Health Division Advises About Maintaining Septic Systems

Health Division Advises About Maintaining Septic Systems

With the increased use of flushable wipes, homeowners should be aware of the damange these products can do to septic systems. Oakland County Health Division, under the leadership of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, reminds all residents of basic steps that can help prevent septic system failure.

"Even though they are labeled as 'flushable,' these wipes may go down the toilet, but they are not breaking down sufficiently and are harmful to your septic system," said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer. "It can be costly to homeowners to unclog pipes, pumps and to replace or upgrade septic systems."

A buildup of wipes or other materials in a septic tank require a tank to be pumped or serviced more often. A septic system is expensive to repair or replace and poor maintenance is often the culprit. There are more than 80,000 septic systems in the county that have the potential to be impacted by this problem. The Health Division reminds residents to maintain septic systems by following these steps:

  • Avoid putting dental floss, feminine hygiene products, flushable wipes, baby wipes, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, or paper towels in your septic system. Cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, and ground-up foods from garbage can also clog your system.
  • Pump septic tanks every three to five years. Know the location of your tank.
  • Use water efficiently by washing only one or two loads of laundry a day. Repair leaky faucets and toilets.
  • Limit or avoid kitchen garbage disposals. Consider composting kitchen waste instead. 
  • Do not use septic tank starters/feeders. They might cause more solids to flow into the drainfield and do more harm than good.
  • Pour grease or oil into a container with a lid and place into the trash once cooled. Do not pour down drain.
  • Do not overuse cleaning products or dump excess cleaning products down the drain.
  • Do not dump or flush unwanted pesticides, fertilizers, paints, solvents, or other hazardous materials down the drain. For more information regarding disposal of toxic items, visit or call 248-858-5656.

For more information about septic systems, visit, contact the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533.