Escondido, California (NAPSI) - Did you know that one in four homes in the U.S. rely on septic (on-site) systems to treat wastewater? Homeowners are responsible for making sure that their system works properly. If you aren’t, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs.

During SepticSmart Week, September 22-26, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding homeowners and communities that regular care and maintenance will prevent failure of septic systems.

Failing septic systems can contribute excess nutrients to our water sources—lakes, rivers and groundwater. This can affect the safety of your drinking water if you get water from a private well or from a lake, as we saw in Lake Erie this summer.

With winter approaching, now is the perfect time to get your system inspected to ensure it is operating as designed. The added use that comes from summertime parties can put stress on your system; better to have it inspected now than wait until the holidays arrive and find that your system is not ready to handle the next family gathering!

Inspecting your system is not a do-it-yourself project and putting an additive into your system will not do the job, so go with a pro! The EPA recommends a professional, licensed inspection every three to five years, or annually for advanced systems.

As kids head back to school this fall, you can do your own homework by taking a look at daily activities that can affect the functioning of your septic system. Here are a few SepticSmart tips that are easy to remember:

Think at the Sink! What goes down your drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works. If you have a septic system, you should not pour grease down the drain or use a garbage disposal.

Don’t Strain Your Drain! Efficient use of water and staggered use of water-based appliances can improve the operation of your septic system and reduce the risk of failure.

Shield Your Field! Trees, cars, livestock or other heavy things on your septic’s drainfield can cause damage.

Don’t Overload Your Commode! Your toilet is not a trash can. The only product you should flush is toilet paper. Anything else can clog and damage septic systems, even if it says “flushable.”

For a full list of the Dos and Don’ts and other helpful information, go to www.epa.gov/septicsmart and get SepticSmart!