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Be Septic Safe

Septic systems harness the power of microbes and soils to treat wastewater. A well-maintained septic system can last up to 30 years and keep you, your family, and your community healthy! A failing septic tank can spread disease as sewage backs up into your home, your neighbors’ yards, or into a nearby water body. Be septic safe and keep your septic system running smoothly by:

  • regularly inspecting and pumping out your septic system.
  • protecting the tank and the drainfield from damage.
  • following septic system best practices by being aware of materials entering the septic system.
A septic system professional pumping out a septic tank. Photo used with permission from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ©2017.

A septic system professional pumping out a septic tank.
Photo used with permission from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ©2017.

Call a licensed septic system professional to inspect your septic system every one to two years and pump it out every three to five years. Inspections and pump outs can happen on the same service call. Regular inspections help you identify and address small problems before they become large issues and prevent septic systems from becoming too full to function efficiently.

Protect your tank and drainfield to prevent clogs, leaks, and broken sewage pipes. Know their locations and mark them! Never drive or park any equipment over them and keep the drainfield free from structures and woody vegetation. For more information on landscaping your drainfield see, HGIC 1726, Landscaping Over Septic Drain Fields.

Finally, follow best practices for septic systems and know what’s going down your drains. Certain items can clog the system or disrupt the microbial community needed to treat wastewater. Additives and other materials such as yeast, sugar, and raw meat do not improve the system’s functions or reduce the need for regular inspections. Other items to keep out of the system include paper towels, flushable wipes, and cooking oil. You can find a longer list of non-septic-safe materials and more information on keeping your septic system healthy on the EPA’s SepticSmart website.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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