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Six tips to protect your septic system

  • 9/16/2021 1:24:00 PM
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DES MOINES – Fall is a great time for one in four Iowans to take a few simple steps to protect their pocket books, their septic systems and Iowa’s waters.

Septic failures are most likely to occur when they’re neglected. And, failures are costly. Routine inspections and maintenance may reduce those future costs. DNR urges Iowans with septic systems to celebrate SepticSmart Week, Sept. 20 to 24, by checking and maintaining their home systems. 

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes it easy,” says Cory Frank, DNR’s septic system expert. “EPA offers six tips to keep your system working at its peak. For example, fall is a good time to pump out the tank before the ground freezes.

“Follow these tips to safeguard your family’s health and protect our recreational waters from harmful organisms,” he says.

EPA sums up six tips to keep your system performing.

  • Don’t Strain your Drain—use water efficiently and stagger washing, dishwashing and other high water uses.
  • Think at the Sink—avoid pouring fats, solids and harsh chemicals down the drain.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode—flush only toilet paper, not tissues, wipes, paper towels, pet litter or any other trash.
  • Shield your Field—no parking and no tree planting keeps septic fields functioning.
  • Pump your Tank—follow your professional’s recommendations.
  • Protect it and Inspect it—service the system every one to three years. 

Surprisingly, most Iowans who depend on septic systems for wastewater treatment live in the urban fringe around large cities. “It’s crucial to maintain those systems properly to protect our health and our waters,” Frank said. 

SepticSmart Week is a nationwide campaign sponsored by EPA. Learn more about how septic systems work, how to care for them and what to do if they fail on the SepticSmart website.

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