Protect your home’s value, your family’s health and our freshwater resources by caring for your septic system.
Inspect it and pump it out.
Your septic system is an important part of your home. It treats the water you use everyday. A failed septic system is very expensive to fix and can be a significant source of ground and surface water contamination. Periodic maintenance will prevent failure of a properly constructed system.
Learn more about keeping your septic system healthy with our Septic System Tip Sheet.
Septic tanks should be inspected every 2 to 3 years. When necessary, have your tank pumped out by a reputable septic tank service contractor, who is required to have a state permit to handle and dispose of the materials.
Find one in the Michigan Septage Haulers Directory. A database of waste businesses, vehicles and land application sites that are currently licensed by the state’s Septage Waste Program.
To keep your septic system functioning properly, avoid flooding the drain field with excess water. Conserve water inside your home and spread out water-intensive activities like showers, dishwashing and laundry. Using water efficiently also saves energy and money.
Avoid harsh chemicals.
Drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and “miracle system cleaners” will kill the bacteria that are necessary to break down sludge in your septic system. Check product labels to see if they are safe for use in septic systems. Check out River Friendly Home Care (below) for alternatives to toxic cleaners.
Use a trash can.
Septic systems are designed for disposal of toilet wastes, tissue, soaps and water used from bathing, laundry and dishwashing. Disposing of improper solids in your septic can cause clogging and failure since the system can’t break down the material. Dispose of solids such as cigarette butts, diapers, coffee grounds, tampons, condoms and grease in your household trash.
Avoid field compaction.
Be sure you know the location of your septic tank and drain field. Never park, drive or build on your tank or drain field. Soil compaction and paving breaks pipes and prevents oxygen from getting into the soil (bacteria need oxygen to break down and treat sewage).
Check for signs of failure.
Look for areas in your lawn that remain moist during dry times. Check for excessive grass or plant growth. If you live near a creek, river or lake, check for excessive plant and algae growth along the shoreline. If you see signs of failure, schedule an inspection and necessary repairs immediately.
- “Would You Know If Your Septic System Needed Surgery?” brochure.
- “Do Your Part – Be SepticSmart” brochure.
- EPA’s SepticSmart program.
- Go to your county’s website to locate septics information from your county’s Public Health Department or Environmental Health Division.
How does my septic system work?
Check out this Septics 101 fact sheet to find out.
Why is it so important to maintain my septic tank?
Find out how e.coli impacts our water here