Nearly one quarter of all American households—more than 26 million homes—depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater. Proper septic system care and maintenance is vital to protecting public health and preserving valuable water resources. When homeowners flush and forget about their home’s septic system, it can lead to system back-ups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs, polluted local waterways, and risks to public health and the environment.
During the first annual SepticSmart Week, September 23-27, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging homeowners to get SepticSmart and take action. Proper care and maintenance of septic systems can lead to a big pay off in terms of keeping homeowners and their neighbors healthy and protecting the environment. For homeowners, proper care can also prevent costly repairs or replacement of systems, protect property values, and save water.
During SepticSmart Week, homeowners can do their part by following these SepticSmart tips:
• Protect It and Inspect It: In general, homeowners should have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years.
• Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain, which can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.
• Don’t Overload the Commode: Ask guests to only to put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
• Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Consider fixing plumbing leaks and installing faucet aerators and water-efficient products, and spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system if it hasn’t been pumped recently.
• Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.
EPA’s SepticSmart program promotes proper septic system care and maintenance all year long, helping to help educate homeowners about the need for periodic septic system maintenance and proper daily system use. In addition to helping educate homeowners, SepticSmart also serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments, and community organizations, providing access to tools to help educate their clients and residents.
More information: www.epa.gov/septicsmart and www.onsiteiowa.com.