Do you have one of these in your yard?
You do if you are one of the 535,000 homes or 10,000 businesses in Minnesota that rely on septic systems instead of city sewage treatment plants to handle wastewater from toilets, sinks and showers.
If you are like most homeowners, you probably never give much thought to what happens when waste goes down your drain. Many septic system owners assume that as long as their used water “goes away,” their system must be working properly.
But what you don't know can hurt you.
Only regular maintenance and evaluation of the system can ensure that it is actually treating your sewage. And a poorly functioning septic system is a threat to human health and the environment because it may not remove pathogens, nutrients and other chemicals from the used water before it enters our groundwater.
Follow these tips to keep your septic system in shape:
- Have your system inspected every three years by an MPCA-licensed maintainer or inspector. And have your tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years.
- Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain, which can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield. You can collect the grease in a metal can (soup cans work great), and once the grease has cooled and solidified, put it in the trash for disposal.
- Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. Coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, cigarette butts, etc. should go in the trash, not down the drain.
- Don't park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.
- Be water efficient and spread out water use. Too much water at once can overload a system if it hasn’t been pumped recently.