Septic System Maintenance

Lawn Coverage

A lawn over a septic system prevents the soil covering the septic system from eroding and maximizes the effectiveness of the septic system through transpiration. Transpiration is the process where plants absorb water through the roots and then give off water vapor through pores in their leaves. An example of transpiration is when a plant absorbs water in its roots. Therefore, a healthy lawn should be maintained above the septic system to keep the system stable and encourage proper evaporation and transpiration of the water which exits the tank and enters the septic fields.

Proper Drainage

Any roof, cellar, footing, or driveway drains which discharge in the direction of the septic system must be re-directed to maintain the integrity of the septic area.  Additionally, any run-off from roadways or hills must be diverted via a curtain drain.

Plantings/Trees Near Septic Area

Do not plant trees or shrubs on top of or within close proximity to the septic area (no closer than 10 feet from the edge of the septic system).  The roots of these plants will seek water and grow into the septic area, specifically the pipes, thus compromising the system by introducing dirt into the gravel and cracking and clogging the pipes.  Plants also cause the septic to be shaded thereby preventing proper evaporation by the sun.

Do Not Overload System

Water softeners, hot tubs and spas should not be discharged into a septic system as they will hydraulically overload the system.  The chemicals in these systems also breakdown concrete septic tanks and cause a scum layer to form in the septic fields which shorten their useful life.

No Construction Equipment on System

Heavy construction equipment must always be kept off the septic system.  Failure to keep such equipment off the system will cause compaction of the soil and gravel and possibly crush the pipes, thus compromising the septic system’s ability to handle waste water flow.

Further Recommendations

To minimize the water flow to the system and lengthen the life of the system, install low flow plumbing fixtures (toilets, faucets, shower heads) and use High Efficiency washers and dishwashers.  Use cleaning products marked “Safe for Septic.”  Kitchen grease, such as cooking oil, should not be put down the drain as it will clog the pipes and require the tank to be pumped more often.