Pandemic May Be To Blame For Uptick in Septic System Failures | New Hampshire Public Radio

Pandemic May Be To Blame For Uptick in Septic System Failures

Jun 17, 2020

Vent pipe of a new septic system for a new home construction in N.H.
Credit NHPR

More septic systems in New Hampshire are failing, and the pandemic may be to blame.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says it received more replacement applications in May of this year than in May of 2019.

Those replacements can be expensive, costing anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000.

DES spokesman Jim Martin thinks more people working from home may be responsible.

“Under the situation that we’re living in today, where many, many households have their entire families staying at home much more than they ever have in the past, there’s much more stress being put on their septic systems," he says.

People may also be using more antibacterial cleaners in their homes because of the coronavirus. Overuse of those products and disposing of them can be bad for septic tanks, which need healthy bacteria to work well.

Martin recommends monitoring the use of cleaning products and he’s reminding people septic tanks should be pumped every three to five years. 

There are fewer applications in general this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the percentage of failed application systems has increased from one third of all applications a year ago to 45% of all applications in May 2020, according to DES.

The number of failed septic systems increased last month to 250, up from 239 a year ago for May.