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Maintaining Your Septic Tank

Category Septic Tank
Septic Tank
Keeping the bacteria in a septic tank working properly is essential for breaking down the sewage. This guide is about maintaining your septic tank.
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October 28, 2009

For those of you on septic tanks; I had to have my tank pumped out last year. The guy who did the work, told me that instead of buying the expensive bacteria products, to pour a half gallon of buttermilk down the drain once a month and it would do the same thing!

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Source: Helpful worker!

By ssfelts from Tallassee, TN

Comment Was this helpful? 2

April 7, 2008

Spring is the time of year when those of us who use septic tanks are more aware of them. As Erma Bombeck once said, "The grass is always greener over the septic tank."

I like to think of the septic tank as if it were a large compost heap. Both systems work pretty much the same way. They use natural bacteria to make the contents rot. If you have something, like a chemical, that you wouldn't put in your compost, you shouldn't put it in your septic tank.

Because I use a lot of detergent and cleaners, I find it helpful to add a product made for septic tanks to restore bacterial function. To my layperson's point of view, this is similar to a person who has taken antibiotics and needs to restore natural bacteria in the digestive system by eating yogurt. (No, yogurt isn't probably right for your septic tank. I'm thinking its different bacteria. lol) I don't use yeast. It does have something in it that "grows" but I'm not sure what it is. I don't think it's bacteria that makes things rot. We want the solids in the septic tank to break down and become watery so they can be flushed out into the earth via the drainage field.

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I am careful about the type of toilet paper I use at my house. I always look for a brand that specifically states that its safe for septic tanks. My favorite brand is regular Scott tissue. One way you can tell for yourself if paper is safe for the septic tank is to see if it "melts" in water. If it can absorb a lot of water without "melting," I wouldn't use it. We want solids that decompose quickly so we don't need to get the tank pumped out. That's expensive.

I don't recommend a garbage disposal for households that use septic systems. I think they generate extra solids in the tank. Also, I don't flush solids from my cat's litter box for the same reason. I used to flush solids from baby diapers, but that was a very long time ago when people used cloth diapers.

If you reuse cleaning cloths, you need to think about what products you use to clean. Ammonia will kill bacteria in the tank, but vinegar wont. I'd say its a catch 22 because the antibacterial products that we have on the market are great for killing harmful bacteria in the home, but they're hard on septic systems. They kill bacteria there too. Consider dumping dirty water from your cleaning pail outdoors and not down the drain. Maybe you'd consider rinsing your rag with the hose before running it through the washer.

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All these tips add up to a healthy septic system. Wear your thinking cap and you'll be all right.

Good luck!

By Carol from Wyoming, PA

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By 0 found this helpful
November 14, 2007

Conserving water in the toilet tank (eg. filled water bottles inside the tank) is a wonderful idea IF you are not using a septic system. To reduce the amount of water going through the line is to just about guarantee yourself a clog. Unlike "city" systems, septic tank lines are more prone to 'heave' up, not being as slanted to carry waste downwards, and if there is not enough water pushing waste through, it's going to build up and cause bigger problems later. Had to learn this one the hard way ;) lol

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By PrairieLady from Colorado

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April 9, 20170 found this helpful

The bacteria in yeast is considered a good additive for septic systems. This is a guide about, "Can I use yeast in my septic tanks?.

Jar of yeast spilling out onto cap.

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February 11, 20170 found this helpful

A monthly dose of this homemade septic cleaner should keep your system working well. This is a guide about septic tank cleaner.

A cleaning tube in a septic tank.

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January 25, 20170 found this helpful

There are many household cleaners that are hard on septic tanks. In this guide, discover if vinegar is harmful to septic tanks.

white vinegar

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May 24, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about using brewer's yeast in a septic system. Many homeowners with septic systems regularly add brewer's yeast to keep their system functioning properly.

Using Brewer's Yeast in a Septic System

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August 24, 20120 found this helpful

Septic tanks function better when you select a toilet paper that is safe for use in, or especially made for use with a septic system. This is a guide containing toilet paper advice for septic tanks.

Safe Toilet Paper for Septic Tanks

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
March 20, 2010

Could someone tell me if there is anything you could use in your septic system to dissolve ice cream and milk products? We have an ice cream stand and the people are always putting the unused ice cream and milk down the drain and then the septic backs up. We have to have it pumped all the time. It does not dissolve the way it should.

