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Keep Your Septic System in Super Shape

2013 January 10

By Christina Catanese

With the recent onrush of holiday guests, your septic system probably got a pretty good workout .  And it might not get much recovery time, with football playoffs in full swing, hockey season about to finally start, and the cold days and long nights of winter that beg to be spent indoors with friends and family.

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If you’re among the nearly one in four households served by septic systems, EPA has some “SepticSmart” tips for you to help keep your system in shape:

  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full.  Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products.  Too much water use at once can overload your system, particularly if it hasn’t been pumped in the last couple of years.
  • Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain, which can clog your system, or toxic material, which can kill the organisms that digest and treat waste.
  • Have your septic system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have the tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years.  It can cost $3,000 to $7,000 to repair or replace a malfunctioning system compared to the average $250 to $300 cost to pump a septic system.
  • Don’t flush household products down the toilet.  Dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, coffee grounds and cat litter can clog and potentially damage septic systems.
  • Remind guests not to park or drive on your system’s drainfield because the vehicle weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow causing system backups and floods.

A malfunctioning system, in addition to being costly, can kill native plants and fish and shellfish, as well as reduce property values and potentially pose a legal liability.

A properly maintained system helps keep your family’s drinking water clean, reduces the risk of contaminating local waters, and keeps conversation with your guests focused on more pleasant subjects…like the funniest commercials during the big game.

So while you work on your new year’s resolution to be healthier yourself, resolve to keep your septic system in shape too.  For more information, visit www.epa.gov/septicsmart.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. Master Melvin M. Lusterio permalink
    January 11, 2013

    The Good Force be with you!

    Excellent! Thank you for your advice!

    Live forever and prosper!

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  2. Miller Plante permalink
    January 11, 2013

    For clogging, septic system, plumbing and water supply maintenance use the all-natural http://www.MillerPlante.net Advanced Formula Septic-Helper and Enza Drain Line Cleaner. It has the 8 natural bacteria and enzymes that digest the waste in the tank AND out in the drain field. To reduce your Phosphate and Nitrate levels to Zero coming from your Laundry, use their new All-Natural Enza Wash-Balls. According to the EPA, Chemicals used in the home are the #1 problem polluting water supplies and water wells.

    In 2011, the EPA (TMDL), Mandates that States clean up their water supplies. It mandates new inspections on all septic systems, water wells and with funding, local waterways. A failed inspection would include a slow drain in your leach field, low septic tank bacteria levels or elevated Nitrate levels in your Water Well or local Water Supplies; could require replacement of your entire system for $10K to $80K+ or connect to the city sewer system for $5K to $40K. The new inspections are failing 12% of systems each year and 82% of those older than 1977.

    Septic News Stories: http://www.Twitter.com/MillerPlanteInc
    Join our Facebook Groups: http://www.Facebook.com/Miller.Plante

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  3. jay smith permalink
    January 12, 2013

    We have big problems over here in New York City with Septic Systems due to sandy. we need help.

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