Septic Maintenance Guide for Cottagers

Guy talking to woman and point at a clipboardThere are a number of steps cottage owners can take to improve the functioning of their septic system and extend its life:

  • If you rent out the cottage, make sure there are clear directions of what can be flushed down the drain
  • Conserve water and reduce waste flow into the system
  • Install water saving features in plumbing fixtures such as shower heads, faucets
  • Fix leaky faucets right away and avoid the use of garbage disposal units
  • Only put biodegradable products down the drain. Disposal of non-biodegradable products such as condoms, feminine hygiene products, plastics, dental floss is not recommended.
  • Use eco-friendly and septic safe cleaning products
  • Anything bulkier than toilet paper does not belong in the septic tank.
  • Don’t flush chemicals down the drain.
  • Ensure septic tanks are inspected at least every two years
  • Have the tank pumped out at least every 3 – 5 years (or sooner since frequency depends on tank/household size)
  • Air bnb’s/short term rentals should be pumped at least once a year, we can help create a customized timeline.
  • Reduce the use of phosphate-based detergents, soaps and cleaners to minimize algae growth in nearby lakes and rivers (Phosphates can impair water quality and fish habitat)
  • Avoid having cottage guests park over the septic tank or leaching bed
  • Avoid extra traffic or weight over the septic system. This could potentially crush pipes or compact the soil or fill material
  • Make sure an effluent filter is installed in the septic tank. This will reduce the amount of solids entering the leaching bed and prevent clogs
  • Do not drive snowmobiles over the leaching bed area since this reduces the natural insulation of the bed provided by the snow
  • Do not drive ATV’s or any other vehicles over leaching bed.
  • Avoid planting trees or shrubs on the leaching bed area since roots can clog the perforated pipes and shade the leaching bed area
  • Minimize grass watering and water play (blow up pools, etc.) around the septic system
  • Direct rainwater runoff away from the leaching bed area and septic tank access ports
  • Do not schedule a pump out in the winter if the cottage will not be used as you cant leave a tank empty during cold months for long periods of time.

Download our septic tank maintenance Booklet (PDF) for detailed information about septic systems.