Things to Avoid with an On-Site Septic System

Inert Materials:
Plastic, rubber, scouring pads, dental floss, kitty litter, cigarette filters, bandages, hair, mop strings, lint, rags, cloth & towels do not degrade in an on-site treatment system. Inert materials will build up solids & lead to system malfunction, clogging or increased pump out frequency.

Paper Products:
Disposable diapers, paper towels, baby wipes, facial tissues, toilet tissue that is lotioned, scented or quilted, moist towlettes, do not dissolve readily in an onsite treatment system. Excessive amounts of toilet tissue will also not decompose. All can lead to system malfunction, back-up or increased pump out frequency.

Food Wastes:
Do not put animal fats & bones, grease, coffee grounds, citrus & melon rinds, corn cobs, egg shells down the sink. Garbage disposal use should be limited to waste that cannot be scooped out & thrown in the trash. Spoiled dairy products & yeasts from home brewery or baking may cause excessive growth of microbes that do not degrade sewage.

Household Products:
Do not flush baby wipes, toilet paper that is lotioned, scented or quilted, female sanitary products, cotton balls, swabs or condoms. Antimicrobial soaps & automatic disinfection tablets (blue, clear or otherwise) may kill the organisms needed to consume waste.

Normal use of over the counter medications do not affect the performance of onsite systems. Do not flush expired medicines/antibiotics into an onsite treatment system. Some prescription medications are known to cause biological disrupt. Among these diseases or conditions are those suffering from bulimia, severe infections (including AIDS), chronic diarrhea, intestinal/colon by-pass or other gastrointestinal conditions & cancer. Oral or intravenous chemotherapy is known to cause severe disruption to the treatment process & will require more frequent pump out intervals or the use of biologically based additives.

Commercial Additives:
There is no evidence to support the use of additives with normally functioning septic systems. Some septic tank additives have been shown to do more harm that good. A normally functioning system should not require additives.

Chemicals & Toxins:
These materials kill the microbes necessary for the biological treatment to occur. Paint, paint thinner, solvents, volatile substances, drain cleaners, automotive fluids, fuels, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, metals, disinfectants, sanitizers, bleach, mop water, floor stripping wastes, excessive user of household chemicals & backwash from Water Softener regeneration.

Laundry Practices:
On-site systems must process the water as it enters the system. Laundry should be spread out over the week, not all run at one time. Excessive use of detergents, especially those containing bleach, can affect system performance. Liquid detergents are recommended over powders. Fabric softener sheets are recommended over liquid softeners. Bleach should be used sparingly & at half the rate indicated on the container.

Clear Water Waste:
From A/C discharge lines, floor drains, gutters, whole house water treatment systems & sump pumps can increase the flow to your treatment system. These flows can at least disrupt, if not destroy your treatment process.

General Tips & Advice

  • Do not dig without knowing the location of your septic tank & leaching bed areas. Digging near your septic system components can result in damage to the tank & leaching bed, which could result in an expensive repair bill.
  • Do not use special additives that “enhance the performance” of your septic system. Additives are not necessary as a properly functioning system has all the natural bacteria & enzymes to digest the wastewater that enters the system.
  • Do not discard items in the sewage treatment system that do not belong there.
  • Do not overload the system beyond design capacity. A septic system is designed to handle a certain amount of sewage daily. Any over use above the design flow will decrease the holding time in the tank. This will result in untreated solids entering the leaching bed & will in time clog the pores of the leaching field. Untreated sewage will also carry pathogenic bacteria, viruses & pollutants in unacceptable amounts.
  • Do not drive over the septic system or use it as a parking or storage area. Driving cars or machinery over your septic system will result in crushing the pipes & compacting the soil thus reducing the water absorbing capacity of it. Even snowmobiles compress the snow cover of the field which will reduce the insulating effect of the snow & could lead to the risk of the pipes freezing.
  • Do not plant trees & shrubs close to the septic bed. Tree roots & shrubs travel significant distances in search of water, especially willows & poplars. Planting trees & shrubs close to or in the septic field will result in the roots growing into the perforated pipes of the septic field & thus causing plugging & damage. A minimum distance of 6.0 metres should be planned for between trees & the outer pipes of the leaching field.
  • Do not connect rain gutters or sump pumps to the septic system. Septic beds are not designed to handle this additional flow.
  • Do not direct furnace condensate & water softener backwash to the septic system. Direct them to leaching pits away from the septic system.
  • Do not change the drainage pattern of the septic bed landscape. All runoff has to be directed away from the septic bed. Swales are used to direct rain water & melting snow away from the leaching bed. Filling them will change the pattern.
  • Do not install automatic sprinklers over the septic bed.
  • Do not change the structure of the house without consulting your septic system designer & the appropriate approval agency. Adding an apartment in the basement, adding plumbing fixtures, changing the usage may result in additional flow that could be detrimental to your septic system. The building code requires that any changes to your domicile be approved PRIOR to work commencement.
  • Do not build ANY structure over your septic system. Patios, tennis courts, swimming pools, driveways, retaining walls, skating rinks etc. shall not be built over ANY part of your septic system.