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Septic tank additives claiming to eliminate the need for pumping can compromise the functioning of septic systems.
Septic tanks contain all of the microbes needed to break down waste; the small amounts of bacteria and enzymes found in a single dose of septic tank additives have not been shown to significantly increase the efficiency of septic systems.
Disposing of harsh or toxic chemicals, or the use of antibacterial products, can kill the beneficial microbes in septic systems that degrade harmful substances in wastewater. Examples of chemicals which may harm a septic system include bleach, drain cleaners, disinfectants, paint thinners, pharmaceuticals, antibacterial soaps, and pesticides. These chemicals should be disposed of at transfer stations and, when they will be drained into a septic tank, used minimally.
Leaky faucets and other excessive household inputs will increase the frequency with which pumping is required. Draining large volumes of water into a septic tank (such as from a pool or hot tub) can stir up the sludge collected at the bottom of the tank, allowing it to escape potentially clog the drainfield.
Dental floss, diapers, feminine hygiene products, condoms and other non-biodegradable items should never be disposed of into a septic system as they may cause clog damage.
Groundwater runoff from driveways and patios as well as roof and drains and basement sumps should be diverted away from the septic tank's drainfield as flooding the drainfield slows down the treatment process.
Only grass should be planted over and near a septic system. Roots from larger plants may damage the septic tank or drainfield.
The area over a septic tank and its drainfield should not be paved or driven over. These activities can compact the soil causing slow drainage and reduced efficiency of the cleansing process. They may also cause damage to underlying pipes and other equipment.
Soil nutrient testing can be performed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to measure the amount of nutrients in the soil, and determine whether fertilizer is needed
Fertilizer is typically only needed on lawns if the density of grass is low and soil is visible. If the lawn density is high, no fertilizer is needed.
In Suffolk County, it is illegal to fertilize lawns between November 1st and April 1st. Fertilizing during that period can result in a fine of $1000.
Fertilizer should be added to lawns in the late spring and/or early fall. These times of the year are periods of high growth for the grass, the better time being early fall so the grass can best prepare for the winter.
During periods of high temperatures and low rainfall, usually during the summer, grass goes into a dormant state and slows growth and fertilizer should not be added to lawns during these conditions as it will not likely be used by the grass, and instead will be wash into groundwater.
Organic, slow release fertilizers release nitrogen slowly over time and because they are less likely to reach water ways should be used to decrease the chance of the nitrogen running off into the soil.
Fertilizers containing phosphorous should **only** be used when establishing a new lawn or if a soil test shows the phosphorous levels in the lawn are low. The amount of phosphorous is labeled on all fertilizer products
Applying grass seed to the lawn can also decrease the amount of fertilizer needed. Over seeding the lawn can help fight against fast growing weeds and can help keep the lawn dense. Species of grass that have a deeper green color can help give the lawn a desired green color without the use of fertilizer.