A Guide to Basic Maintenance on Septic Systems

Part of being a homeowner is maintenance. Unfortunately a lot of homeowners forget about the maintenance on their septic systems. Here in Wisconsin, homeowners are reminded every 3 years to have their system pumped and inspected. But what can be done between pumpings to keep the septic system in good shape?  Here are some tips:

Beware of excessive water use or leaky fixtures. The more the system has to work to keep up with a home’s usage, the quicker it will need attention.

Some clean-water source hookups, such as the sump-pump, can be routed away from the septic. But make sure it doesn’t dispense near the drainfield, adding unnecessary saturation to that area.  Keep down-spouts away from this area as well.

Be aware of improper landscaping around the tanks and drainfield.  Contact a local knowledgeable landscaper and/or septic service company for suggestions on this.

Avoid excessive use of anti-bacterial cleaners and strong chemicals that find their way down the lines in the sinks, tubs, and toilets.  These affect the healthy bacteria in the septic system that it needs in order to do its job.  And also realize that medications affect the septic system too.  Using a bacterial additive for the system can be very beneficial in these situations.

Keep up with regular maintenance by a licensed pumper. They should be emptying the tanks and looking over all the components, including the drainfield or mound, to make sure all looks good.


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31 Responses to A Guide to Basic Maintenance on Septic Systems

  1. I really appreciate you mentioning how landscaping effects septic systems. The thought of designing my landscaping around my septic tank should be considered. We are moving into a home that has a septic system, so we want to make sure we know how to maintain it. I also want to be sue that I know where to find help for repairs if needed too.

  2. Jane Ambrose says:

    My husband and I have never had our septic system checked, and we aren’t even really sure how it works. Before reading this, I had no idea that an overuse of anti-bacterial cleaners can cause issues on the system. It seems like this is something we should have someone come look at and help us out with. Thank you for the information!

  3. I like that you recommend being wary of excessive water usage. It makes sense that this could be good because overusing the system could result in premature wear. Thanks for the tips; this could be particularly helpful for commercial applications where failure can cause serious financial damage in terms of time wasted and issues.

  4. It was helpful to know that a septic tank should be pumped and inspected every 3 years. My husband and I are looking at homes to buy, many of them being on a septic tank. We want to know how to properly maintain one, in case we do buy a home with one. Thanks for the great information!

  5. Thanks for mentioning that you should always be sure to ask a landscaper about how your landscaping will affect your septic tank. It makes sense that you would want to be extra careful with the features surrounding it. I am getting a septic system for the first time, and I want to make sure IU can care for it. I will definitely keep these tips in mind, thanks for sharing!

  6. Braden Bills says:

    One of my neighbors had some problems with their septic system and it sounded like it was a nightmare! It makes sense that I would want to take good care of it. I’ll make sure that I avoid doing too much landscaping work around the tanks. It would also be a good idea for me to get a professional to pump it out every once in a while!

  7. Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I just moved into a new home with a septic tank so we’re looking for ways to maintain it. I like that you suggest looking for improper landscaping around the tank itself. The last thing we want is for the tank to fall or roll over so we’ll have to contact someone to make sure the landscaping is in order. Thanks for the tip!

  8. Ashley Turns says:

    Thank you for telling us to avoid using too many cleaning products with strong chemicals, since they can kill some of the healthy bacteria our septic tank needs. We are planning to have our septic tank have maintenance done on it to get rid of clogs soon and want to know some of the ways we can properly treat it so we won’t have to have it pumped to often. Now we know not to pour too many anti-bacterial cleaners into anything with a drain.

  9. I liked that you had mentioned the importance of understanding the landscaping surrounding the tanks and drain field to make sure you don’t have anything draining into it. My wife and I had recently moved into a home that is a bit older and it has a septic tank. I’m worried that there might be a problem with the tank so I might just have to have someone come out and inspect the septic tank as well as check on the surrounding drains.

  10. Thank you for going over some tips for taking care of a septic system. You mentioned to be aware of improper landscaping around the tanks. I’m kind of curious to learn more about this, and what to look for to make sure that everything is in order.

  11. Thanks for your advice to check that there are no leaks in your septic system. I appreciate your comment to use chemicals that can be flushed or drained. My father has a farm, and he is considering looking into professionals to perform septic inspection since he lacks the time and experience to do it himself

  12. Raisa Delima says:

    Our septic tank system is really starting to smell, and I’m noticing the improper landscaping you talked about in this article, so I can see how we definitely need to get a specialist to come help us. We are holding a housewarming party in just a few weeks and we want to have it out on the lawn but there’s no way we can with this issue. I hope we can get a septic tank specialist to come clean it for us before our party!

  13. Marisol says:

    I am glad that you mention that there needs to be healthy bacteria in your septic tank. I will definitely read some reviews and find a good bacteria to add to mine. I would hate to have a septic emergency!

