You have heard the term "septic system" and "septic additive" being tossed around, but what do they mean? How is a septic system treated, and why are additives placed into it? Is a...
You have heard the term "septic system" and "septic additive" being tossed around, but what do they mean? How is a septic system treated, and why are additives placed into it? Is an additive something you need, or is it a waste of time and money? Take a look at the information below to learn about septic systems and additives, and contact Metro Septic Pumping with any questions you have.
Septic additives are chemicals that claim to improve the function of your septic tank or leach field. They can come in liquid, powder, or tablet form. Some contain bacteria, enzymes, or other microorganisms that they say will help break down solid waste in the tank or leach field. Others claim to be "digestants" that break down solids in the tank, reduce scum layers and remove odors from your plumbing fixtures. Still, others say they'll reduce sludge buildup in the tank or prevent drainfield clogging.
Some of these products claim to be able to keep your system working for years without pumping it out, but this is a serious misconception. Eventually, septic tank pumping is necessary because no additive can digest every piece of waste that goes into your system.
There are two basic categories of septic system additives: biological and chemical. Biological products are living organisms, usually bacteria or enzymes, and they are supposed to live inside your tank and break down waste. Chemical products contain acids, alkalis, or both. These chemicals change the pH balance of your tank and supposedly help keep things moving through it. However, because something is sold as a "septic additive" does not mean it will work as advertised.
The idea behind septic tank additives is that they speed up the breakdown of solids in the tank, preventing a buildup of sludge in the bottom of the tank and allowing more time before the tank needs to be pumped out. Additives are also supposed to help prevent clogs in the drainfield, leading to system failure.
Septic tank additives do not replace pumping, though. The need for septic tank pumping depends on how many solids enter the septic tank and how many solids accumulate in the bottom of the tank. Septic tanks must be pumped every three to five years on average, regardless of whether an additive is used or not.
In many cases, manufacturers' claims conflict with a septic company about what their products will do cannot be backed up with data from controlled scientific studies. In one case, a state attorney general successfully sued a manufacturer for making false claims about its product.
Many additives contain live bacteria or enzymes that eat away at waste, similar to drain cleaners that you can buy at hardware stores and grocery stores. There is no evidence that live bacteria and enzymes live long enough to do any good for your septic system when flushed down a toilet or drain.
If your septic system is operating correctly, there's no need to waste money on additives. Some additives can indeed reduce odors and soften sludge deposits, but they can't correct system problems — and they may even cause harm.
Additives won't fix a malfunctioning system, and no additive can replace the need for proper maintenance and routine pumping. And some "enzyme" products claim to break down sludge but instead just liquefy it, which leads to more frequent backups.
The EPA doesn't regulate additives. The EPA has evaluated many additives and hasn't approved them as safe or effective. The agency says that some additives may break down solids in the septic tank too quickly, leaving undecomposed wastewater that could clog the drainfield lines.
Additives may damage your system, and some additives contain harsh chemicals that may harm your pipes and drains or corrode metal components in your system. Always check with your septic company first.
Consult the Professionals at Metro Septic Pumping
Septic system additives are supposed to keep septic tanks and drain fields functioning correctly. Are they necessary? They can help in some cases, but they can do more harm than good in others.
Consult the professionals at Metro Septic Pumping for help making the right decision about whether or not to use a septic system additive.