Septic Systems



Septic Systems


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Septic System DO'S and DON'TS

Disposal Guidelines

There are a number of do's and don'ts that will help ensure a long life and minimal maintenance for your system. As a general rule, nothing should be disposed into any wastewater system that hasn't been ingested, other than toilet tissue, mild detergents, and wash water. Here are some additional guidelines.

Don't flush dangerous and damaging substances into your wastewater treatment system. Specifically, do not flush . . .

bulletExcessive amounts of bath or body oils
bulletWater softener backwash
bulletFlammable or toxic products
bulletHousehold cleaners, especially floor wax and rug cleaners
bulletChlorine bleach, chlorides, and pool or spa products
bulletPesticides, herbicides, agricultural chemicals, or fertilizers

Don't use special additives that are touted to enhance the performance of your tank or system. Additives can cause major damage to other areas in the collection system. The natural microorganisms that grow in your system generate their own enzymes that are sufficient for breaking down and digesting nutrients in the wastewater.

Do collect grease in a container and dispose with your trash. Compost scraps or dispose with your trash, also. Food by-products accelerate the need for septage pumping. Don't ever flush the following down the drain:

bulletEgg shells, cantaloupe seeds, gum, coffee grounds
bulletTea bags, chewing tobacco, cigarette butts
bulletCondoms, dental floss, sanitary napkins, diapers
bulletPaper towels, newspapers, candy wrappers
bulletRags, large amounts of hair
bulletBaby wipes, medicated wipes, cleaning wipes, and wipes made of non-biodegradable material

Don't plumb water softener discharge brine into your wastewater system. (The softened WATER is OK, just not the BRINE that's produced during the regeneration cycle.) Do route the brine around your wastewater system so it discharges directly into the soil. This is a cost-effective solution that ensures the long-term performance of your system and the biological processes that occur inside it. Water softener brine interferes with nitrogen removal. And it degrades treatment by interfering with the settling process inside the tank. Without proper settling, solids, grease, and oils are carried though your system, clogging components. This increases your costs by . . .

bulletRequiring the tank to be pumped more often (at hundreds of dollars per pumpout) bulletRequiring filters to be cleaned more often bulletFouling drainfields and other downstream equipment

Do keep lint out of your wastewater treatment system by cleaning the lint filters on your washing machine and dryer before every load. Installing a supplemental lint filter on your washing machine would be a good precautionary measure. (This normally takes just a few minutes. Lint and other such materials can make a big difference in the frequency and cost of pumping out your septic tank.)

Water Use Guidelines

Don't ignore leaky plumbing fixtures; repair them. A leaky toilet can waste up to 2,000 gallons (7,500 liters) of water in a single day. That's 10-20 times more water than a household's typical daily usage. Leaky plumbing fixtures increase your water bill, waste natural resources, and overload your system.

Don't use excessive amounts of water. Using 50 gallons (200 liters) per person per day is typical. If your household does not practice any of the "water conserving tips" below, you may be using too much water:

bulletTake shorter showers or take baths with a partially filled tub. Be cautious about excessive use of large soaking tubs. bulletDon't let water run unnecessarily while brushing teeth or washing hands, food, dishes, etc. bulletWash dishes and clothes when you have a full load. bulletWhen possible, avoid doing several loads in one day.



The septic system is a sewage treatment and disposal system. A basic system consists of a septic tank and drainage area. All flows from the house are directed by way of a main sewer line to the septic tank. 40% of household sewage is from the toilet, 30% is from bathing, 15% is from laundry and 10% is from the kitchen.

What is a Septic Tank?

The septic tank is a watertight chamber constructed of concrete or poly material. An average size is approximately 1000 gallons to 1500 gallons in capacity. Most septic tanks have one or two compartments. Two compartment tanks, or two single compartment tanks in series, provide better settling of the solids.

Each septic tank has an inspection port over each baffle as well as a manhole access port. The manhole lid needs to be accessed for the tank to be pumped. These can be found at or below the ground surface. Typically you will find 4" diameter plastic lids at the ground surface that are the inspection ports over either of the baffles on the tank and not where the tank is to be pumped through.

The baffles of the tank are one of the most important components in the septic tank. The inlet baffle forces the wastewater from the sewer line down into the tank instead of across the surface of the tank and into the outlet pipe leading to the absorption area. The outlet baffle prevents the scum layer from moving into the soil absorption area. In a properly functioning septic tank the solids and sludge settle to the bottom and accumulate, scum (lightweight materials including paper, fats and greases) rises to the surface and the effluent (liquid) in the tank existing between those layers overflows to the abortion area.

The absorption area (leaching field) uses the ability of the stone and soil to filter and treat the remaining effluent. Odors and gasses from the septic system, that are always present, are vented through pipes on the house roof.

Septic layout plans are in PDF format below.


The slab units have a macerator pump with an alarm in the utility room.

If the alarm goes off that means that the macerator pump is not working and not to run any water or flush the toilets.

There is a circuit breaker for the pump in the same box outside that the sprinkler system circuit breaker is located.

WARNING: When the sprinkler system is drained for the winter it is easy to mistakenly turn off the macerator pump also.


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This site was last updated 05/18/18