On-Site Septic systems (OSS) are designed to keep harmful sewage pathogens in the ground, protecting your family, pets and visitors. However, if not properly maintained, septic systems can lead to untreated sewage leaking into your yard and surface and groundwater, which can:
• Carry harmful pathogens that spread disease
• Impact drinking water wells
• Leach pollution and bacteria into nearby lakes or streams, including phosphorus that promotes algae growth
Since septic systems are often out of sight and out of mind, people may have systems that pose a threat to their health and could pollute nearby lakes, streams, or groundwater. It’s very important to have your septic system regularly inspected.
How often should my septic system be inspected?
That depends on what kind of septic system you have.
A gravity OSS system, that consists of just a septic tank and a drainfield, should be inspected every 3 years.
A more complex OSS system, like one that has a pump and pressure tank should be inspected every year.
We recommend having your tank pumped every 5 years.
Dos and Don’ts of a Septic System
DO call a septic service provider if you smell foul odors or find wet spots or leaking sewage near the septic tank or drainfield.
DO keep deep-rooted plants away from the septic tank, pipes and drainfield. Roots are drawn to the moisture and nutrients and will grow into pipes and underground components.
DO keep your drainfield and reserve area clear any structures, pavement, livestock, irrigation, sprinklers and stormwater infiltration systems.
DO plant grass or keep existing native vegetation over your drainfield, these are the best covers.
DO use water in your house wisely: Fix leaks, use water-saving fixtures, space dishwashing and laundry loads throughout the week.
DON’T drive across or park over your septic tank, drainfield or reserve area. You’ll compact the soil, which hampers its ability to filter water back into the ground.
DON’T cover your drainfield with plastic sheeting, bark, gravel or other fill.
DON’T plant a vegetable garden over or near the drainfield.
DON’T direct any surface water drainage toward the septic system, drainfield or reserve area.
DON’T drain a hot tub near the septic tank or drainfield.
How Do I Know Where My Septic System is Located?
If you don’t know where your septic system is, contact us to request a copy of your As-Built Record Drawing. If one is on file, we can send you a copy. To request your property’s as-built records you’ll need to submit a public record request. More information about public record requests can be found on our website here:
- OSS Operation and Maintenance FAQs
- Understanding and Caring for Your Mound System (PDF)
- Understanding and Caring for Your Pressure Distribution System (PDF)
- Understanding and Caring for Your Septic System (PDF)
- Proper Landscaping On and Around Your Septic System
- Septic Systems (On-site sewage systems)
- Basics of Septic Systems, Septics 101 Video
- Caring for Your Septic System
- Do-It-Yourself Septic System Inspection, Septics 201 Video
- Hiring a Septic System Professional
- Septic Tank Lid Safety
- Signs of Septic System Failure