Septic Tank Bacteria & Additives

You rely heavily on your septic tank for everyday use, yet it’s sometimes easily forgotten until a problem arises. Treating and maintaining your system regularly is vital in preventing a big mess.

How the Septic Tank Works

When waste enters the tank, bacteria start breaking it down and separates it into solids that sink to the bottom (sludge), effluent (wastewater), and greases that float on the top (scum). Effluent then drains into the perforated pipes of the drain field where it enters the gravel and soil. Here, the liquid is naturally purified of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens until it trickles down into the groundwater.

Tank Maintenance

A pumping service is always recommended at least every 3-5 years to remove excess solids and liquid. This will keep your tank running at its best and prevent clogs from occurring.

Other than pumping and cleaning, additives like bacteria can be added every so often to give the tank bacteria a boost, since that environment is very important to the breakdown of waste.

Our professionals have tried and tested dozens of products and know the most effective ones to use in specific conditions. While you may come across plenty of options in your local store, many of them can be too harsh or dangerous. Don’t add anything to your septic tank without calling a Lakeland septic contractor first.

Septic Tank Additive and Treatments

It’s beneficial to understand the various treatments available and how they might affect your system. While some can be very helpful and promote healthy bacterial growth, others can be outright hazardous.

These additives generally fall into three categories: biological additives, organic compounds, inorganic compounds.

Hydrogen Peroxide

While hydrogen peroxide used to be a popular recommendation as a tank additive by septic contractors, it’s now found to cause more harm than was realized before. Hydrogen peroxide has been studied and found to cause soil degradation in the drain field, which impacts the soil’s ability to receive and purify wastewater. For long-term septic care, this product should be avoided at all costs.

Organic Solvents

Organic solvents are known for their impressive ability to break down grease and oils. Some of these compounds include trichloroethylene, methylene chloride, and chlorinated hydrocarbons. They work well in breaking down the buildup of greases that accumulate in the tank, but are damaging to the bacterial ecosystem.

Many states have banned organic solvents because they do not break down after leaving the drain field where they can contaminate the groundwater below. In general, they are just too much of a liability and not recommended in most cases.

Inorganic Acids and Alkalis

These compounds are yet another poor choice for your septic system. While the powerful chemicals are strong enough to destroy just about any clog, they can also easily kill the good bacteria in the tank and significantly slow down anaerobic digestion.

If that digestion is impeded from inorganic acids and alkalis, raw sewage can make its way to the drain field without being pre-treated. The resulting problems could be clogged up drain pipes, foul smells, and groundwater contamination.

Inorganic compounds are also highly corrosive and can damage pipes, tanks, and other components.

Biological Additives

The most widely accepted form of septic tank treatment is biological additives, such as bacteria and enzymes. These additives promote a healthy septic ecosystem and the breaking down of solids. Not to mention, they are not hazardous to the environment or local water supply.

Some of these substances can cause a buildup of methane gas if used improperly, so it’s best to have a trained septic professional determine if they are needed and how much is needed.

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Substances to Avoid Putting into Your Septic System

  1. Fabric softeners
  2. Medication
  3. Drain cleaners
  4. Bleach
  5. Antibacterial soaps

6. Latex products
7. Food
8. Excess detergent
9. Cosmetic products
10. Fats, oils, and grease (FOG)

Many of these substances will not only destroy important bacteria but can be corrosive and toxic. Groundwater contamination is another serious risk with certain chemicals. Homeowners should be diligent in being aware of what gets put into the drains and toilets

You Can Avoid the Need for Biological Additives by:

Lakeland’s Most Trusted Septic Company

Septic & Drainfield Depot has been treating septic systems for years and with the highest level of expertise. If you’re experiencing problems with your tank or drain field, give us a call so we can provide an inspection and properly diagnose the issue. Our estimates are free and we are ready to respond immediately to your inquiry.