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Know when to clean my septic tank



  • A typical septic system consists of two main parts, a septic tank and a drain field. Underground pipes connect the system.

  • Septic systems can contribute to source water contamination for various reasons including improper location of the system, poor design, faulty construction, incorrect operation, and poor or no maintenance of the system.

  • Septic systems that are properly planned, designed, sited, installed, operated, and maintained can provide excellent wastewater treatment. However, systems that are sited in densities that exceed the treatment capacity of regional soils and systems that are poorly designed, installed, operated or maintained can cause problems.

  • Household chemicals kill the necessary bacteria that your septic system uses to break down waste. By killing the bacteria, you destroy the process.

  • The average lifespan for a septic system is 30 years, as long as it is maintained properly.

  • A septic field should be in an area where: the wind can get at the surface, the grass is kept short, and located away from lawn sprinkling systems.

  • One of the biggest causes of pollution to our waterways is septic system failure. Bacteria and viruses from human waste can cause dysentery, hepatitis, and typhoid fever.

  • A non-working septic system can pollute your own yard and if you are on waterfront, it can pollute your beach.

  • Michigan does not have a statewide sanitary code. Regulations pertaining to septic system installation, isolation distances, and safety vary from County to County.

What you should know:

  • Have your septic system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have the tank pumped when necessary (generally every three to five years).

  • Do not flush non-biodegradable products or chemicals such as feminine hygiene products, condoms, dental floss, diapers, cigarette butts, cat litter, paper towels or pharmaceuticals.

  • Eliminate or limit the use of garbage disposals.

  • Consult a septic service professional to advise you of the proper distance for planting trees and shrubs, depending on your septic tank location.

  • Do not park or drive on your drain field.

  • Do not flush grease into the system. Let it harden or solidify and dispose in the trash.

  • When purchasing a home with a septic system, have the system inspected by the local health department. It will be worth the fee.

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