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How to Master Septic Tank Upkeep in 30 Days

Read time: 11 min.

Quick Septic Maintenance Checklist:
– Inspect your system every 1-2 years.
– Pump out your tank every 3-5 years.
– Avoid flushing harmful materials like wipes, grease, and certain household chemicals.
– Conserve water to reduce the load on your system.
– Protect and maintain your drainfield area.

Tired of unexpected and costly repairs for your septic tank? You’re not alone. Many homeowners in Manteno, IL, face the same issue but don’t know where to start. Mastering septic tank upkeep in just 30 days might sound ambitious, but it’s totally possible. The key? Regular maintenance and smart habits.

Septic systems are the unsung heroes of home sanitation, quietly working behind the scenes. Ignoring them, however, can lead to overwhelming challenges, from environmental hazards to significant financial burdens. Septic system care is less about complex interventions and more about regular, simple actions.

This guide will walk you through the basics of your septic system and stress the importance of keeping it well-maintained. Whether it’s preventing backups or protecting the environment, the goal is to provide you with the knowledge to avoid common pitfalls.

Infographic summarizing septic system care tips and the impact of neglect - septic tank maintenance infographic step-infographic-4-steps

Let’s dive into understanding your septic system better and unveil how to keep it functioning smoothly, avoiding disruptions to your home or business in Manteno, IL.

Understanding Your Septic System

When it comes to septic tank maintenance, understanding the components of your septic system, how it works, and its expected lifespan is crucial. This knowledge not only helps in maintaining your system efficiently but also in preventing potential issues that could lead to costly repairs.


A typical septic system consists of two main parts: the septic tank and the drainfield (or leach field).

  • Septic Tank: This is where the wastewater from your home flows to for initial treatment. Inside, solids settle to the bottom, forming sludge, while fats, oils, and lighter solids float to the top, creating scum. The middle layer of partially clarified liquid flows out into the drainfield.

  • Drainfield: Here, the wastewater is further treated by the soil. The liquid wastewater (effluent) seeps through the soil, which naturally removes harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients.

How It Works

The process is straightforward but effective. When wastewater enters the septic tank, it begins to separate. The solid waste settles, and the liquid moves to the drainfield. As the liquid effluent percolates through the soil in the drainfield, further filtration occurs through natural processes, making the wastewater harmless by the time it reaches groundwater sources.

This natural filtration process is crucial for preventing pollution and protecting water sources in your community. Allied Water Services emphasizes the importance of a well-maintained system to ensure this process remains effective, stating, “A well-maintained system ensures this treated wastewater safely disperses back into the environment.”


The lifespan of a septic system can vary widely but typically ranges from 15 to 40 years for the septic tank, with the drainfield potentially lasting more than 50 years if properly cared for. Regular maintenance plays a significant role in achieving these lifespans.

The Environmental Protection Agency highlights the importance of understanding your system and undertaking regular maintenance tasks to extend your system’s life. Key to this is knowing when to pump out your tank to prevent clogs and leaks, which can be detrimental to the system’s overall health and longevity.

In conclusion, a basic understanding of your septic system’s components, functionality, and the importance of its lifespan helps in appreciating the value of septic tank maintenance. Maintaining your septic system is not just about avoiding costly repairs; it’s also about protecting your family’s health, the environment, and ensuring your home or business in Manteno, IL, operates smoothly without any unwelcome interruptions.

Inspect and Pump Frequently

Maintaining your septic system is crucial. Think of it as an investment in your property’s future, your health, and the environment. Regular inspections and pumping are the backbone of effective septic tank maintenance. Let’s break it down into easily digestible chunks.

Inspection Frequency

Your septic system should be looked at by a professional at least every three years. However, if you have a system with mechanical parts, such as pumps or float switches, an annual check-up is recommended. These alternative systems have more components that can wear out or malfunction, so they require a closer eye. The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA) provides a wealth of information and can help you find a qualified service professional in your area.

Pumping Schedule

Most household septic tanks need pumping every three to five years. But this can vary based on several factors, including the size of your household, the volume of wastewater generated, and the amount of solids in the wastewater. Keeping an eye on these can help you better predict when your tank needs attention.

Alternative Systems

If your system includes technological elements like electrical float switches or mechanical components, it’s vital to have it inspected more frequently—usually once a year. These systems often come with a service contract due to their complexity and the need for regular professional oversight.

Choosing a Service Provider

When it’s time for an inspection or pump-out, choosing the right service provider is key. Here’s what you need to know:


The service provider should start by checking for leaks. A leaking septic tank can lead to groundwater contamination and system failure.

Scum and Sludge Layers

They will also measure the scum and sludge layers in your tank. If the bottom of the scum layer is within six inches of the outlet, or the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches, it’s pumping time. More than 25% of the liquid depth being sludge and scum is a clear signal for immediate action.

Maintenance Records

Keeping detailed records of inspections, pump-outs, and any repairs is crucial. These records can help diagnose problems early and are useful for the next service visit. They also add value to your property by showing potential buyers that the septic system has been well-maintained.


If the inspection uncovers the need for repairs, don’t delay. Prompt repairs can prevent small problems from turning into big, expensive ones.

