Maintaining Your Septic System

Properly maintaining your septic system can save you from problems, and expenses. The smaller the amount of wastewater you put through your system, the longer the system will last. Here are ideas for how to manage your system and help it last a long time.

Take shorter showers and use a low-flow shower head. Use faucet aerators in the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Use your dishwasher and washing machine sparingly. Install low-flush toilets in your bathroom.

Use biodegradable toilet paper. Many products are labeled “approved for septic tank use.” Never dispose of coffee grounds, sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, cigarette butts, or disposable diapers in the toilet or sink. Never pour grease, paints, caustic or oily liquids, fuels, cooking fats or motor oils into sinks or toilets.

Keep your system’s drain field clear and intact. Don’t build anything on it. Don’t drive anything on it. Don’t plant any deep-rooted trees or shrubs within 10 feet of your disposal system.

Have your septic tank pumped by a licensed Class F liquid waste hauler at least every 3 years. Never climb into a septic tank yourself. Methane and hydrogen sulfide gases, which are present from the decomposition processes, may cause illness or death.

Record-Keeping is Important

Knowing the location of your septic system is important for managing maintenance, repairs, and protecting the system. Keep all the information about your system in the same place. Your records should include:

  • Copies of all permits and correspondence about the system
  • A map or drawing of the system
  • Detailed records of all maintenance, inspections or repairs
  • Receipts and records of all pumping of your system

Warning Signs

In the House
Slowly draining sinks and toilets
Plumbing backups
Gurgling in the plumbing

In the Yard
Damp soil or ponding over the system
Grass growing faster and greener
Sewage odor near the system

Watching for Problems

A malfunctioning or failed septic system is a nuisance for you. It is also a public health hazard. Repairing or replacing a problem system will protect your family, friends and drinking water.

If you you have a problem with your disposal system or suspect it may be failing, contact a licensed Class E system contractor or a licensed Class H system inspector for help.

If you have any questions, contact the Residential Services Section at 302-739-9947 (in Dover) or 302-856-4561 (in Georgetown).