How We Maintain Our Septic System

Why it’s important to maintain your septic

Spring is finally here! And the big “thaw” is finally happening. Soon you will see some dirt sprouting. There was still quite a bit of snow last week here in cottage country. Depending in where your cottage is, there can still be a lot of stubborn snow pile here and there. We are one of them, being in the highlands.

When spring cleaning starts inside for most people, we tend to address ours from the outside first. We do the opposite. Last spring started this trend for us. Mainly because of one important aspect of cottaging that you should never take for granted – your septic system.

In some way, we did. And the pay back was huge! The smell gave it away, and in a very commanding way. When we had our home inspection, we were told our septic was in a very good condition, and that it was good for 5 years or more.

But one major thing we have forgotten is, we started to rent it out. Although only as a short term rental business, the septic usage has dramatically increased. That 2 months in the summer with 8 people every day using it, is definitely a “septic killer” .

You may not think it’s a big deal, but most city people, (your renter) know nothing about septic system. Even I have to explain this to my friends when they come over during the summer. And we have to attend a quick seminar to better understand how the system works.

And the main issue we had last spring are the food debris and “flooding” in our system. There are not enough solid organic material (hope you know what I mean) to liquid ratio in our system. And yes the food debris does not count as the solid material.

This is a problem when you rent your cottage out. You have no control over this. No matter how much you talk about it in your household rules, signage galore also may be ignored. Even the famous “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” framed sign I have is not catchy enough.

The end result of all this? We had a big leak that became very obvious due to the smell. We were in denial and thought it could be some farmer fertilizing his farm already! We were lucky that no “solid” material went to the surface. But it was really wet. And it was not due to the spring thaw.

Luckily there was an available local septic pumping service company that day. $200 later, we are good as new. So the initial verdict on our septic shelf life of five years were cut down to every 3 years of pumping. Yup and you bet that will be followed to a “T”.



Another reason to go “green”

As I have mentioned, it is very important for your septic to have a good solid:liquid ratio. Not having enough “solids”, means not enough good bacteria to digest the waste.

There’s a lot of septic tank system treatment in the market. I have purchased them online and have purchased one in store as well. Just be careful you are picking one that is all natural and easy to use.

Preventing a septic backup is crucial. That’s why there is a good reason for you to go “green” as much as possible. Think of your septic system as your digestive system. If you eat a lot of crappy food, you will not feel good at all and your digestive system can get out of wack.

And if you feed your septic tank with all the nasty and harsh chemicals from almost every household cleaners and not to mention all the chemically laden bath and body products we use on a daily basis. All these will kill the good bacteria protecting and maintaining the health of your septic.

But as they say, withdrawal syndrome is hard to beat. Like me, you can always do baby steps. One item at a time, until it becomes second skin. Your body and your environment will thank you. Not to mention the future of our children. I feel terrible thinking that it took me to live in our cottage to even think of seriously living green.


My favourite Eco-friendly products list

Please note there are affiliate links on this list. I will receive a small amount if you click and purchase. There are no extra cost to you at all. But you will definitely help me keep this blog running! Thank you in advance! 🙂

I have created a list of products that I have tried and will be trying very soon. These eco-friendly products are not cheap. Hence, I always do my research before even trying them. I research how these products are considered green, the percentage of them being totally chemical free. Nothing is really chemical free to be technically correct, so I use products as natural as possible.

Click HERE first to get your FREE Nano Sponge. A unique mini sponge that cleans with just water!

Coming from a family with sensitive skin, allergies and skin asthma as well as eczema, it is nice to break free from a lot of chemicals. So without further ado…

  1. Method – cleaning products
  2. Green Beaver – cleaning and body products
  3. 7th Generation – cleaning products
  4. Myer’s – laundry
  5. Natura – a home hardware product for cleaning and septic (Canadian brand)
  6. Honest Company – bath and body products
  7. Royale septic friendly toilet paper
  8. Rexall brand septic safe toilet paper – Canadian brand
  9. Enzyme Cleaner – all around household cleaner
  10. Nano Towels – replaces our toxic paper towels (Yes they are chemical laden too.)

One tip: If you have not already signed up for Ebates, please do so now. A lot of these item can be purchased through ebates. You get a cash back everytime you shop. Even if you are an Amazon junkie like me!

And after signing up at Ebates, look for store. Tons of natural and organic household, bath and body products, plus much more!

Use this code to get a $10 coupon (first time customers only) : 7e7ada2618

A cash back and $10 off is not bad when you are shopping for your cottage household needs. I rarely go to the store now. I do a one time shop at Ebates. Unless of course there are store sales and coupons that you just can’t pass.




Follow our maintenance how-to guide

This is how we do our regular septic system maintenance. We always try to re-visit our routine and see if we can change it a bit to optimize and at the same time save on cost.

  • This is mainly a preventive maintenance. As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So do your diligence and try to use as much natural products as you can. I know it can be costly at times. I have done a fifty-fifty in the beginning. You can try and do the same.
  • At least once a year, feed your septic system with “healthy bacteria”. When you are renting your cottage even if it is just a few weeks here and there, the risk of a septic back up is something you should not brush off. It is cheap enough and you can always get them in store or online.
  • Know where your septic system is located – very important to know where the opening is. The service company can charge you extra just for locating this.
  • Make sure you are not putting a lot of pressure on it. – No parking above the septic tank. Place a no parking sign when you have renters.
  • It is still worth it to put up a sign to protect your septic. Such as limiting flushes and toilet paper in the garbage for non solid waste use. Toilet paper contain chemicals that can kill your friendly bacteria. Unless you supply them, a reminder is always a good idea.
  • No feminine products and absolutely no flushable wipes down the toilet. These wipes are not really biodegradable. We have seen the service guys scooping them out of the septic. (Sorry don’t mean to be too visual). And we got a scolding from them too! 🙁
  • And of course septic pumping every 3 to 5 years depending on the size of your family or if you are renting your cottage, the number of people using your cottage per week and for how long.


Hope these helps. And I will update this guide if there is something that I have missed at this time. Feel free to add your own tips in the comment below. I definitely wanted to learn more. We take it seriously.



Well, as the rental season is fast approaching, we need to be on top of things. And the septic system is a priority, as this is the most important part of cottage rental. It can make a negative impact on your rental business if left un-attended or simply ignored. Plus, the feeling that you are in a way helping to protect the environment and your lake.

Enjoy the water, not the “floater”.

Comment below what you think. And please share your knowledge and expertise to everyone. My goal is to give a detailed review of the products I have listed above. I shall work on it and I might knock off some products above as I discover more and more products, more natural and cheaper. I Will keep you posted.




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