SepticSmart Week has arrived!

Wastewater in Mahoning County, like other Ohio counties, is treated at a wastewater treatment plant or by a home sewage treatment system (aka septic system).  The further a residential property is from an urbanized area, where sanitary sewers are readily available,  the more likely it is serviced by a health department approved and appropriated septic system. 

Septic systems, when operated and maintained properly by homeowners, effectively treat waste generated from a household.  Two categories of septic systems exist within Mahoning County: onsite (on-lot) systems and off-lot discharging systems.  In both system types, waste generated from a household flows into a tank where solids settle to the bottom and oils float at the top of the tank. The liquid layer in between is wastewater or grey water.  When the tank becomes full, the wastewater moves from the tank into a drainfield where nature disinfects the water or a into secondary treatment chamber (off lot) allowing chlorine and/or UV light disinfection.  

Like a vehicle, house, or personal health, if not properly taken care of it can break down and/or fail.  The US EPA and the Mahoning County District Board of Health remind homeowners to know their septic systems and understand how to properly manage and maintain the system.  All too often, a system will fail because homeowners are not aware of their systems' needs and pumping (solid and scum removal) requirements.  

This week the US EPA is encouraging homeowners with septic systems to remember these simple tips:

  • Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a qualified professional or according to their state or local health department's recommendations. Tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years.
  • Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
  • Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day: too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
  • Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow. 

Illustration of an on-lot septic system

For more information about septic systems in Mahoning County, contact the Mahoning County District Board of Health at (330) 270-2855.