Septic Plumbing vs. Regular Sewer

If your home uses a septic tank as opposed to being connected to a municipal waste treatment system, the septic plumbing must be treated differently. In most states, home plumbing must be installed by a licensed plumber and in many areas a licensed installer is also required for the septic. However, even with qualified installation there are things you can do to help maintain your septic system that you wouldn’t have to do with a sewer connection.

Avoid Non-Biodegradables and Harsh Chemicals
All waste lines in the home will connect directly to your plumbing and everything you flush down the toilet or dispense into a kitchen or bathroom drain will end up in your tank. When you pour excess cooking fat or grease down the kitchen sink it can cause problems in your system and when your use bleach in your laundry it can kill the bacteria that are digesting waste in the tank.

  • Diapers
  • Cigarettes butts
  • Harsh chemicals
  • Excess toilet paper
  • Cat Litter
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Grease/Kitchen Oil
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Gasoline
  • Motor Oil
  • Pesticides
  • Antifreeze
  • Paint
  • (A garage sink goes in the tank like everything else)

Water Reduction
The plumbing inside your home is most likely the same as in a home that is connected to a municipal waste treatment plant, but outside it will be slightly different. You will need to do everything possible to minimize the amount of excess water flowing into your septic plumbing system to improve its efficiency and reduce the number of times and the frequency in which it must be pumped out. If drain pipes from your gutters enter the system or is discharged near your tank it can overtax your system and could cause waste to leach into the surrounding ground.


Water Reduction Tips
Septic Plumbing Tips Graphic

Water Use per Fixture

Water Use per Fixture

Signs of Trouble
When any drains in the home are running slow it could be a sign that your system isn’t working as it should. An overflowing tank or a blockage in the system will cause your drains to slow down. However, before considering a big problem with the system, you should check each individual drain for blockage. Once you are convinced the house drains are running free, it may be time to look into the system for the problem.

Pouring cooking oil and/or grease down the kitchen drain can cause additional problems. If the scum layer makes its way into the drain field, it can form a barrier on top of the soil and prevent the effluent from draining into the soil. Essentially, completely clog the soil and prevent the water from moving through the soil as designed. When this happens, wet areas will appear on the ground over the pipes bringing with them the unmistakable odor.

Sending excess water through your septic plumbing can cause the level in the tank to rise possibly pushing the bottom sludge layer higher, which will allow solid wastes to escape through the outlet pipe and into the drain field. This will result in wetlands over the drain field as well as creating an odor near the tank and the ground.


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