Here's a help list of dos and don'ts for keeping your septic system in shape:
Learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance records for service visits.
Have your septic system inspected at least every 3 years and pumped periodically (generally every 3 to 5 years) by a licensed inspector/contractor.
Keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance activities.
Use water efficiently to avoid overloading the septic system and flooding the drainfield. Be sure to repair leaky faucets and toilets. Space out laundry washing. Install showerheads, faucets, and toilets that use less than 3 gallons of water per minute or per flush.
Plant only grass over your septic system. Roots from trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.
Check with the local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper if you have a garbage disposal unit to make sure that your septic system can handle this additional waste. A garbage disposal can add up to 25 percent to the solids in a tank.
Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda. Normal amounts of bleach, detergent, drain cleaners, and toilet bowl deodorizers will not stop the natural breakdown of solids in the tank. Excessive amounts will.
Avoid products that claim to clean septic systems. There's little evidence that these products work. What's more, some may be carcinogenic and move into your groundwater.
Your septic system is not a trash can. Don't put dental floss, facial tissues, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, latex paint, fats, oils, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals in your toilets or sinks.
Don't use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.
Don't drive or park vehicles or equipment on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drain field or damage the pipes, tank or other septic system components.
Don't allow roof water to drain on the drainfield.