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Common Myths and Misconceptions About Septic Systems

A small septic  tank
If you're the proud owner of a septic system, you're not alone. Approximately one-quarter of homeowners in the United States enjoy the benefits of a septic tank. Whether you've had a septic system on your property for years or are a newcomer to this type of wastewater management, chances are you've heard a variety of information and advice about caring for the tank and drainfield.

Unfortunately, much of the information you've heard simply isn't true. Here are a few of the most common myths associated with septic systems.

Additives Mean I Don't Need to Pump My Tank

A common misconception about septic systems is that if you place a chemical or biological additive in the tank, you will not need to have it pumped as often or at all. Unfortunately, the chemical and biological additives won't break down the wastewater any faster or more efficiently.

Biological additives typically contain enzymes or yeast and are marketed as a way to either jumpstart the bacterial colonies in the tank or boost an existing colony. Chemical additives contain caustic substances, including sulfuric acid, and are often used to clean drains or help break down oils and fats inside the tank. 

However, you still need to have your tank pumped on a regular basis to prevent a septic backup or complete septic failure.

Septic Systems Last Forever

Another common myth is that once you install a new septic tank and system, it will never need to be replaced again. Even if you care for your septic system properly, which includes having it inspected yearly, repaired promptly, and pumped every three to five years, it will still need to eventually be replaced.

The typical lifespan of a septic system is around 25 years, provided that you maintain it properly. However, if the tank isn't pumped regularly or if you put too much strain on the system, it will often need to be replaced sooner.

Regular Garbage Disposal Use Won't Hurt the System

You might think of your garbage disposal as a lifesaver, and you cannot imagine life in the kitchen without it. Unfortunately, using your garbage disposal several times a day or week can have a negative impact on your septic system. Placing copious amounts of food, oils, and grease down your garbage disposal will put a strain on the system and will disrupt the natural breakdown of waste.

Certain foods should never be put down your garbage disposal if you have a septic system. These foods include:
  • Egg shells
  • Oils and grease
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Pasta
  • Celery or any fibrous fruits and vegetables
Your septic system won't be able to break down these foods very well. Using your garbage disposal sparingly, or not at all, is the best option. If you have a lot of food waste that you don't want to put in the garbage, consider creating a compost pile in your backyard instead.

Household Cleaners Won't Hurt My Septic System 

Finally, a pervasive and potentially devastating myth associated with septic system is the acceptable use of typical household cleaners. Household cleaners typically contain several chemicals, including bleach and ammonia, that can kill the bacteria in your tank. Additionally, any detergents or hygiene products that are labeled antibacterial should also be avoided.

Antibacterial products kill the bacteria on your clothing, hands, and the bacteria found inside your septic tank. Instead, stick with products that feature the septic-safe or septic-approved labels on the bottle.

These are several common myths and misconceptions associated with owning and caring for a septic system. If you have any further questions about your septic tank, contact the professionals at AAA Whites Septic Tank Services, Inc.