and other non-biodegradable products into the system.

·       Don’t poison your system by dumping solvents, oils, paints, thinners, disinfectants, pesticides or poisons down the drain which can kill the bacteria that help purify sewage and can contaminate groundwater.

·       Don’t dig into the septic system/cesspool or build anything over it.

·       Don’t plant anything over your septic system except grass.

·       Don’t drive over your septic tank/cesspool or compact the soil in any way.

·       Don’t empty large quantities of water from items such as hot tubs or whirlpools, particularly if they are chlorinated.

·       Don’t put in a separate pipe to carry wash water to a side ditch or the woods, The gray water contains germs that can spread disease.

·       Don’t wait for signs of failure.

·       Don’t attempt to repair a failing system yourself. Hire an experienced septic system contractor. A repair permit maybe needed from your local health department.


·       Water conservation will extend the life of your system.

·       Cesspools do not have unlimited capacity. Cesspools are usually designed for a limited gallons capacity per bedroom per day. Overloads can occur seasonally or daily.

·       Residential septic tank additives are necessary. The additional bacteria will help partially decompose the tank solids that are naturally present in sewage. Even if you use additives, you will still need to pump the solids out of your tank.

·       When working with septic systems, do so carefully and safely. Sewage contains germs that can cause diseases. Never enter a septic tank/ cesspool. Toxic and explosive gases in the tank present a hazard. Block cesspools can collapse. Electric control present a shock and spark hazard. Secure the septic tank lid so children cannot open it.

·       It is important that the system is repaired as soon as possible to minimize the health risk to your family and community.