Septic (Onsite Sewage) Systems

The Department of Health investigates complaints related to septic (onsite sewage) systems. If you wish to make a complaint, you can call (260) 449-7530 or submit it to us online via our Complaint Portal. You can leave your name or remain anonymous. If you choose to leave your name with the complaint, it may appear on the public record. We typically follow up on complaints within 24 business hours.

Septic systems, or more currently known as onsite sewage systems, provide a safe alternative for disposing of household wastewater from showers, sinks, toilets and washing machines when municipal sewer service is not available.

Septic System LayoutWhen working properly, a septic system treats the harmful bacteria found in wastewater and disperses it safely within the soil of your yard. If not functioning properly, a septic system can pose significant health risks to people, pets and the environment by discharging untreated sewage onto neighboring yards or nearby creeks or ditches.

Backyard seepage, toilets that won’t flush, bathtubs that won’t drain, and illnesses from contaminated drinking water are a few of the problems related to these failures, not to mention the frustration of high repair or replacement costs.

The Department of Health’s Pollution Control division issues permits and conducts inspections for all new onsite sewage disposal systems (also known as septic systems) as well as repairs to existing systems in Allen County. Sites are also evaluated to determine suitability for installation of septic systems.

Below you will find information on state and local regulations, permit applications, information on septic system maintenance and other helpful resources.

For more information or to report a concern with a septic system, call us at (260) 449-7530.

Rules/Ordinances

State of Indiana Regulations

Allen County Ordinances

Permit Applications & Resources

Signs of a Failing Septic System

Homeowners may mistakenly believe their septic systems are working properly so long as the toilets flush properly and there is no smell in the yard or adjacent ditches. However, septic systems can fail in other, less obvious ways, so it’s important to recognize the common signs of septic system failures.

Those signs include:

  • Slowly draining sinks and toilets
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing
  • Plumbing backups
  • Sewage odors in the house or yard
  • Grounds is wet or mushy above your septic system’s absorption field
  • Grass is greener or grows faster above your absorption field
  • Tests show the presence of bacteria in nearby streams or well

Tips for Maintaining Your Septic System 

To extend the life of your septic system, it’s important to practice the following maintenance steps:

  • Have your septic tank pumped regularly. Over time, sludge and scum can build up in a tank. Make sure to clean the tank every  3 years, including the effluent filter.
  • Monitor water usage. Excessive water use can overload the system. Install a water meter to monitor usage and do not do all  the washing or laundry at one time
  • Be careful about what goes down the drain. Avoid flushing any objects or substances that do not easily decompose. Do not use “septic tank additives” as they may do more harm than good.
  • Protect the system. Do not drive or park heavy equipment over the absorption field or plant trees or shrubs within it.
  • Join the Allen County Onsite Wastewater Management District. Benefits include regular inspections and preventative  maintenance. For more information, call (260) 449-4181 or email to ACOWMD@allencounty.us

Educational Materials

Below is a educational video that shows homeowners what a septic system is, what it does, and how to prevent any potential problems through proper maintenance.

For a single copy of the video, please send your request and a check for $7 made out to the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, 200 E. Berry St., Suite 360, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

For multiple copies of the video, please contact ACOWMD@allencounty.us or call (260) 449-4181 for pricing information.

From the Purdue Extension Office

The Purdue Extension Service has published a number of information sheets on septic system maintenance.

Additional Resources