Written by: Keri Lewis & Jason Barrett, Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute

Dear Septic Tank Owner,

You probably don’t want to hear from me at all, but especially not at this time of year. I know you’re busy with holiday plans and celebrations. But nothing will turn your life from a Hallmark™ movie to a “Grinch” sequel faster than septic tank problems.

So, take it from me, your faithful septic tank, you CAN avoid catastrophe this holiday season. Just follow these three tips!

  1. Avoid overloading me. Did you know I get used to your usual amount of water usage? That’s right! I work with the bacteria that process waste to manage what comes in, and we get into a groove based on your typical volume. When you have extra people in your house, you’d really help me out by spreading out your water use. For example, stagger your loads of laundry, showers, and running the dishwasher.
  2. Watch out for FOG. Fats, oils, and grease clog me up!! Before you drain your cooking grease into the kitchen sink, stop and think of how that hot, liquid oil is going to turn into a nasty lump of goo as soon as it hits the cold pipes. And it really messes with my system! Please put fats, oils, and grease in an empty container and then in the trash can and not down the drain. Your garbage disposal and I will both thank you!
  3. Schedule a septic tank pumping before your company arrives. Nothing says, “Welcome to our home” like sewage backing up into the house. I don’t want to ruin your holiday, but if I’m full and there’s nowhere else for waste to go . . . you catch my drift. Septic tanks should be pumped routinely based on their volume and the number of people who routinely live in the house.

Check out EPA’s guidelines on how to care for your septic system, and Happy Holidays!