Do’s and Don’ts to Prolong the Life of Your Septic System


Living in the country comes with many rewards, but also with more responsibilities.

Our water may come from a tap, but we must also concern ourselves with where it comes from and where it goes from there. As is often the case, investing in a bit of prevention can save the time, money and inconvenience involved in replacing a failed system.

Improperly functioning septic systems present environmental hazards by degrading local water supplies and can reduce your property values. Here are some valuable tips to extend the longevity of your system and take pressure off your wallet:



do familiarize yourself with the location of your system

do keep an “as built” system diagram in a safe place for reference

do divert surface water away from your leaching bed

do pump out your tank on a regular basis (3-5 years)

do repair leaky plumbing fixtures

do conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated

do replace old toilets with low-flush models

do keep lint out of your septic system by cleaning the lint filter on your washing machine

do keep the tank access lid secure to the riser all the time

do keep accurate records of septic system maintenance and service calls



don’t flush hazardous chemicals, paint, cigarette butts, sanitary products, or pharmaceuticals

don’t use a garbage disposal or garburator

don’t plant trees or shrubs too close to the system or leaching bed

don’t use special additives that are touted to enhance the performance of your tank or system

don’t dig without knowing the location of your septic system

don’t drive over your tank or leaching bed

don’t EVER enter a tank – gases and lack of oxygen can be FATAL

don’t connect rain gutters, storm drains or allow surface water to drain into a sewage system

don’t leave interior faucets on to protect water lines during cold spells — insulate your faucets and plumbing

don’t connect water softeners to your system, the salt content can destroy the bacteria and tank and can overload the system when backwashing

These tips were provided by Denis Orendt, past President of the Ontario Association of Sewage Industry Services and who provided this information in advance of his workshop in conjunction with Kawartha Conservation’s Rainwater Harvesting workshop held on March 29th. KG

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