Almost one quarter of all American homes depend on septic systems. Septic systems are wastewater treatment systems that collect, treat, and disperse the water that goes down the drains inside a home or business from the sink, bathtub/shower, toilet, washing machine, etc. The wastewater is treated onsite, rather than collected and transported to a centralized community wastewater treatment plant. If not installed or maintained properly, septic systems can pollute groundwater, creeks, and lakes. By following the basic recommendations below, you can help ensure that your system continues to function properly and keep our water resources clean.
- Cleaning the Tank: County Health Districts recommend pumping out septic tanks every three years for a three bedroom home with a 1,000 gallon tank. Smaller tanks should be pumped more often. Many communities and local health departments have mandatory pumping and point of sale inspection requirements. Check with your community for pump-out requirements.
- No Chemicals: Do not use chemicals for cleaning out the tank. They can do more harm than good because chemicals can kill beneficial bacteria that break down raw sewage.
- Minimize Flow to the System: Fix dripping faucets and install low-flow, water saving toilets and shower heads to avoid overloading the system. These fixtures, particularly shower heads, are readily available and easy to install.
- No Additives: Commercial septic tank additives have been shown to be ineffective and are not recommended.
- Distance from Streams, Lakes and Wetlands: Install new septic systems as far away from streams, lakes and wetlands as possible.
- No Trash: Do not add grease, diapers, paper, plastics, feminine products and cigarette butts to the system. These materials do not decompose and can clog the system, increasing maintenance needs while threatening area creeks and groundwater.
Have questions about your septic system? Contact your local Health Department:
- Cuyahoga County Board of Health
- Geauga County Health District
- Lake County General Health District
- Portage County Health Department
Get the Facts about the Ohio Department of Health's Home Septic Resources and Education.