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Out of sight and out of mind. If you are like most homeowners, you probably never give much thought to what happens to what goes down your drain, If you have a septic system, what you don’t know can hurt you. Following recommendations from the Indian Health Service for the proper operation and maintenance of your septic system can have a huge impact on its proper operation, and how long it will last.

Why Maintain Your System?

There are several primary reasons why septic system maintenance is so important. One reason is money. Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace. The minimal amount of preventative maintenance that septic systems require is very little. For example, it typically costs from $3,000.00 to $10,000.00 to replace a falling septic system with a new one corn pared to $50 to $150 to have a septic system inspected and $150 to $250 to have it pumped.

Another reason to maintain your system is to protect the health of your family, your community, and the environment. When septic systems fail, inadequately treated wastewater is released into the environment. Untreated wastewater from failing septic systems can contaminate nearby wells, groundwater, drinking water sources, and transmit diseases.

Chemicals improperly released through a septic system can pollute local water sources and contribute to system failures. For this reason it is important for homeowners to educate themselves about what should and should not be disposed of through a septic system.

Finally, the third reason to maintain your septic system is to protect the economic health of your community. Failed septic systems can cause property values to decline. Sometimes building permits cannot be issued or real estate sales can be delayed for these properties until systems are repaired or replaced. Also, failed septic systems can contribute to the pollution of local rivers, lakes, and shorelines that your community uses for commercial or recreational activities.

Why Many Systems Fail

Inadequate site assessment, construction, or design often contribute to septic system failures. However, if your septic system has been properly designed, constructed, and installed, then you are the most likely remaining threat to the health and longevity of your septic system. Fortunately, it is easy to learn how to properly operate and maintain a septic system.

This guide focuses on educating homeowners about proper septic system operation and maintenance. Some of the topics include groundwater pollution, system inspections, and the use of additives and cleaners. This guide also includes a handy reference list of important septic system do’s and don’ts for homeowners.

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