Choosing the right service provider means looking for someone who is thorough, knowledgeable, and willing to take the time to explain what your system needs and why. At Allied Water Services, we believe in providing comprehensive inspections and clear communication to ensure your septic system remains in top condition.

Remember, septic tank maintenance is not just about preventing problems; it’s about ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your system. Regular inspections and pumping are investments in the health of your septic system, your property, and the environment.

Use Water Efficiently

Average water use in a typical household can be eye-opening. Each person can use around 70 gallons per day. That’s a lot of water ending up in your septic system. But, by being smart about water use, you can reduce strain on your system.

High-efficiency toilets make a big difference. Old toilets used up to 5 gallons per flush, but new models use 1.6 gallons or less. This simple switch can save thousands of gallons of water a year. It’s not just good for your septic system; it’s also good for the planet.

Faucet aerators and high-efficiency showerheads can cut down your water use without you even noticing. They mix air with water, giving you the feeling of the same water pressure while using less water.

Washing machines are another area where you can save. Did you know that selecting the right load size can save water and energy? And spreading out laundry days throughout the week prevents your septic system from being overwhelmed.

Conserving Water in Daily Activities

Laundry tips can make a big impact. For instance, wait until you have a full load before running your washing machine. This small step can lead to significant water savings over time.

Efficient appliances make a difference. Look for those with the ENERGY STAR label; they use 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water. It’s better for your septic system and your utility bills.

The WaterSense program by the EPA offers great tips on saving water. From fixing leaky faucets to choosing water-efficient products, every little bit helps in reducing the load on your septic system.

By adopting these practices, you’re not just saving water. You’re ensuring the health of your septic system and avoiding costly repairs down the line. Plus, it’s a step towards living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Properly Dispose of Waste

When it comes to septic tank maintenance, understanding what should and should not enter your system is crucial. Let’s break it down into simple terms: Toilets aren’t trash cans, and you need to Think at the sink. Every substance you flush or wash away plays a role in the health and efficiency of your septic system.

What Not to Flush or Pour Down the Drain

Cooking Grease and Oil

Why it’s a problem: Grease and oil don’t break down in your septic system. Instead, they float to the top and form a layer of scum, which can block pipes and reduce the system’s effectiveness. This can lead to costly repairs and unpleasant backups. According to Allied Water Services, avoiding grease and oil in your drains is a key step in keeping your septic system healthy.

Non-flushable Wipes

Why it’s a problem: Despite some being marketed as “flushable,” wipes do not decompose like toilet paper. They can clog your system and cause backups. This includes baby wipes, makeup removal pads, and other wet wipes.

Household Chemicals

Why it’s a problem: Chemicals such as pesticides, antifreeze, paint, and solvents can destroy the bacteria that your septic system relies on to break down waste. Without these bacteria, your system can fail.


Why it’s a problem: Flushing medications can introduce harmful substances into groundwater. Additionally, some medications can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your system, further harming its ability to function properly.

septic system diagram - septic tank maintenance

Key Takeaways for Septic Tank Maintenance

  • Think Before You Flush: Only human waste and toilet paper should go down the toilet.
  • Sink Smart: Be mindful of what goes down your kitchen sink, bathtub, and other drains. Avoid disposing of harmful substances and non-biodegradable materials that can damage your septic system.
  • Proper Disposal: Find alternative disposal methods for substances that shouldn’t go into your septic system. For example, cooking oil can be collected in a container and disposed of with solid waste.

By following these simple guidelines, you can avoid the common pitfalls that lead to septic system issues. What goes down your drain doesn’t magically disappear. It ends up in your septic system and affects its performance.

At Allied Water Services, we understand the importance of a healthy septic system. That’s why we recommend these practices to help prevent costly repairs and ensure your system remains effective for years to come. For more tips on maintaining your septic system, visit our Septic Tank Maintenance Guide.

Taking care of your septic system is easier than you think. By being mindful of how you dispose of waste, you’re taking a big step towards keeping your system running smoothly and avoiding emergency repairs.

Maintain Your Drainfield

Your drainfield is a crucial component of your septic system, where the final treatment of your home’s wastewater occurs. Proper care and maintenance of your drainfield can greatly enhance the effectiveness and longevity of your entire septic system. Here are some essential tips on parking, planting, and placing items on your drainfield, along with general protection advice.

Drainfield Do’s and Don’ts

Avoid driving and heavy equipment: Your drainfield is not designed to withstand the weight of vehicles or heavy machinery. Driving or parking on it can compact the soil and damage the underground pipes, leading to costly repairs and system malfunctions. Even if it seems harmless, the impact of vehicles can disrupt the delicate balance of your drainfield’s functionality.

Proper landscaping: When it comes to landscaping around your drainfield, less is more. Opt for shallow-rooted plants that can help prevent erosion without interfering with your septic system’s operation. Grass is ideal because its root system is beneficial for the drainfield surface, helping with water absorption and preventing erosion. Avoid planting trees or shrubs near your drainfield; their deep roots can damage the septic lines. For more insights on suitable plants, consult the EPA’s guidelines on proper landscaping around your septic system.

