Septic System Maintenance - The Don't List

Damage Prevention ... show some respect

Please read through the whole list to prevent damage to your septic system.  Items in bold are emphasized as the most common problems.  Using the toilet as a trash receptacle is one of the most common problems.  If it is not human body waste or toilet paper, it should not go in the toilet

A video prepared by the City of Spokane and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) evalutes some common toilet disposal errors that include: facial tissues, flushable wipes, dental floss, ear swipes (Q-tips), panty liners, tampons, and kitty litter.  This video was prepared to let people know that these items can plug a city sewer or treatment plant pump.  These problems are even greater for a septic system due to the smaller pipelines (and pump, if you have one).  Watch "Will it flush" video.

Protecting Your Septic System

  • Don’t allow vehicles to drive over or park on the any part of the septic system.
  • Don’t install any impervious cover over your drain field, such as pavement, plastic barriers, swimming pools, etc.
  • Don’t install a garbage disposal on a septic system that is not designed to accommodate one.
  • Don’t discharge backwash flow from water treatment systems (filters, conditioners, or softeners) to your septic system. These discharges to septic systems are forbidden in many states, and may also cause septic system failure.  Any piped connection from the water supply to your sewer system may contaminate your drinking water.  These cross connections take many forms.  Do-it-yourselfers beware.
  • Don’t connect basement (groundwater/rainwater) sump pumps to your septic system
  • Don’t allow rapid draining of large volumes of water into your septic system, like from a hot tub, large Jacuzzi tub, or pools.
  • Don’t use your sink or toilet as a trash receptacle.  Don’t dispose of  non-degradable items to your septic system including disposable diapers, birth control devices, hygiene products, plastics, paper, cigarette butts, rubber, metals, foil, wood, etc. 
  • Don’t flush anything down your toilet that is not fecal matter, urine (or other bodily fluids), or toilet paper.
  • Don’t dispose of any silt or clay type particles to your septic system including artist clay, children’s clay, kitty litter, plaster, joint compound, and floor wash water. ...more
  • Don’t allow any paint to enter your septic system, not even from washing off paint brushes.  See Paint in Septic System.
  • Don’t allow any poisons to enter your septic system including motor oil, anti-freeze, paint thinner, strong acids or alkali, toxic cleaners, disinfectants, etc.
  • Don’t allow high strength solvents or degreasing agents to enter your septic system; this may even apply to some hand wash soaps.
  • Don’t introduce commercial septic tank additives to your septic system without first discussing the additive with your septic system designer.  Some of these items may damage your system.