The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

September 29, 2013

EPA encourages homeowners to care for their septic systems

ATHENS — EPA encourages homeowners to care for their septic systems

WASHINGTON – Proper septic system care and maintenance is vital to protecting public health and preserving valuable water resources.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging homeowners to take action to ensure their septic systems are functioning properly. Nearly one quarter of all American households—more than 26 million homes—depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater.

Failure to maintain and service a home’s septic system can lead to system back-ups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs, polluted local waterways and risks to public health and the environment.

Many septic system failures occur during the winter holiday season, so EPA is encouraging homeowners to get their septic systems inspected and serviced now before licensed inspectors’ schedules fill up around the holidays.

“By taking a few small, simple steps to care for their home’s septic system, homeowners can help protect the health of their community and their local waterways, while preventing potentially costly repairs to their septic system that can occur if the system is not properly maintained,” said EPA acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner.

Homeowners can do their part by following these SepticSmart tips:

•    Have the system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years.

•    Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain, which can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.

•    Ask guests to put only things in the drain or toilet that belong there. Coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.  

•    Be water-efficient and spread out water use. Consider fixing plumbing leaks and installing faucet aerators and water-efficient products that bear the EPA WaterSense label, and spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system if it hasn’t been pumped recently. Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

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