Pump Your Septic Tank Regularly

Septic tanks are underground concrete (or sometimes, plastic) boxes, filled with liquid, that allow solid wastes to settle out so that they don't enter your leaching area. If the level of solids in the tank becomes too high, they will enter the leaching area and plug the pores in the soil that allow the liquid to filter into the ground. If that happens, the water will either back up into the house or break out on the ground. Once the leaching area becomes clogged it will need to be replaced or extended. Adding leaching fields is far more expensive than pumping septic tanks. Regular septic tank maintenance is the single most important step you can take to extend the life of your system. Additional protective measures are listed below. Additional septic system information can be found on the Health Department page of this website.

Septic tanks should be cleaned (pumped) every 3 to 5 years, depending on their size and how heavily they are used. The Madison Health Department/Water Pollution Control Authority encourages home-owners to protect their septic system with regular septic tank pumping. In fact there is a Town Ordinance that requires septic tanks to be inspected, and pumped if necessary at least every five years.

Septic tank pumping companies are licensed by the state and they report each tank they pump to the Town, which we then enter into a database. Annually, we send notices to the addresses that have not been pumped in five years. If you receive such a notice from the town, you should arrange to have your tank pumped. If you receive a notice and your tank has been pumped in the last five years, contact the company that did the work and have them send us a record of the service.

Septic System Do's and Don'ts
  • If you use a garbage disposal, use it moderately and pump your tank annually.
  • Don't put fats and oils down your drain, especially when they are hot
  • Minimize use of strong cleaners and disinfectants which reduce biological activity in the tank.
  • Keep diapers, cigarette butts, coffee grounds and other solids out of your septic system.
  • Dispose of caustic chemicals, pesticides, oil, paint, gasoline etc. through the Town Hazardous Waste Disposal program - not in your septic system. Go to the Regional Water Authority website for information.
  • Don't allow construction, landscaping or other heavy equipment on your septic system.
  • Direct roof and other storm water runoff away from your septic system.
  • Don't grow large trees over your septic system.
  • Minimize water usage.