Septic Systems

Maintaining your septic system prevents harmful bacteria from leaching into the lake and helps preserve the water quality in the Bay. Proper maintenance also helps extend the life of your system and could prevent the expense of replacing your leaching bed! 

Love Your Septic System

Pumping out the solids and scum that accumulate in your septic tank helps to maintain a properly functioning septic system. Did you see this vessel cruising around the Bay the last couple of weeks? It’s a sewage barge that pumped out 31 septic tanks in the Bay.  Thank you Mark Thoburn for organizing Jim Ferguson’s pumping crew! 

Picture by Neil Stanton

Another way to extend the life of your system and make sure that it’s operating efficiently is to be very careful what gets flushed down the drains. Check out these tips from Cottage Life.

6 Things That Should Never Go in Your Septic Tank
Cottage Life
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The over-use of strong disinfectants such as bleach and toilet bowl cleaners can kill the bacteria in your septic tank. Looking for an alternative that is septic safe?

DIY Septic Safe Cleaning Products
Visit the Bio-Sol website for some simple septic-safe cleaning products you make using everyday, non-toxic household ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon.
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Learn More About Septic Systems

If you’d like to do a “deep dive” into septic systems, the GBA has published a comprehensive guide about how a septic tank works and how best to maintain it in working order.
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Determining When it is Time for a Pump Out?
As a general guideline, it’s recommended that you pump out your septic tank every 3 to 5 years. But it really depends on the size of your tank and the level of solids and scum that have accumulated in your tank.

Most BICA members are only in the Bay for a few months of the year, so if you have a big septic tank and you’re careful about what goes down the drain, you may be able to go much longer than 3 to 5 years.

But how do you know when it is time? The GBA guide above includes instructions on how to measure the depth of solids and scum in your septic tank. It involves inserting an 8-foot stick wrapped in cloth into your tank and measuring the scum and solids. Hmmm. It’s not for everyone, but it might help you determine if you even need a pump out.

Keep in mind that it has been difficult to arrange pump outs in the Bay, and we may not be able to get Jim Ferguson’s crew back here for another 5 years. If you didn’t get your tank pumped out this year, you should consider it the next time.