Just Bought a House With a Septic Tank? Follow These Simple Septic Do's & Don'ts

According to EPA, approximately one in five American households either share a community septic system or have their own septic tank on their property. If you've recently purchased a home with a septic system, you might not be quite sure how to maintain the tank or prevent an unnecessary breakdown. Here are a few simple do's and don'ts for every first time homeowner caring for their onsite septic system:

Do Switch from Toxic Cleansers to More Eco-friendly Products

From bleach to ammonia and your favorite flowery, commercially-manufactured cleansers, there are many products available that will keep your house clean. Unfortunately, many of these products are caustic and can potentially damage your septic system.

Instead, here are a few suggestions and environmentally-friendly replacements for commonly used household cleansers:

  • Skip the chemical drain cleaners, and use a metal snake or plunger instead. Additionally, a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar can also help safely eliminate a nasty clog.
  • Avoid using ammonia, bleach or other harsh cleansers to disinfect surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom and instead, use this simple formula. Create a mixture of one cup white vinegar, one tablespoon of baking soda and two to three drops of your favorite essential oil. Pour the mixture into a plastic spray bottle and use it on clean several surfaces throughout your home.
  • Choose laundry soap that is labeled "zero phosphates." When released into waterways, phosphates encourage algae growth, which can prove deadly to aquatic animals and plants.

Don't Flush Just Anything Down Your Toilet or Sink

If you have a garbage disposal, it is easy to simply cram as much as you can down the sink and watch it swiftly go down the drain. However, you should think twice before putting any of these items down the disposal because they won't only damage the unit, they can also wreak havoc on your septic system:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Sanitary napkins and diapers
  • Paper towels and newspaper

Additionally, if you're in the habit of flushing your old pharmaceuticals—including expired medications—down the drain, it is important to avoid this practice in your new home. These products will make their way from your wastewater treatment equipment to the groundwater, which can prove deadly to wildlife.

Do Pay Attention to Your Landscaping

Before you begin planting trees or making plans for a backyard deck, it is important to keep your septic system requirements in mind. For example, it is vital that you never plant anything besides grass in the drain field. Tree and shrub roots can damage your septic system's pipes.

Also, never pour concrete or build any structures on top of your drain field. As a rule, grass is the only thing that should ever be found on your drain field. The grass is not only attractive, it can also help prevent erosion and help eliminate water from the field.

Don't Attempt to Maintain Your Septic System Alone

Finally, one of the biggest don'ts associated with owning and maintaining an onsite septic system is to attempt maintain it on your own. First off, you should never attempt to clean the tank yourself. A professional has the equipment and gear necessary to safely and effectively eliminate the waste.

According to Inspectapedia, the size of your septic tank and the number of people in your home should dictate how often you should have the tank pumped. Speak with a septic service provider like John C Parmenter Inc. to create a schedule that will help ensure your tank is pumped often enough.

Owning a septic system might seem complicated, but it doesn't have to be. Just remember to reduce your water usage, watch what you put down the toilet and make sure to leave the maintenance and cleaning to the professionals.