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• Have your septic system inspected and pumped as necessary by a licensed inspector/contractor.


• Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda.


• Keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance activities.


• Learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance record for service visits.


• Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drain field.

• Your septic system is not a trash can. Don’t put dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, latex paint, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals into your system.


• Don’t pour grease down the drain. It can eventually clog your drain field.


• Don’t use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.


• Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drain field or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.


• Don’t build on or landscape over your septic system; additionally don’t cover over your septic system with asphalt or concrete.


Septic systems are designed to have a lifetime of 20 to 30 years with proper care and maintenance. Eventually, the soil around the drain field becomes clogged with organic material from years of filtering and fails the septic system.


Other factors can cause the system to prematurely fail such as pipes blocked by roots, soils saturated by storm water, or poor installation.


By far though, the most common reason for early failure is improper maintenance by homeowners. When a septic system is not regularly pumped, sludge (solid material) builds up inside the septic tank, flows into the absorption field and can permanently clog it.

If you notice any of these things, your system needs immediate attention:


•Sewage backup in your drains or toilets. This is often a black liquid with a disagreeable odor.


•Slow flushing of your toilets. Many of the drains in your house will drain much slower than usual, despite the use of plungers or drain cleaning products.


•Surface flow of wastewater. Sometimes you will notice liquid seeping along the surface of the ground near your septic system. It may or may not have much of an odor associated with it.


•Lush green grass over the absorption field, even during dry weather. Often, this indicates that an excessive amount of liquid from your system is moving up through the soil, instead of downward, as it should.


•Unpleasant odors around your house. Often, improperly vented or failing systems cause a buildup of disagreeable odors around the house.

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