Tips on Maintaining Your Septic System

Rural farm septic tank system

Do you have a septic system?

If you live on a farm, acreage or in a rural area or perhaps you have a summer cottage, your home is not likely to have connections to municipal water and sewer lines and you will have to rely on a privately owned septic system.

A malfunctioning septic system which is not properly maintained can pose a health risk to your family and can be expensive to repair or replace.

Septic Systems

Your septic system receives wastewater from your home (sinks, shower, toilets, dishwasher, washing machine), treats the wastewater and returns the treated effluent to the groundwater.

Generally, the most common septic system consists of a septic tank that gravity flows to a soil adsorption field for final treatment and dispersal. 

The septic tank collects wastewater and provides primary treatment of wastewater by separating solids from effluent. Solid waste falls and collects at the bottom of the septic tank for later pump outs. Wastewater continues to a leach field of perforated pipes for final treatment in the soil absorption field and then is naturally absorbed into the soil. Billions of organisms in the tank process the waste.

Holding tanks are used when a home or building is not able to connect to a community sewer system or install a leaching field due to adverse soil conditions, lack of space or other limiting conditions. They are also handy when utilizing temporary office trailers and temporary housing.

If you own a property with a septic system, they are solely your responsibility to check, maintain, service and repair.

It is very important to keep in mind that everything that goes down the drain flows to the septic system.

Get to Know Your Septic System

If you are new to having a septic system, following are some things you should do right away if you haven't already:

  • Research and know the location of your septic system. This includes the tank / tank access lid and location of the leach field, if you have one. Make sure to keep the tank access lid secured to the riser at all times and never enter a tank. It is also recommended to have a system diagram in a safe place in case you are away from home and have someone watching your property and they need this information.
  • For easy reference, make sure to keep accurate records of your septic system maintenance and service calls. It is recommended to have your tank inspected for sludge and scum build up on a regular basis (every 3 to 5 years) and have it emptied when a third of the depth of your tank is full of sludge and scum. A licensed sewage hauler or onsite sewage system professional should remove the septic tank cover and inspect the system every three to five years and pump out the solids and scum when required. You can download a copy of a Rural Septic System checklist here which includes a Septic System Maintenance Record form to track service dates, activity / comments and the name of the service provider.
  • Identify where your leaching bed is located and check to make sure that surface water is being diverted from it.

By taking good care of your septic system and doing the recommended maintenance, you will save yourself time, money and worries involved in replacing a failed system. 

Tips to help ensure the longevity of your septic system:  

  • Conserve water in the house to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated by repairing leaky plumbing fixtures and consider replacing inefficient toilets with low-flush models
  • Consider installing a lint filter on your washing machine’s discharge pipe
  • Spread the number of loads of laundry throughout the week
  • Test your well water at least three times a year — spring, summer and fall — for indicator bacteria
  • Have your effluent filter checked and cleaned every year; if you don’t have an effluent filter, consider adding one
  • Don't flush any of the following down the drain: food waste, cooking oil, hazardous chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cigarette butts or sanitary products
  • When it comes to leaching beds, don't dig without knowing the location of the leaching bed. Don't pave, drive or park over your leaching bed or allow livestock on it or plant trees or shrubs too close to it.
  • Don't drive or park over your tank or plant trees or shrubs too close to the septic tank
  • Don't use a garbage disposal unit/garburator unless your system has been designed for it 
  • Don't connect rain gutters, storm drains, sump pumps or allow surface water to drain into a septic system 
  • Don't connect leaching bed or greywater system to agricultural field drainage 
  • Don't discharge water softener backwash to the septic system unless your system has been designed for it 
  • Don't drain hot tub and spa water to the septic system

Natural Septic Tank Additives

At Earth Smart Solutions we offer a Natural Septic Tank Additive (ESTT) formulated to increase microbial populations and accelerate the natural (biological) process within your septic system and drain field.

ESTT tank treatment reduces frequent septic tank pumping, extends drain field life, improves drain field percolation, prevents sewer line blockage and keeps septic systems operating at optimum performance. ESTT will protect your septic system and keep it operating smoothly.


Using ESTT is simple... Just drop a convenient water soluble pouch into your toilet bowl and flush. ESTT is safe to use as directed. It is completely natural, contains no corrosive chemicals and is hazard free. It will not damage metal, ceramic, or the plastic parts of the drainage system.


  • Controls methane production 
  • Improves drain field percolation 
  • Prevents sewer line blockage 
  • Neutralizes detergent bleach 
  • Will not attack plastic or metal plumbing 
  • Safer to use than harsh chemicals 
  • Accelerates the degradation process 
  • Degrades paper, grease and vegetable waste


Much of the information contained in this blog is courtesy of the brochure "Septic Smart - Understanding Your Home's Septic System" compliments of the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.

Click here to open and download the SepticSmart book (PDF). This booklet will help you become familiar with how your system works and how to keep it working properly. It is important to know that you are responsible for your septic system and that it is in your best interest to take good care of it — from a health, financial and environmental perspective.

About Your House, Buying a House With a Well and Septic System, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

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