Septic Tank Effluent Filters

Septic tanks are required by the Connecticut Department of Public Health to be equipped with effluent filters at the time of installation. These filters are inserted into the outlet baffle of the tank and serve to prevent small particles from entering the leaching field as liquid leaves the septic tank. One of the drawbacks of these filters is that in some cases the filters become clogged between tank cleanings and homeowners are faced with sewage backing up in the household plumbing, causing poor drainage, gurgling or even overflow into the house.

This usually occurs at inconvenient times and homeowners occasionally respond by removing the filter. They should remember that the debris that clogged the filter would, in its absence, have entered the leaching field, shortening its effective life. It is far less expensive to clean an effluent filter than to replace a leaching field.

Rather than discarding the filter homeowners would be better served to address the cause of excess solids in the system. The following are some thoughts that might help:

  • Have the filter cleaned as soon as drainage slows down rather than waiting until it stops.
  • Don't use kitchen garbage disposals. They add to the load of fine particles in the septic tank and will hasten filter clogging
  • If you have a toilet with an ejector pump, clean your tank more often.
  • If your system gets heavy use or the tank is undersized, pump it more often (every 3-5 years is normal).
  • Minimize use of bleach, antibacterial products, harsh chemicals, drain cleaner etc. They reduce biological activity in the septic tank.