Rainwater management: Properly directing rainwater away from your drainfield is crucial. Excessive water can saturate the soil, limiting its ability to absorb and filter wastewater from your septic system. Ensure that gutters and drainage ditches are directed away from the drainfield area to prevent flooding and potential system overload.

Maintaining your drainfield isn’t just about preventing damage; it’s about ensuring the efficient and effective treatment of wastewater. By following these simple guidelines, you can help extend the life of your septic system and avoid unnecessary repairs. A little attention goes a long way in keeping your septic system healthy.

For homeowners and businesses in Manteno, IL, dealing with septic system needs, prioritize these practices. At Allied Water Services, we understand the importance of a well-maintained septic system. Our experts are always ready to provide guidance and services to ensure your system remains in top condition. If you have any questions or need professional assistance with your septic system, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Taking care of your drainfield is an integral part of overall septic system maintenance. By adhering to these do’s and don’ts, you’re not just protecting your investment; you’re also contributing to a healthier environment. Keep these tips in mind, and your septic system will thank you for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions about Septic Tank Maintenance

Navigating septic tank maintenance can feel like a maze. But don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through it. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions by homeowners.

How often should my septic tank be pumped?

The frequency at which your septic tank needs to be pumped can vary based on several factors including the size of your tank and the number of people living in your home. As a general guideline, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that homeowners have their septic system pumped every three to five years. However, homes with alternative systems that have electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, typically once a year. A detailed inspection and pumping frequency guide suggests:

  • 1,000-gallon tank: Pump every 3 years for a household of 4; every 12 years for 1 person.
  • 1,250-gallon tank: Pump every 3 years for a household of 4; every 16 years for 1 person.
  • 1,500-gallon tank: Pump every 3 years for a household of 4; every 9 years for 1 person.

Can I use a garbage disposal with a septic system?

Yes, but with caution. Using a garbage disposal increases the amount of solids in your septic tank, requiring more frequent pumping. To minimize potential problems, consider composting kitchen scraps or disposing of them in the trash. If you choose to use a garbage disposal, opt for one that’s septic-friendly and ensure your septic tank is pumped more frequently to handle the additional waste. Small amounts of food are totally fine, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

What are the signs of a failing septic system?

Knowing the warning signs of a failing septic system can save you from costly repairs or environmental damage. Common indicators include:

  • Soggy ground or pooling water in your yard, especially around the drainfield area.
  • Slow draining sinks, showers, and toilets, not attributable to local clogs.
  • Unpleasant odors around the septic tank or drainfield.
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.
  • Backups of sewage in your home, which are not only unpleasant but also pose a health risk.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time for an immediate inspection. Ignoring these symptoms could lead to a system failure, causing significant damage to your property and the environment.

Septic tank maintenance isn’t just about solving problems as they arise; it’s about preventing them in the first place. Regular inspections and pumping, along with mindful water use and waste disposal, are key to keeping your system functioning efficiently. At Allied Water Services, we understand the importance of maintaining your septic system and are here to provide expert advice and services. Keeping your septic system in top shape ensures the health of your family, your property, and the environment.


Commitment to maintenance, Allied Water Services, Customer satisfaction

At Allied Water Services, our commitment goes beyond just fixing problems as they arise. We believe in a proactive approach to septic tank maintenance. It’s not just about responding to emergencies; it’s about preventing them. Just like brushing your teeth helps prevent cavities, regular care for your septic system prevents major issues down the road.

Why Maintenance Matters

Maintenance is key. A well-maintained septic system is like a well-oiled machine—it runs smoothly, efficiently, and without trouble. This not only saves you money on expensive repairs or replacements but also protects the environment. As we’ve discussed, everything from water efficiency to proper waste disposal plays a role in keeping your system healthy. And when your septic system is healthy, your property is safe, and so is the local ecosystem.

Allied Water Services: Here for You

We at Allied Water Services are dedicated to ensuring your septic system remains in peak condition. With our septic tank replacement and installation services, you can trust that your property is in good hands. Our team of experts uses the latest technology to diagnose and treat any issues your system may face, ensuring a long-lasting solution.

Our approach is simple: we listen, we diagnose, and we solve. We understand the stress and inconvenience that can come with septic system issues, which is why we strive to provide a hassle-free experience from start to finish. Our goal is not just to meet your expectations but to exceed them, ensuring that you are fully satisfied with our services.

Your Role in Septic System Health

Maintaining a septic system is a partnership. While we’re here to provide professional support and services, there are steps you can take to contribute to your system’s health, such as conserving water, being mindful of what goes down your drains, and scheduling regular inspections.

septic system maintenance tips - septic tank maintenance

A Final Word

In conclusion, mastering septic tank upkeep isn’t just about avoiding problems—it’s about embracing a lifestyle of care and maintenance for your home. At Allied Water Services, we’re proud to be your partner in this journey. By working together, we can ensure that your septic system remains a reliable and efficient part of your home for years to come.

For any questions or to schedule a service, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Your home is your haven, and with Allied Water Services, you can rest easy knowing that your septic system is in the best of hands.

A little maintenance goes a long way. Let’s keep your system running smoothly, together.

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