A septic tank is an important piece of equipment that takes care of one of the most essential tasks in the home. Those living in rural areas that are not connected to a main sewage line often rely on septic tanks to dispose of household wastewater and sewage. A septic tank functions as a mini sewage treatment system that can break down and remove the waste material for an entire household. The interior of a septic tank is essentially a small eco-system that relies on bacteria to break down solid matter and separate it from liquid waste. There are many chemical and biological additives available for septic tanks that claim to prolong the life of the tank and increase its efficiency. However, a number of studies have found that introducing additives into a septic system can actually harm the tank and may even increase the amount of times that it needs to be pumped.
Septic tanks work by separating liquids and solid matter. Waste material is slowly broken down by anaerobic bacteria and is flushed from the tank along with the liquid into a drainage field. Any solid waste that cannot be broken down remains at the bottom of the tank as sludge that needs to be pumped out every two to four years. If they are properly maintained, septic tanks can last for up to 30 years, and controlling the amount of solid waste that enters the system will reduce the amount of times it needs to be emptied. Household chemicals such as bleach and drain cleaner should never be introduced into a septic system as they can kill off the bacteria that live inside the tank.
There are many additives available on the market containing ingredients such as yeast, bacteria, enzymes, or hydrogen peroxide that are designed to aid the fermentation process inside the tank. Some manufacturers even fraudulently claim that their product eliminates the need for pumping as the additive can break down all of the solid waste within the tank. However, septic tanks are more than capable of doing their job without the help of chemical or organic additives. As long as they are properly cared for, septic tanks create their own bacteria that feed off of the waste material inside and break it down into sludge. Homeowners should only add a small amount of bacteria to their tank if the existing bacteria have been killed off by excessive use of household chemicals.
Know Your Septic
Limiting the amount of solid waste that enters a septic tank is one of the best ways to keep it in perfect working order. Never flush items such as tampons, baby wipes, cigarettes or paper towels down the toilet as they cannot be broken down by a septic system. Homes that use a septic system should never install a garbage disposal as the small food particles collect at the bottom of the tank as sludge that needs to be pumped out more frequently.