  14. Katie Dunn says:

    I just moved into a house that has a septic tank, and so I’m glad that you mentioned avoiding strong chemicals. I tend to use a lot of bleach when I clean, and so I think that I will start using more eco-friendly ingredients. Do you think that vinegar would be a good cleaning substitute that would be good for the septic system?

    • Thank you for your feedback on our post. Regarding your question about using vinegar to clean, it is a good alternative without the extreme effects that bleach has. Of course, everything in moderation. Some customers will do a heavy-duty cleaning with bleach once a month and use less harsh cleaners in-between those times, while using a bacterial-additive every month to help keep their system healthy.

  15. Becca Holton says:

    That point about landscaping was educational. I’m planning on having some landscaping done soon. I’ll have to make sure to talk to a septic service company for any suggestions, so I can avoid any problems.

  16. Sam Wilkins says:

    I never knew that excessive water use could lead to septic issues. My brother is notorious for taking super long showers. We might want to see if we can convince him to cut them down soon.

  17. andrewss says:

    Thank you for going over some tips for taking care of a septic system. You mentioned to be aware of improper landscaping around the tanks. I’m kind of curious to learn more about this, and what to look for to make sure that everything is in order. …. thanks

  18. I appreciate your warning on not letting it dispense near the drainfield. I can see why this would be important so as to not flood the area. I’ll have to remember your tips if I ever need to work with a septic tank.

  19. Thanks for the advice about getting a septic professional when you’re planning to landscape around a wastewater system. My husband wants to install a pond in our yard, but I’m worried that it will affect the septic tank. Maybe we can ask a professional service their advice about where to put the pond.

  20. Steele says:

    Great tips! I knew that too many anti-bacterial cleaners can even become dangerous for our health killing healthy bacteria, but I had no idea that medications can affect septic systems as well! My husband and I have just moved into another house and realizing how important clean water is I want to keep the septic system there in proper condition. Thanks!

  21. Silas Knight says:

    Thanks for the great septic tank maintenance tips. I didn’t realize that strong cleaners could be a problem for the tank, but what you said makes sense. We’ll need to stop using harsh toilet cleaners every week!

  22. Kate Welling says:

    I recently moved to a home with a septic tank and want to ensure I keep up the proper maintenance on it. I agree with your tip about avoiding too many chemicals because I have seen others do that and ruin their septic tanks. I will be sure to have a professional regularly check our septic tank to keep it working efficiently.

  23. I hadn’t thought that improper landscaping might be detrimental to a septic tank. Having a professional come and install it in a proper location as well as do the regular maintenance checks would prevent easily avoided problems. I will have to look more into installing septic tanks to avoid future disasters, thank you for the information.

  24. Before my wife and I took a leap of faith and moved into our first home, I had no idea what a septic tank was to be completely honest. What you said about contacting an expert about checking the landscape around the septic tank is really important because you do not want to dig into the tank and damage it in any way shape or form. Just like you said, regular maintenance by a professional is optimal and the best way to go about it. Thanks again!

  25. I really liked how you explained that strong chemicals can actually ruin your septic system by killing the healthy bacteria! I would have never known that if it wasn’t for this article! That makes me think twice about what I clean my drains with! I know I am always using heavy duty chemicals! Thanks so much for sharing this! I am going to use this information when I buy new cleaning products for my home!

  26. Sariah says:

    We want to make sure that our septic systems are well-maintained to avoid unnecessary damage to the environment. Thank you for the tips on what can be done between pumpings to keep our system in good shape. Much appreciated!

  27. I think your suggestion of hiring a licensed pumper to regularly check the septic tank is that best way to keep it functioning properly. Licensed professionals know how to do a certain job better than anyone, and they are more reliable. I think it’s better than trying to do it by yourself and getting your hands dirty. Thanks for the tips. I’ll be contacting a professional ASAP to help me out with it.

  28. Dan Moller says:

    Thanks for helping me understand basic septic system maintenance. I didn’t know that septic systems should be pumped every 3 years, we commonly underestimate the damage we could get if we do not properly maintain our systems. I understand now the reason why we are experiencing swampy areas around the tank. I should probably contact a professional septic service to check up on my system.

  29. Marcus Coons says:

    I’m glad you mentioned how you need to be careful when flushing medication down your drains when having a septic tank. It is important to remember that taking the time to consult with a professional can help you find the best way to maintain your septic system. Personally, I would want to make sure I understand how my septic pump works in order to take the best care of it.

  30. Bobby Saint says:

    I totally agree that you should always be aware of possible leaks and drips on your septic system to prevent water damage. Early detection can reduce the cost of repair and will get your system up and running again. If you ever suspect any leaks in your septic system, it is recommended that you contact a professional to inspect it as soon as possible. They should be able to provide the appropriate resolution to your problem. I would definitely keep this in mind if I ever encounter the same issue. Thanks.

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