It can be difficult to know right from wrong when it comes to septic system care, particularly if you’ve never had to deal with one before. There are a lot of things you should do and a lot of things you shouldn’t do. It’s hard to keep track.

This article is a guide for Rhode Island septic system owners to help you navigate through the ins and outs of proper on-site sewage care and maintenance. If you recently purchased your home, chances are a septic system inspection was part of the sale. If you have been in your home for awhile and haven’t had any maintenance or services done, it’s time to get on top of it to ensure that your system doesn’t fail.

Dealing With Water
Water is one of the biggest challenges to proper septic system care. It is important to learn how to conserve and monitor water use, particularly in households where there are children or a large number of people living under one roof. Your septic system is designed to handle water based upon the number of bedrooms in your home. For example, a three bedroom home is designed to be able to handle the wastewater and on-site sewage processing for up to four people.

If you have more people living in your home than your system was designed for, you will want to get a confidential voluntary septic system inspection by a licensed and certified service company to make sure it is running effectively and efficiently. Sometimes your system needs to be upgraded to handle the additional people and sometimes you just need to be more careful about water usage in order to make it work.

Tips for Reducing Water Usage:

  • spread out washing machine use throughout the week – don’t ever do the whole week’s worth of laundry in one day
  • use water-saving devices wherever possible, such as low flush toilets and reduced flow shower heads
  • add lint traps to your washing machine and clean them out regularly
  • make sure that you don’t have any roof drains aimed at the drain field
  • do not use a garbage disposal unless your system was specifically designed to accommodate one – instead try kitchen composting to reduce waste
  • never connect a sump pump to your system or backwash from water treatment devices into the septic tank

Foreign Objects
You also need to be careful about the types of objects that get flushed or drained into your septic system. Rhode Island septic system owners need to be acutely aware of everything that passes into the septic tank to prevent failure. This can be especially concerning in homes with young children that may use too much paper in the bathroom or enjoy flushing toys or other objects down the toilet.

Older children and teenagers are also notorious object flushers. Tampons, condoms, cigarette butts and anything they don’t want their parents to find will typically end up in the commode. If you aren’t sure what the status of your system is you can always get a confidential voluntary septic system inspection or hire a service company to evaluate the efficiency of your on-site sewage treatment system. Either way, it’s a good idea to speak with all of your family members about what is okay to flush or put down the drain – and what isn’t.

The Dirty Dozen – Things You Should NEVER Put in Your System:

  1. disposable diapers
  2. sanitary napkins or tampons
  3. cigarette butts
  4. coffee grounds
  5. grease, fats and oils
  6. pills or other types of medication
  7. kitty litter
  8. condoms
  9. paper towels
  10. pesticides, chemicals, disinfectants and cleaning compounds
  11. varnishes, thinners and paints
  12. dental floss

Preventative Maintenance Program
Speak with your septic system care service representative about getting involved in a preventative maintenance program. Often this type of service will help you avoid costly repairs and emergency pumping by keeping track of your system and making sure that it is working effectively and efficiently.

In addition to hiring a licensed and certified professional to help you with your septic system care and required septic system inspection, you should also keep track of your service and maintenance on your own. While most responsible companies will provide you with a record of service, it doesn’t hurt to stay on top of it at home too just in case paperwork gets lost of misplaced.

Tips for Monitoring Your Maintenance:

  • keep records of all pump outs and septic system maintenance performed
  • keep a copy of your most current septic system inspection just in case
  • have your septic tank pumped out regularly – every two to five years, as needed
  • keep a diagram of where key components of your septic system are located
  • get all equipment, including pumps, siphons and other parts checked regularly
  • keep an eye on any trees or other growth to make sure it doesn’t enter your drain field – roots are known to creep

Call a Professional
Even if you have experience working with septic systems, don’t ever try to maintain your system on your own unless you are certified and licensed in septic system care. Don’t ever enter your septic tank for any reason. The fumes and lack of ventilation can be deadly. Don’t try to use chemicals or other additives to improve the efficiency of your septic system. Most of these products do more damage than good.

All-Clear Septic & Wastewater in Acushnet, Massachusetts services customers all throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They are certified and licensed to perform Massachusetts Title V Inspections and Rhode Island Town Inspections in Charlestown, Jamestown, North Kingstown, South Kingstown and wherever it is required. Rhode Island septic system owners need to be aware of the ordinances in their town with regard to inspections and other septic system care requirements. Call All-Clear Septic for questions or to set up an appointment for an evaluation of your current system at 508-763-4431.