With toilet paper being the hot recent topic…and families sequestered in their homes, I thought it may be good timing to pass along some septic tips to help you maintain an important and expensive component of your home:

  • Remember “The 3 Ps of septic; “Pee, Poop and (toilet) Paper!” These are the only things that should be flushed down your toilet. Note: toilet wipes, Q-tips, feminine products, etc. should not be put down a toilet and end up in your septic tank. 
  • A Septic System consists of 2 major parts; the septic tank and the leach field (refer to diagram below) and there are tips for maintaining and increasing the longevity of each.   Keep in mind that a septic tank’s best friend is bacteria and a leach field’s best friend is oxygen.
  • Toilet paper should ideally be single-ply and biodegradable which will require less water to break down and will dissolve much faster, making it a good choice for use with a septic system. 
  • Paints should not be washed down your sink.  Instead, wash brushes in an outside spigot or throw them away.  The cost of a paint brush is much less expensive than replacing or installing a new leach field. Paint may clog your leach field.
  • Grease and fats should be disposed of in the trash, not down your sink.  For the same reasons above.
  • Liquid, septic-safe detergents should be used for dishwashers and laundry. Granular detergents can clog your system. 
  • Laundry washing should be spaced apart and not all done the same day. Otherwise you can saturate/stress your leach field. 
  • Septic Inspectors will advise that water softener systems should not back flush into a septic tank. The salt from the softener system will decay the concrete tank. 
  • Septic tanks should be pumped every 1-3 years depending on the number of occupants in your home and your usage. Consult with a septic pumping company.  And, the baffle should be hosed down/cleaned every 6 months.
  • Leach field – treat this area like sacred ground!   Do not plant anything on top of the leach field and do not place anything heavy on it or drive over it or you may crush the bed/field. Those candy cane pipes are sometimes recommended to help the leach field “breathe” and are now available in granite posts and birdbath styles. Or paint the white “candy cane” pipe green or brown to blend in with your landscape. 

I hope you all have plenty of our latest commodity, toilet paper!   

Septic System Diagram; Septic Tank & Drain/Leach field


Note: These tips are shared based on my attendance at numerous septic inspections and  I do not represent myself as an expert in this area.  Consult with a septic inspector or septic pumping company for expert/professional advice.