Some very important tips that can save you money when it comes to your septic system:

  1. Know where your septic tank is in relation to your home.  Know where the access cover for your septic tank is.  Generally, it can be buried a few inches beneath the soil. Some tanks have a riser, which brings the cover level with the ground, allowing easy access.  Knowing this will help save time and money when RCI Septic Service comes to pump or troubleshoot your septic tank.  When we have to find the access cover, we can only guess and dig – hoping we are in the right general location.  If you do not know where your septic tank is, you can find it on your property’s septic system record drawing.  This can be obtained from the State of NH DES.
    Schematic of Conventional Septic System


  2. Have your tank pumped on a regular basis.  RCI Septic Service, along with the Septic Service Industry suggest every 2-3 years.  This prevents build up of sludge & hardening of waste.  When the waste hardens it becomes much like concrete.  It has to be broken apart manually, which is laborious and time consuming.  Many times the tank has to be backwashed several times to get it clean.  This can increase the cost of your tank pumping.  Also, sludge will flow into the drainfield clogging the soil pipes. Once a drainfield is clogged, it must be replaced, which is an expensive repair, costing anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000.  You risk contaminating ground and surface water resources, which could affect wells and other bodies of water in the area.  You may eventually have a plumbing backup in your home.
  3. It is recommended to have your septic tank pumped every 2-3 years, depending on the number of people in the household and the amount & type of solids.
  4. Well maintained septic systems can last 20 years or more.
  5. How do you know if you are having problems with your septic system?  One of the first signs can be slow draining toilets and drains; an odor of sewage in your house, particularly in your basement where the sewerage drain pipe leaves the house.  Wetness around the sewage drain pipe, particularly where the washing machine drains; Wetness or pools of water on top of the drainfield; and finally an odor of sewage outside the house toward the drainfield.
  6. Water conservation is very important.  Septic tanks are mainly settling chambers.  They allow time for solids and scum to separate out from wastewater, so clear liquid can safely go to the drainfield.  Over time, the scum and sludge layers get thicker, leaving less space & time for the waste-water to settle before passing into the drainfield.  There are limits to the amount of water a septic system can treat.  For every gallon entering the tank, one gallon gets pushed out.  Too much water may back up into your house or overload the drainfield and eventually surface in the yard.  Large volumes of water in short periods of time may not allow solids enough time to settle and may be carried out to the drainfield, eventually clogging pipes.
  7. Garbage diposals have an effect on how often you have to have your tank pumped.  Food particles are not digested by the bacteria and accumulate as scum.  if a large amount of water enters the tank, it can push the food particles to the drainfield, causing clogging.  If you use a garbage disposal, your septic tank will have to be pumped more often.
  8. Do not allow food, grease, fats or oils to go down the drains.  They do not decompose and remain in the tank. Do not pour chemicals down the drain.  Chemicals can kill bacteria needed to break down the matter that flows into the tank.  The bacteria is a necessary part of a healthy septic system.
  9. Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet.  Avoid flushing tissues, “flushable” wipes, cigarette butts, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, hair, dental floss, and cat litter.  Items that say “flushable” are not good for your septic system.  They could cause clogs and major damage.

    You should use only white toilet paper.  Colored paper contains dyes that can harm your septic system.
  10. Using additives to “help” your system are not necessary.  The naturally occuring bacteria needed for the septic system to work are already present in human feces.  According to the US Department of Health, using an additive does not eliminate the need for routine septic tank maintenance.
  11. Trees and shrubs should be kept at least 30 feet away from your drainfield.  Both have extensive root systems that can interfere with a proper functioning drainfield.
  12. Avoid driving over a drainfield.  The pressure of vehicles or heavy equipment compact the soil and can damage pipes.
  13. Water lines for sprinkler systems should be 10 feet minimum from the components of the septic system.