University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Septic Systems

Preventive Practices


Karen Filchak


Preventive practices are also of importance in protecting the septic system.  Three key categories of practices are of particular importance.   They are: 

(1) Improve the Quality of Wastewater;

(2) Reduce the Quantity of Wastewater; and

(3) Protect the Drainfield.

Improving the quality of wastewater means being careful about what is put into the system.  The system was not designed to treat chemicals (example turpentine) nor be used as a refuse disposal unit.  It was designed to treat human waste and wastewater from sinks, tubs, washing machines, etc.

Reducing the quantity of wastewater involves using conservation practices.  Installation of low flow faucets, showerheads and toilets and spreading out water using activities such as laundry over the course of the week will reduce the volume of water entering the tank at any given time.   By decreasing the amount of water entering the tank, settling of solids can more successfully occur, reducing the likelihood that solids will enter the drainfield. 

Protecting the drainfield means avoiding activities that could potentially damage the trenches and/or compacting soil resulting in system failure.  These include:  avoiding driving heavy vehicles over the area; not paving, building or putting a pool on the area (typically permits are required which would prevent these from occurring); not planting deep-rooted trees on the drainfield or within 10 feet of the perimeter of the drainfield.  Lawn is the best cover for the drainfield. 

Use water saving plumbing devises to reduce the amount of water that enters the septic tank

Septic Systems