Septic Systems – Cleaning the Filter is a Must


Septic Filters

Septic (OWTS) Systems – Cleaning the Filter is a Must


It is a must do job and any homeowner who does not have a connected sewer must be aware that the newer OWTS (onsite wastewater treatment systems) have a filter in one of the two drop cover holes over the septic system tank.  Well let me tell you it is not a job I will do in RI real estate.  The way I see it is I deal with enough stuff in day to day living and I am not taking care of this one!  Sorry…Plus a homeowner’s concern is that they do not really know what they are doing the first time they need to remove the filter and clean it out.  Hire a professional, watch the process and ask the questions which will enable you to do it in future years.


A simple task that homeowners don’t want to do but it is an essential part of maintaining the health of your septic (OWTS) system.  The rule is to do it at least annually.  If you have a large household it is a must do.  I have seen many a new septic system bubble over the tank and back up because something as simple as the filter had not been cleaned thereby clogging the septic system flow of waste.  In North Kingstown RI and some of the other south county towns, it is required to pump your septic every three years at a minimum and the byproduct of the pumping is to also clean the septic filter.  However, that period of time may be too long to wait for most families.


 Let me talk about cleaning the septic filter, usually a zabel filter, which strains the food and other particles from descending into the septic D-box & leach field.  Not all septic systems have these filters on them and became prevalent in the 1990’s in Rhode Island.  It is worth to have one installed on your septic system if you do not have one.  You need to remove the front cover of the septic, have a pole with a hook, plastic gloves on & a water hose.  Remove the zabel filter, in a family, every 6 months and clean the particles off the filter and then replaced the cleaned filter back into the septic tank area.  Hiring a septic company to do it will cost you under $100 too.


Calling a maintenance septic company like I did is the easiest way to take care of it and be done with it.  Plus the company will determine based upon whether you have a garbage disposal (that’s a NO-NO for extension of a septic’s life), dishwasher, washing machine and number of people living in the house whether they can give you a deferment from pumping the system out.  My system fared well and I was spared from pumping my system for another three years ( a cost savings there too).


OWTS - keep them clean


Basically as the pictures illustrate, once the cover is removed to the OWTS, the zabel filter is

Septi (OWTS) cover

‘hooked’, pulled out and sprayed down with the hose.  The inspector checks the septic filter for clogging or determines issues to discuss with you.  It appears I have been a good householder and am extremely careful of products going into the septic.  With the cost of regular septic (OWTS) installations around $12,000 on up right now, keeping the septic system healthy for a long time is the goal.


 So how do you make sure you extend the life of your septic system besides cleaning the zabel filter clients always ask me?  Here are some tips from the septic experts I want to share with you:

  • Do not put toxic chemicals down your system.  That means down the toilet, sink or shower!  Rinse your paintbrushes outside the house.
  • Do not use a garbage disposal at all.
  • Do not put food down your sink.  Get a strainer from the dollar store and place it in your dish drain.
  • Flush only toilet paper along with your wastewater down the toilet.  Make use of a compost pile for all vegetable/fruit food waste.
  • Reduce your home water usage and time your washes for the dishwasher and washing machine on different days (or at least morning & night).  Use low flow water fixtures and repair leaky toilets.

I work with buyers and home sellers everyday to guide them in this process when I represent them as real estate clients.  Hopefully, it has helped you also.


Septic Systems – Cleaning the Filter is a Must


Ginny Lacey Gorman is your go to RI real estate agent for homes in North Kingstown RI and beyond…knowing the geographic area, schools, happenings,important tidbits of information and businesses well. She’s the RI Real Estate agent with the Sparkly Red Shoes.

Waterfront, oceanfront, luxury and coastal RI homes for sale are her specialty but all of RI is her backyard.  When you are in need of a good professional for your buying and selling needs and an internet savvy marketer who sells RI houses in this real estate market – call Ginny at 401.529.7849 or email her at today.


  1. Millie Hue says

    Thanks for pointing out that calling the professionals is the best thing to do in RI real estate home buying because they will be able to handle it as quick as possible. I will share this with my neighbor because I heard that their septic tank has been smelling bad lately. They are worried that we might complain that is why they told us as early as possible. This tip will convince them to let the experts handle it.

  2. Advanced Enviro-Septic says

    Installing a septic system is enough to make your home free from any serious disease.