SepticSmart Week is a nationwide initiative through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to raise awareness about the need for proper care and maintenance of septic systems.
More than 800,000 onsite sewage disposal systems are currently used in Indiana Local health departments issue more than 15,000 permits per year for new systems, and about 6,000 permits for repairs. EPA recommends that septic systems be inspected and pumped out on a regular basis, at least every three to five years, as failure to maintain a septic system can lead to backups and overflows. This can result in costly repairs, polluted waterways, and risks to public health and the environment. Proper care and maintenance is critical to septic-system function and long-term performance.
Tips for septic maintenance, include:
— Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor, and have their tank pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years. Many septic-system failures occur during the winter holiday season; therefore, EPA encourages homeowners to get their septic systems inspected and serviced now, before inspectors’ schedules fill up around the holidays. Contact the Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association (iowpa.org) for information on certified professional inspectors.
— Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drain field.
— Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. Coffee grounds, dental floss, diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can clog and damage septic systems.
— Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
— Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drain field, which could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.
SepticSmart Week is part of EPA’s year-round SepticSmart program. In addition to educating property owners, the program is an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments, and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents. For more information, visit epa.gov/septicsmart.