Should I Use Septic Tank Additives?

If your wastewater is treated by a septic system on your property, then you have probably heard about septic tank additives. These additives, which can be either chemical or biological, are available at chemical stores, septic tank services/suppliers, and in discount stores across the country. These products are sold as a means to increase the efficiency of a septic system’s breakdown of waste.  Approximately 1200 different additives exist in the current market. You may have heard mixed messages about whether additives are helpful, and you might be wondering if you should include them in the maintenance of your system.

What is the Purpose of Septic Tank Additives?

The main functions of septic tank additives are:

  • To assist in liquefying solids that enter the septic system
  • To increase and reset the amount of bacteria in a system after a decrease in bacterial levels
  • To improve the ability of solids to settle in the system

Despite the fact that additives are created to complete the above functions, many consumers are led to believe that additives can solve a plethora of septic system issues, from alleviating clogs to improving scum breakup, to increasing time between pumpings. Unfortunately, most of these beliefs are incorrect. In fact, in many cases using additives can do much more harm than good.

Negative Effects of Additives

Biological and chemical additives can both be tremendously harmful to your septic system in several ways. First, using biological additives such as enzymes and bacteria can actually increase the biological activity so much that excess solid waste finds its way into the soil absorption system, resulting in substantial clogs. In addition, enzymes can break up scum so much that it interferes with the scum’s ability to hold onto fats, greases, and floating waste that should be withheld from the soil absorption system.

Secondly, chemical additives such as sulfuric acid, hydrogen peroxide, and formaldehyde can be very detrimental to the function of your septic system. These chemicals, when introduced into the septic system through drains or poured directly into the septic tank, can decrease the necessary microbial population, can compromise the ability of soil to absorb wastewater, and can cause structural damage to the concrete inside the septic tank. None of these outcomes are good news for the function of your septic system.

Are Septic Tank Additives Necessary?

Only in very few, specific circumstances should you ever need to use additives in your septic system. Biological additives may be helpful in instances where the naturally occurring bacteria levels in the system are compromised because of a household member who takes antibiotics or due to a caustic chemical entering the system through a household drain.

On a regular basis, chemical and biological additives should never be added to your septic system. They have a proven record of doing significant harm, and there is little evidence that they do much good. In fact, if you maintain your system by only disposing of materials that the system is made to handle, and you schedule regular pumping every 3-5 years, your septic tank and the naturally occurring bacteria found in human waste should work to allow your system to run efficiently and effectively without any added products.

If you have more questions about septic system additives, or if you need advice on how to properly maintain your system, give the experts at Affordable Sanitation a call today. We will be happy to assist you with all of your questions, advise you on maintenance and care, and provide for all your septic service needs.

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