Tips for Taking Care of Your Septic Tank and Drain Field

Tips for taking care of your septic tank and drain field can be a valuable resource for homeowners with septic tanks and drain fields. Maintaining a septic tank and drain field should start the day you purchase the home. Maintaining a health system will save homeowners thousands in repair cost over the life of the system.

Many outlying rural sections of the country are located in areas far away from city sewer hookup. They are forced to install on-site waste water treatment systems capable of treating sewage generated by the home.

On-site waste water treatment systems are designed and constructed to specifications determined by the engineered design. On-site septic systems typically consist of a septic tank that will usually have a capacity of 1000 to 2500 gallons. The drain field is also designed to the engineered specification with a typical drain field consisting of approximately 250 feet of lateral drain field.

Maintaining a septic system – Maintaining a septic tank is the most important aspect of having a septic system. Adding a beneficial bacterial septic tank treatment is crucial in preserving the integrity of a septic system. Maintain a septic system with monthly septic tank treatments can extend the life of a septic system by decades.

Over taxing a septic system – The over use of a septic system is probably one of the most common causes of septic system failure. Excessive showering and washing of cloths will all play a part in the over loading of a septic system. Re routing of water is a great idea. Consider constructing a grey water system can save a heavy water load on a septic system.

Tree roots can destroy a system – Never plant on or near a septic tank drain field. Tree roots can destroy a septic system. Tree such as bamboo and the infamous weeping willow can infiltrate a septic system in just a few years with disastrous effects.

Never dispose of sanitary napkins in a septic system – Toilet paper and human waste are the only things that should be flushed down a septic system. Plastic, garbage, cigarette butts and cat litter etc should never be flushed down a septic system. These types of products will never digest creating backups and clogs.

Rain water runoff – Rain water runoff can saturate a septic system in just a few minutes of heavy rain. Divert rain gutters and down spouts away from septic systems and drain fields.

Antibacterial Soaps – Antibacterial hand soaps and toxic cleaners will destroy the beneficial bacterial essential for the operation of the septic. Solid waste that is usually digested by healthy bacteria is forced out into the drain field where the solid matter converts into a bio-mat clogging the 1b and 2b crushed gravel of the septic system drain field.

Maintaining a septic system completely depends on the homeowner and their ability to set in place a septic tank and drain field maintenance treatment schedule. Maintaining a septic system will save you the homeowner thousands in repairs providing uninterrupted service and years of problem free service.

8 Ways to Keep Your Septic System Healthy

The most common sewage disposal system widely used today is the septic tank along with a drain field or leach field. If the soil surrounding your home is suitable, a septic system can usually be installed and will provide many years of hands off sewage disposal. Of course, nothing lasts forever, but, to make sure that your system stays in top shape, these handy tips might get you a few extra years out of an old system and add years to a newer installation.

1) Monitor scum and sludge levels on a yearly basis.

2) Restrict or limit the amount of grease and harsh chemicals from entering the system. Septic systems can handle a small amount of grease provided the septic tank is allowed to germinate maximum healthy enzymes and bacteria.

3) Install water saving shower heads and practice common sense with water use. If legal, install a drywell on your property if you have the room. Drywell’s are a great way to route grey water away from the tank, allowing for maximum bacteria growth in your septic tank and leach field.

4) Don’s pour paints, thinners, harsh chemicals, medicines, oils or other anti bacterial type chemicals down your pipes.

5) Never flush plastics, diapers, cigarettes, sanitary plastics or any other non-biodegradable items. They will get lodged in your drain field or leach lines, causing major problems and blockage down the road.

6) Ease off the garbage disposal. Too much organic load causes high sludge levels which will eventually make way out to your drain field.

7) If your diet consists of high grease foods, be sure to add bacteria to maximize the breakdown and digestation.

8) Utilize the power of septic tank enzymes and bacteria to keep bacteria and enzyme levels high.

Caring for your septic tank and system


Since most people don’t think about their septic system, many systems fail due to their owners thinking everything is running just fine since there aren’t any smells or puddles in the yard. Things may appear fine on the surface, but, there is a fine balancing act going on underground that you should be familiar with to help prevent costly repairs in the future. 

The simplest way to care for your system is to think of it as a compost, but one that is buried underground. Like any compost, organics are added to the septic tank regularly while bacteria breaks down the waste material into water and gases. Like a compost, your septic tank relies on rich, healthy bacteria to continually break down the waste that enters each and every day. While your bacteria colony counts remain healthy and plentiful, most of the time things work out well for many, many years, however, lower or weakened bacteria counts can lead to disaster in a short period of time. 

The key to a healthy septic tank is – keep your bacteria healthy! Simply put, avoid chemicals that kill bacteria in order to allow maximum bacteria counts within your septic tank and throughout your drain field (aka leach field, cesspit, cesspool, lateral lines etc.). How do you accomplish this? It’s simple, pay close attention to what you add to your system, assuring that whatever goes down does not act as a major antibacterial to the healthy bacteria in your tank. Laundry soap is the number 1 killer of all septic systems since many brands kill off enormous amounts of bacteria with each load. Many high capacity machines give a false sense of security since their owners believe that such units only use a few gallons of water, however, many of these newer “low water use” units can use up to 30 gallons of water per full cycle! That might be like adding 30 gallons of gasoline to your system (as far as bacteria is concerned) on a daily bases. 

Seek out “Green” brands that are safer to your bacteria when shopping for laundry soap, dishwasher soap and general household cleaners. Take the time to research the active ingredients contained inside the cleaners that you use most commonly around your home. Some cleaners claim to be ‘great for septic systems’ or ‘safe for septic tanks’ but in reality, they are kind of like ‘Marlboro to Marlboro Lights’ safe. Still a disaster when it comes to bacteria but not quite as deadly as last year’s concoction. 

Remember; treat your septic tank system like a compost. You want the organics to rot away underground and the best way to achieve that is to allow for healthy bacteria to completely overrun the system without having to worry about battling toxic chemicals. Use common sense with water use and fix any leaks quickly to avoid flooding and saturation. Common sense along with bacteria additives that take care of your septic tank can help greatly extend the life of your system while reducing pump out frequency.