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Basic Septic Maintenance

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

Follow this simple list of do’s and don’ts to extend the life of your septic system and avoid embarrassing and costly problems.


  • Have your septic tank inspected and pumped regularly. The Kent County Health Department recommends a frequency of 2-3 years depending on the size of your household, frequency of entertaining, and regular use of a garbage disposal. (Assume every 2-3 years for a typical family of four.) Pumping your septic tank is the single most important thing you can do to protect your system. If the buildup of solids in the tank gets too high and solids are pushed into the drainfield, this could clog and strain the system to the point where a new drainfield is necessary.

  • Keep a detailed record of repairs, cleanings, inspections, and maintenance. Pass these on to the next homeowner.

  • Learn the location of your septic system and drainfield. Keep a sketch handy for service visits. If your system has a flow diverter valve, learn its location and turn it once a year. Flow diverters can add many years to the life of your system.

  • Conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated and filtered by your system. Doing laundry over several days puts less stress on your system.

  • Repair any leaking faucets or toilets. To detect toilet leaks, add several drops of food dye to the toilet tank and see if the dye bleeds into the bowl.

  • Divert down spouts and other surface water, such as from driveways and hillsides, away from your tank and drainfield. Excessive water burdens the drainfield.

  • Keep your septic tank access lids accessible for inspections and cleaning.

  • Install risers (access extensions between the tank access lid and ground level), if necessary.

  • Take leftover hazardous household chemicals to your approved hazardous waste collection center for disposal. Use bleach, disinfectants and drain and toilet bowl cleaners sparingly.

  • Grow grass above the drainfield to provide oxygen. Oxygenated bacteria (aerobic) accelerates waste conversion to liquid.

  • To accelerate the growth of desirable aerobic bacteria we strongly recommend using Bio-Clean, a proven system additive that adds enzymes and bacteria that convert scum and waste to liquid.



  • Never flush paper towels, newspaper, wrapping paper, rags, sanitary napkins, disposable diapers or sticks into the system.

  • Never allow large, irregular, intermittent or constant volumes of clear water into the system as with a leaking toilet or faucet.

  • Never allow discharge from water softeners to enter the system. Heavy salt content can harm essential bacteria and corrode the concrete tank.

  • Don't allow anyone to drive or park over any part of the system. The area over the drainfield should be left undisturbed with only a mowed grass cover.

  • Avoid planting anything over the drainfield except grass. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs may clog and damage your drain lines.

  • Don't use a garbage disposal, or at least limit its usage. Disposals increase the solids burden to your tank by 50%, so more frequent cleaning is suggested.

  • Don't use your toilet or drains as a trash can by dumping non-degradables down them. Also, don't poison your septic system and the groundwater by pouring harmful chemicals down the drain. Non-degradables bulk up your tank. Poisons can kill the beneficial bacteria that treat your wastewater.

  • Non-degradables and poisons include: coffee grounds, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, cigarette butts, fats, grease or oil, paints, thinners, photographic solutions, antibiotics, dental floss, kitty litter, tampons, condoms, paper towels, varnishes, waste oils and pesticides, gasoline, oil, paint, paint thinner, pesticides, antifreeze, etc

  • Never allow vehicles to drive across or park on the septic tank or drainfield. The tank could collapse and the drainfield’s soil could become compacted, shortening its life.

  • Don't use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Use boiling water or a snake to open clogs.

  • Don't use excessive amounts of commercial bathroom cleaners. Use a mild detergent or baking soda.

  • Don’t make unauthorized repairs or enter a septic tank-- toxic gases from the tank can kill. If your system develops problems, get advice from your county health department or contact us.

  • Do not dispose of items that will destroy the natural digestion process of your septic system or overuse the drainfield with excessive water. If you adhere to these few simple rules, your septic system will prove to be a safe and economical onsite method for disposing of your home’s wastewater.

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