Do’s and Don’ts for Maintaining a Septic System

maintaining a septic system

Homebuying today is a different beast than just a few years ago. Historically high demand and low inventory have created an incredibly hot market, and a huge uptick in remote work has buyers considering homes farther from city centers. 

Unfortunately, giving up the hustle and bustle of the city for the quiet privacy of less crowded spaces often means giving up the connection to a city sewer. The idea of maintaining a septic system can seem so daunting that some buyers avoid it at all costs, but it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. In fact, the process can be so simple that it becomes a non-factor in your buying decisions once you understand how they work and the care they require.

What Really Goes into Maintaining a Septic System

In the end, protecting and ensuring the proper function of your septic system boils down to reminding a few key do’s and don’ts. 


  • Be Careful What You Flush – Just because it fits doesn’t mean it should be flushed. Your septic system is designed to separate solid waste from liquid, not process things that slowly break down. This means it’s never a good idea to flush menstrual care and family planning products, cigarette butts, cotton swabs or anything besides waste and toilet paper. 

  • Read Labels – Speaking of toilet paper, it’s a good idea to read the labels before you load your cart. While most toilet tissue on the market is marked “septic-safe,” it’s still wise to be sure.
  • Be Careful with Chemicals – While disinfecting your home is important, so is protecting the delicate bacterial balance essential to proper septic system function. Flushing or pouring large quantities of harsh cleansers, especially antimicrobial ones like bleach, can definitely wreak havoc with your septic system. The drain or the toilet is not the place to dispose of household chemicals.

  • Be a Team Player – Just like most other major systems and equipment in your home, maintaining a septic system means working with professionals to stay on top of inspections and routine care. Ideally, you should have your system inspected every three years by a licensed professional.


  • Strain the System – Running the dishwasher and the washing machine while one adult showers and the other bathes the kids is more than a strain on your water heater. Concentrated use of the drains in your home introduces liquid waste into your septic system at a higher than ideal rate and can be a serious strain. Staggering showers and water-consuming appliance use is always the best practice for maintaining a septic system. 
  • Disturb the Drain Field – The drain field is a vital part of your septic system, even though it looks like any other part of your lawn. Knowing where your system and drain field are located lets you ensure no one parks or drives over the area because this can damage drain lines. 
  • Plant Trees with Abandon – Trees are a boon to your property in many ways, but it’s important to be mindful of where they’re planted. Too close to your septic system and the root system of trees and shrubs can invade. Be sure you’re not planting anything with deep root systems on or near your drain field.

With a tiny bit of extra attention, maintaining a septic system is easy and painless. Avoid messy backups and clogs by working with knowledgeable pros. Ready for an inspection, repair or advice? Sunset Septic can help.

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