Should You Use a Septic Tank Treatment

All the wastewater from bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms flows into a septic tank. Heavier solids settle to the bottom of the tank (forming sludge), and lighter greases float to the top of the tank (forming scum).

Regular inspections and pumping help keep your system working properly. If you want to reduce the frequency of your tank cleanings, consider a biological septic system treatment product.

Biological additives

There are a lot of biological and chemical additives for septic tanks. Some claim to reduce the frequency of tank pumping and help prevent clogs. However, there is evidence that these products can harm the septic system by killing bacteria and poisoning the soil in the drainfield. In fact, most experts recommend avoiding the use of these products altogether.

Some septic tank additives contain powder or liquid bacteria and enzymes. These additives are often sold in grocery stores, hardware shops, and online. They are advertised as a way to boost the bacteria in a septic tank and improve the quality of wastewater. The problem is that adding bacteria to a septic system doesn’t work, and the addition of enzymes also has little effect.

Other septic tank additives contain chemicals like paint thinners and sulfates, which disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in a septic system. These compounds can also contaminate groundwater and cause a septic tank to overflow. Other chemical additives, such as calcium, attempt to raise the pH levels in a septic tank so that the bacteria will be more active. However, this is not a good idea because it will kill the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank.

There are some organic septic tank additives that combine enzymes and bacteria to break down FOGs (fats, oils, and grease). However, these products can contaminate groundwater and may require special disposal techniques. In addition, they do not work any better than a well-maintained septic tank. The best way to keep a septic tank healthy is to avoid putting non-biodegradable waste down the drains, including paper towels, napkins, and wet wipes. It is also a good idea to have the septic tank pumped and inspected regularly.


A septic system contains bacteria that break down and digest household waste. The resulting liquid waste travels to a drain field in the soil, where bacteria further purify it as it filters through the pores of the soil. A septic tank must be pumped periodically to remove the solid waste layer that accumulates at the bottom of the tank and the scum layer that collects in the top.

A home’s waste production rates determine how often the septic tank needs to be pumped. The best way to know how often to have the tank pumped is to ask a professional for an inspection. They will recommend a pumping interval, usually every two to five years. It is possible to go longer than this interval, but it’s best to have the tank pumped before that time frame elapses.

Store-bought septic tank additives may seem to offer a solution for getting your septic system to work better, but they aren’t good for the septic system or for your family’s health. The chemicals in these additives kill healthy bacteria and interfere with the settling of solids.

Keep garbage disposals turned off as much as possible, and don’t pour fats, grease or cooking oils down the drain. These materials can clog the septic tank or flow into the drain field and contaminate the absorption soil. Avoid driving or parking vehicles or farm machinery over the drainfield, and plant only grass and shallow-rooted shrubs around it.

Inorganic treatments

The chemical solvents in inorganic Septic Tank Treatment are strong alkalis or acids that help break down pesky waste materials. These products are often promoted for their ability to open clogged drains, but when used improperly, they destroy the natural bacteria in your septic system and contaminate groundwater. These chemicals also leach into the soil and corrode concrete tanks and pipes. In addition, they may cause the septic system to fail.

In a septic system, wastewater from toilets (called blackwater) and showers, bathtubs, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers (called greywater) flows into the septic tank. Once in the septic tank, solid waste falls to the bottom to create a layer known as sludge. Fats and oils float to the top of the tank to form a layer called scum. Anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank feed on these organic wastewater pollutants. The liquid waste passes through an effluent filter and into a series of perforated pipes in the septic system’s drain field.

Some septic tank additives attempt to provide additional food for the bacteria in the septic system by adding carbon, mineral, grain, meat, protein or other substances into the septic tank. These products are counterproductive because septic system bacteria need to break down the organic waste in the septic tank without additional food. Yeast, which some people toss into the septic tank, is not helpful and can actually speed up drain field failure by keeping septic tank contents in an agitated state.

Drainfield maintenance

A healthy septic system requires conscientious maintenance by the homeowner. What your family does in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room determines what goes into your septic system. For example, the more food waste that ends up in your drains, the more sludge and scum will build up in your tank, requiring you to have it pumped more often. Pouring cooking grease down your drains may clog the inlet or outlet pipes, and a garbage disposal doubles the amount of solids that enters your septic system.

You can limit the amount of solids that enter your septic system by composting kitchen scraps or using the garbage disposal sparingly, and you should never flush pharmaceuticals, petroleum-based products or household chemicals like paint, solvents, pesticides or antifreeze. These toxins affect how well the natural ecosystem of anaerobic bacteria works in your tank.

It is also important to avoid landscaping or building structures over your drain field. Plants, trees and shrubs can ensnarl or damage drainfield pipes, and they also can expose your yard to sewage effluent. Native grasses and ground covers are the best choice for this area. Be sure to check with your local designer or permitting authority before planting anything in or over the drainfield. And finally, children and pets playing on the drain field or putting heavy objects on it can damage the perforated pipes or soil pores.

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