Septic System Maintenance - Paint

Septic Systems and Paint, Paint, Paint

We have seen many septic failures in the course of inspecting systems for property sales. Often there is not a clear cause of the septic failure.  Many septic failures result from a combination of the activites on the Don't List.  Nevertheless, there are many instances where paint was a major contributor to the septic failure.  Paint may even be the main cause of septic failure for new systems.  During septic system inspections, paint may be visible on the septic tank outlet filter (if one is present) and in the D-box.  Every household does interior painting some time, especially new houses.  Washing off paint brushes and paint trays in sinks that drain to the septic system will plug and fail the drain field.   Wash your brushes outside using a yard hose.  

Most people have very little control over the interior painters they hire.  Our recommendations:

  • Before the painters start, instruct the painters on proper clean-up procedures to use at your house. 
  • To make sure they follow your instructions, turn the water supply off to all interior faucets while the hired painters are in the house. This forces the hired helpers to wash painting implements outside.
  • If the water must stay on, pump the septic tank before the painters start.  Pump the tank again, when all painting is complete.  This essentially uses the septic tank volume to collect all paint contaminated wastewater for off-site disposal and protects your drain field from plugging.