You can do your part to become septic smart

Many rural residents use septic tanks instead of public sewers to dispose of their wastewater, but septic systems must be maintained regularly to continue working properly.

If your household uses a septic system, keep in mind these quick tips to keep your family and community safe and healthy:

• Clean your effluent filter every 6 months.
• Pump your tank every 3-5 years.
• Don’t flush anything besides toilet paper (not even “flushable” wipes).
• Only allow soap, dishwater and wash water from produce down your drain.
• Don’t use septic tank additives like Rid-X (they can lead to a clogged drainfield).

Visit the EPA’s Septic Smart website to learn more about best practices for septic systems.

Neglecting or misusing a septic system can have serious consequences, including sewage backing up into your home, contamination of groundwater and harm to the environment, and it can lead to a high price tag to repair any damage.

Watch for signs of a failing system, such as a pool of water near the drainfield, slow drains or sewage backup. Contact a septic service provider right away if you suspect any issues.

If you have any questions about septic tank maintenance or finding a service provider, contact the Dallas County Environmental Health Department at 515-993-3750.

Natalie Peters is the community health educator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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