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Septic System Do’s and Don’ts

  • 1.

    DO pump your septic tank once every 3 to 5 years.

  • 2.

    DO use water efficiently to avoid overloading the system. Be sure to repair leaky faucets or toilets and use high-efficiency fixtures.

  • 3.

    DO keep the soil over your system slightly mounded to help surface water run-off.

  • 4.

    DO landscape properly. Dense grass cover and shallow-rooted plants are beneficial to a drainfield. Tree and shrub roots can cause damage.

  • 5.

    DO keep all automobiles, livestock, and cement off the drainfield.

  • 6.

    DO mark the boundaries of your drainfield as a reminder.

  • 7.

    DO learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance records.

  • 8.

    DO keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance activities.

  • 9.

    DO check with the Health Department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can harm your system.

  • 10.

    DO recycle household hazardous waste by contacting the St. Clair County Environmental Services Department, 6779 Smiths Creek Road, Smiths Creek, (810) 367 – 3061.

  • 11.

    DO moderately use commercial cleaners and laundry detergents. Consider cleaning with a mild detergent or baking soda.

  • 1.

    DON’T use chemicals to clean or “sweeten” your system, except on the advice of the Health Department.

  • 2.

    DON’T use a kitchen garbage disposal unit. Use can add large quantities of solids requiring the need for more frequent pumping.

  • 3.

    DON’T put toxic household wastes down the drain. Avoid fats, solvents, oils, disinfectants, paints, chemicals, pesticides, motor vehicle fluids and poisons.

  • 4.

    DON’T drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. This can compact the soil in your drainfield and damage the pipes.

  • 5.

    DON’T fertilize the soil over a drainfield.

  • 6.

    DON’T stockpile snow or soil on your drainfield.

  • 7.

    DON’T allow downspouts to drain onto your drainfield.

  • 8.

    DON’T enter a septic tank chamber. Poisonous gases and the lack of oxygen can be fatal.

  • 9.

    DON’T empty water from swimming pools or hot tubs into your septic system.

  • 10.

    DON’T treat your system like a garbage can. Avoid dental floss, coffee grounds, cigarette butts, paper towels, and diapers.

  • 11.

    DON’T drain your water softener or sump pump to your septic system.

Warning Signs of a Failure!

1 Odors, surfacing sewage, wet spots, or lush vegetation in the drainfield area 1 Plumbing or septic tank back-ups 1 Slow-draining fixtures, not due to a local clogging 1 Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system

When a System Fails

Do not wait for the system to fail before pumping the septic tank. Once a system fails, it is usually too late to pump the tank. Do not place more soil over a saturated drainfield; this does not fix the system and effluent may soon surface again. Do not pipe the sewage to a road ditch, storm sewer, or nearby body of water. This is illegal and creates a health hazard by polluting fishing, swimming and drinking water. Do:

Contact the St. Clair County Health Department Division of Environmental Health (810) 987-5306 Hours: 8am – 4:30pm, Monday – Friday www.stclaircounty.org/offices/health

To report an illicit discharge or illegal dumping, call: 877 – 504 - SWIM

A Guide to Your Septic System

St. Clair County Health Department

Your septic system is your responsibility!

Households and businesses that are not served by public sewers depend on onsite wastewater treatment systems to treat and dispose of their wastewater. Wastewater treatment systems are most commonly known as septic systems.

Management is the key to a lasting septic system!

Septic systems can provide safe, environmentally-sound treatment of your home or business’s wastewater. However, living with a septic system requires a little more responsibility than being connected to a city sewer.

This guide provides information on septic systems and how to care for and maintain your system. It also serves as a folder in which to store vital information about your system. This should be kept with other documents about your home or business, and property.

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