Top Tips for Septic System Maintenance

Follow these septic system care do's and don'ts to benefit the life of your system, your health, your finances and the environment.

| 01/24/2013

  • septic system care
    Without proper septic system care — especially as a system nears 20 or more years of use — homeowners are in danger of leaks and blockages that can contaminate soil and water sources.

  • septic system care

Bio-Microbics incorporates designs, manufactures and supplies wastewater and storm water equipment for residential single-family homes, small communities, commercial properties and marine vessel markets.

If a septic system is not suitably located, properly designed, carefully installed, and adequately maintained, it can fail. It can also fail if solids clog it.  Failing systems can threaten your family and neighbors' health, reduce the value of your property, and cost a lot of money to repair. They can also contaminate groundwater, lakes, or streams with bacteria, nitrates, viruses, chemicals and chlorides. These routine actions and common issues to keep an eye out for listed below will help you keep your septic system flowing smoothly and safely.

Septic System Care

Record Keeping Keep copies of all system drawings/plans of the site, installed equipment, and service records with all other home appliance documents. Record all applicable information.

Laundry/Water Usage Spread wash loads throughout the week. Instead of liquid fabric softener, dryer sheets should be used. Use low-suds, biodegradable and low phosphate detergents, such as Mighty Mike® from Scienco/FAST (

Leaky Fixtures Large quantities of water are added to your wastewater system when you have leaking fixtures. Timely detection and repair can help to maximize the life of your system, especially the drain field.

Water Softeners The FAST® process may tolerate discharge from properly operating softeners that backwash as needed based on water usage (DIR) vs. timer operated systems, if allowed by your local regulatory authority. However, these discharges can possibly damage other parts of the septic system.

Food Wastes Garbage disposal waste is acceptable – if allowed by your local regulatory authority. However, it may lead to more frequent removal of solids from your septic tank. For large quantities of food, please dispose of in the garbage.

Fats, Oils, and Grease Be aware of too much grease (i.e. animal fats, vegetable oils, lard, etc) down the drain may overload or prevent the bacteria from fully breaking down the waste.

Disinfectants/Cleaners Use citricacid, chlorine, and/or other biodegradable cleaners according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Products containing quaternary ammonia or pine-oil based cleaners should not be used. Use drain cleaners as a last resort to unclog pipes.

Floor Drains from Garage and Workrooms Should be diverted away from your septic system. Items like petroleum-based oils, gas, and saw dust should never enter the system.

Medicines  Do not flush them down any drain. All antibiotic medicines are harmful to treatment quality. Unused medications should be returned to the pharmacy, doctor, or thrown away in the trash.

Septic Tank Additives/Enzymes The wastewater in the system contains all the required bacteria for proper operation. Additives are unnecessary; and may do more harm than good.

Paper Products Use single- or double-ply, non-quilted, white toilet paper products. Some color dyes in the paper cannot be eaten by natural bacteria. Non-bleached paper (brown in color) takes longer to break down and can therefore increase your biosolids pump out frequency. Avoid flushing paper towels, napkins, wipes, or other thicker paper material.

Septic System Yard Safety

Blower Operation Do not turn off blower. Notify your maintenance provider if you detect problems with the blower or if you are leaving the property for an extended period (more than 3 weeks).

Alarm If alarm sounds, press the “Reset” button on the front of the panel. Contact your service provider (info should be on the control panel and/or the blower) or contact Bio-Microbics (913-422-0707) as soon as possible.

Down Spouts Anywhere water is collected, i.e. roof downspouts, pavement runoff, or sump pump/house footing drains, the water should be diverted away from the septic tank or drainfield.

Traffic/Landscaping Do not drive over any portion of your system (tank, piping, drain field) except for normal yard traffic, i.e. lawn mowers, etc. Tanks (H-20) can be made for under roadways, driveways. If possible, deter traffic by using a fence or create a landscaped area with shallow root plants (ornaments, bushes, decorative grasses, and/or flowers). Don’t plant trees near any portion of your system (within 30’).

Structures Do not build patios, carports, or other structures over any part of your septic system; as this may cause damage.

Vents/Odors/Intakes Keep vent and blower housing clear of debris, such as leaves and snow. Contact your service provider if you detect septic odors, as this may indicate a problem with the system.

Biosolids (sludge) Removal To determine when pump out is required, a maintenance provider should measure the biosolids level(s) in the tank(s) on a regular basis. Please see the service manual for specific procedures.

Don’t Pour These Items Down the Drain

Food Wastes Animal bones, egg shells, coffee grounds, corn cobs, melon rinds/fruit peels, skin, home brewery waste 

Personal Care Products Bandages, condoms, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins/wet wipes

Chemicals/Toxins Automotive fluids, caustic cleaners, harsh detergents, floors stripper, herbicides/pesticides, medications/drugs, paints(oil-based), quaternary ammonia, solvents/thinners

Other Products Cat litter, cigarette butts, cloth towels/rags, film developing waste, metal/plastic objects, modeling clay, paper towels/scraps, plastic bags, rv waste, string/yarn/nylon, sticks/yard waste

3/28/2018 12:09:03 PM

ALL medications, both over the counter and prescription should be turned in to the local unused medication drive that most places have periodically. Local law enforcement frequently sponsor these drives to keep opioids and such off the streets and to help the environment by keeping the drugs out of the environment..

10/17/2017 2:06:39 PM

I didn't see anywhere that mentioned a good septic vent filter to knock down the septic smells that may blow in from the vent pipe. You can put a vent filter on them that works instantly.

1/1/2016 10:49:33 AM

If there is one thing that has to be done, regardless of what your septic system installer says, is that you have, from the house to the tank, your home's septic outflow pipe at a minimum of 6 inch's in diameter, and made from ABS, since PVC is so horribly prone to frost heaving and cracking. Most installer go with the 'local code requirement's' as an excuse to go cheap, and rip you off. Minimum code is an excuse for cheap, and cheap is not what you want for a septic system. Get the septic outflow pipe, from the house to the tank, 6 inch's, to improve flow rate's and allow for the usual holiday's 'family invasion and use of the bathroom's. And tell, not allow for 'Installer's discretion' by the installer's, the installer what you want, and make it a part of the installation contract. Then at least you've got some protection's when ad if the septic tank goes bad. If the installer balk's and cry's 'Well that's not what we do', FIRE THEM, ON THE SPOT, and find a Contractor that will do what you tell them you want done that's over and above the 'local code' excuse. Once the local contractor's start seeing this you'll find those Contractor's that do bid on your septic field project a lot more attentive to what you need, and understand why. Same for using ABS. PVC, in New England, is a joke in septic field's as it shatter's with frost heave. ABS is far more resistant to heaving, and cheaper in the long run as well.



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