Nantucket: On a Septic System?

A septic system is integral to the proper functioning of your house. Three main reasons to properly maintain your system are: expense (failed systems are expensive to repair and replace), health (your family health, community and environmental health depend on properly treated wastewater) and the Nantucket economy (failing systems can pollute our harbor and ponds impacting fishing, tourism and recreation. Here are some tips that will help maintain the health of your septic system. For sinks, toilets and showers: never use bleach, Liquid Plumber or Draino. Use Sodium Laurel Sulfate-free detergents for dishes, dishwasher, laundry detergent, shampoo and soaps. A lot of Trader Joe’s shampoos and soaps are SLS-free. Method, Mrs. Meyer’s and 7th Generation are NOT! Please read labels carefully or go on-line to find brands that are SLS-free.

Wipe out cooking pans of all grease and oils with a paper towel before washing them in the sink or the dishwasher. Expired salad dressings and oils should not go down the drain. Never put anything like paint thinner down the drain. If it goes down the drain it can end up in our harbors, ponds or aquifers!

Do not do all of your laundry loads at the same time; spread them out over the week. Please do not use Brewer’s Yeast or RidX. Some people say it is good for a septic system. It is not!

One of our own observations: if someone is going to be taking a bath in the evening, do laundry in the morning. All of the water draining out of the tub, in conjunction with a load of laundry, can be overwhelming to the system.

And, lastly, get your septic system pumped out every other year. Your system should be inspected every five years if it is a conventional system. For additional information please contact the Nantucket Board of Health at 508.228.7233.