Do’s and Don’ts - Care and Feeding of your Septic System

  • DO have your septic tank pumped and your pump chamber (if you have one) checked and pumped, if necessary, every 3 years on average (refer to our Pumping Frequency Table)
  • DO monitor and control water usage in your household and fix any plumbing leaks or running toilets promptly. A leaky plumbing appliance can overwhelm a dispersal field within a short period of time and significantly contribute to its premature failure.
  • DO add risers, or cribbing, around the septic tank lids so that they are easily lifted without having to dig for them. Especially in the case of an emergency plumbing backup, being able to access the tank quickly means a much more rapid resolution of the problem.
  • DO plant grass over your dispersal field area and around the tank. Grass helps to hold the soil in place and discourages the growth of more aggressive plants (vines, berry bushes, etc.) whose roots can choke dispersal field lines and which make the tank itself much harder to access.
  • DO distribute your household water usage as evenly as possible throughout the week. A load of wash a day is vastly preferable to five loads washed in a single day.
  • DON’T drive over or allow any heavy machinery to be driven over your septic tank OR your dispersal field area. Heavy equipment could break or “saddle” your tank or pipes, and will compact the soil in your dispersal field, thereby destroying its ability to absorb and disperse wastewater.
  • DON’T plant shrubs or trees near the dispersal field area. The roots of some trees such as willows or poplars will travel great distances to reach the nutrient-rich water in your field, and can easily clog the pipes and impede field function.
  • DON’T build any structures such as storage sheds, room additions, tennis courts, driveways, patios, or decks over the dispersal field area. Your dispersal field needs an aerobic (oxygen-rich) environment in which to function, and these structures cut off oxygen flow to the dispersal field.
  • DON’T be persuaded to spend money on septic tank "starters", "enhancers" or "cleaners" in your plumbing system to try and help dispersal field functions. These products are designed mainly to enrich the pockets of those who manufacture and sell them, but they are found to be mostly ineffective and may, in some cases, actually be harmful to your field's performance.
  • DON’T put anything down your drains that either does not break down at all, or takes a long time to do so. Materials such as fats, oils, and grease (sometimes referred to as F.O.G. in our industry) are a menace to septic systems and should be disposed of in the trash. Never allow disposable diapers, tampons or their holders, paper towels, condoms, facial tissues, cat box litter, plastics, cigarette filters, coffee grounds, eggshells, bones, etc., to be flushed down the toilets or washed down the kitchen sink drain.
  • DON’T overuse common household chemicals. Small amounts of solvents, paint or thinners, nail polish remover, or caustic household cleaners can poison the bacteria that septic systems rely on to break down waste materials. Household disinfectants such as bleach or toilet bowl cleaners can be used in moderation without ill effect.
  • DON’T attempt for any reason to clean out your septic tank on your own. There are harmful gases that occur in the tank as a result of the ongoing bacterial action that can quickly overwhelm the unwary. Call a certified maintenance provider to do this work for you.
  • DON’T install a kitchen sink garbage disposer (garburator) unless you are replacing an existing one for which your system was specifically designed. Garburators add thousands of gallons to household water usage and can contribute to early failure in a septic system not designed for such use.
  • DON'T backwash your water softener, if you have one, into your septic system. The salt in the system can damage septic system functions.

If you don’t see an answer to your question here, please call us and we will either answer your question or research the matter to find the answer for you. We are always here to help!

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Qualicum & North:         250-752-2921
Parksville & Nanoose:   250-248-3833
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