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  • Writer's pictureSimona

Septic System Care

A septic system is a delicate biological machine. It functions because of the actions of bacteria and properties of the soil. If not maintained, this biological machine could shut down, a very unpleasant and costly setback. Therefore, it is crucial to care for your septic system by watching what goes down the drain, reducing water use, inspecting regularly, pumping when necessary and protecting your drain field and reserve area.

Do not flush the following items into your septic system:

Coffee grounds, paper towels, disposable diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins, pesticides, cigarette butts, condoms, fats, grease and oils. Paints, disinfectants, varnishes, photographic chemicals, waste oils, pills and unused medication. Poisons, dental floss, medicine, kitty litter, paint thinners.

Septic DO’s and DON’Ts:

Do have your septic system inspected every three years if it is a conventional gravity system and annually for all other systems.

Do take the FREE septic 101 class on line or in person from Island County Dept of Health.

Do talk with a professional to see if your system would benefit from having a filter installed.

Do spread wash cycles out over the week rather than washing many loads on one day.

Do become familiar with the location of your septic system components.

Do have your septic tank pumped out as needed.

Do use water-conserving devices. Low flush toilets and showers heads are commonly available.

Do remove or prevent trees with large root systems growing near the disposal field.

Do maintain grass over the disposal field to use some of the water and to prevent erosion.

Do keep surface water runoff away from the disposal field.

Do not wait for signs of failure. Inspect your system regularly.

Don’t pay $10,000 to $20,000 for a new system because of lack of maintenance.

Don’t overload the system with high volumes of water. Septic systems require time for the solids to settle to the bottom or they may be flushed into the drain field causing your system to fail.

Don’t allow large amounts of fats, oils, grease, chemicals or solvents to enter the system.

Don’t cover the tank or drain field with asphalt, concrete or any impermeable material.

Don’t use any septic tank additives. They are not beneficial and even with additives, regular pumping of solids is still required.

Don’t connect basement sump pump to the on-site system.

Don’t connect backwash from water treatment devices directly to the on-site system without professional advice.

Don’t enter a septic system without proper ventilation. Sewer gases can be fatal.

Don’t allow vehicles or heavy equipment to drive over or park on the disposal field. This may compact the soil and crush the piping.

Don’t put in a separate pipe to carry wash waters to a side ditch or woods.

You can also gather more info at the Island County webpage here


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