By Glenn from Coalport, PA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 20, 20100 found this helpful

I use to pour RootX down our drain in toilet. It helped very much, never had to have it drained or pumped out, good luck.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
March 20, 20100 found this helpful

I don't know that those kinds of products will dissolve the fats, which is what is causing the problem. Unfortunately, your drain field is probably all clogged by the fat. I would call septic contractors in your area and ask for advice. You may need a new drain field. But they can probably put a fat trap in your system to prevent future occurrences.

I would also invest in bright, large signs that ask that milk products NOT be put down the drain. What a pain for you! Good luck!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
March 20, 20100 found this helpful

I am not a plumber or septic tank person of any sort, but I pour yeast down my commode each week. I was told by my mother in law that it breaks down stuff in the septic just like the other septic cleaners. I cant guarentee it works but worth a try to see if you notice improvement. I buy in bulk but pour the equivalent of 2 packages a week minimum..

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
March 21, 20100 found this helpful

Well, if you have an ice cream stand where else are the dairy waste products supposed to go? It's not a good idea to throw those into the trash bags as they will very likely leak immediately. Maybe it's just the sheer volume of liquid that your septic field can't handle. You probably need a professional cleaning pretty frequently as yours is a commercial operation.

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March 22, 20100 found this helpful

I thank everyone for there comments, but no one has any thing that we have not tried, and for the drain field and the drainage is fine but when you put milk and milk byproducts in the septic system it kills the bacteria and nothing dissolves the way it should. so thanks for nothing,

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
March 24, 20101 found this helpful

Sorry that you did not get the help you need, but this site is for people who appreciate what advice they get. The people here are such good and kind folks with plenty of wonderful advice, so for you to say "thanks for nothing" was very rude.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
March 29, 20100 found this helpful

Found this concerning septic systems and dairy waste:

http://www.exte  tems/DI1321.html

The bottom line is that septic systems and dairy waste never mix--you will have ongoing failure unless you either hook in to a municipal sewer system or dispose of the waste through your trash system. If you don't want to deal with leaky bags, throw a layer of cat litter or play sand to absorb the waste before disposal.

By the way, thumbs up, Marfette. If this were me, I think I would have done a little research into all aspects of business operations before dumping the dairy sludge into the septic system. Finding the info took under a minute just by Googling.

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Anonymous
November 16, 20150 found this helpful

I clean my drains once a month with Baking Soda and White Vinegar let sit for 10 minutes then pour warm to hot water down the drains.It's supposed to keep the sludge off the pipes and prevent it from building up.Too much sludge will narrow the hloe for draining.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 4, 2017

We just had our drain line from our septic tank replaced after 35 years of use. Our plumber put in a valve and told us to put mixing salt in it every so often. My question is what is mixing salt? Thank you.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 4, 20171 found this helpful

It is saltwater mixed with water and kills off the freshwater bacteria in the tank.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
February 5, 20171 found this helpful

I have never heard of that. It would kill the bacteria, but you need the bacteria for an effective septic tank. I would probably call him and ask.

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February 6, 20171 found this helpful

I lived in a house with a septic tank and our roommate/landlady added probiotic mix type stuff especially designed for septic tanks:

https://www.fre  hxsgoaAsTG8P8HAQ

This makes sense if you think about the fact that the septic system is analogous with the colon in the body, and you actually NEED helpful organisms to help everything break down.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
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By 0 found this helpful
October 28, 2015

Will the use of Epsom salts damage our copper bathtub? If not, will the use of Epsom salt baths damage our septic system?

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

Answers

October 30, 20150 found this helpful

I occasionally use Epsom salts to water my plants, Weezy, so I can't imagine a negative impact on you septic system. As to copper? Do you have anything else in the house on which you could do a test? But really, by the time you fill a bathtub with water, a cup of Espom salts is a very small amount, right?

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June 29, 20160 found this helpful

Epsom salts will definitely harm a copper bathtub; the place where I bought mine said so.

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February 10, 20150 found this helpful

What is involved in a septic tank inspection? I am not familiar with a septic tank and its care.

By Charles H.

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February 11, 20150 found this helpful

IF you have a lot of trees surrounding your land or nearby neighbors that roots can spread to your leach bed lines, then do this:

Each Spring before the rains pour forth, use copper sulfate (CUS-04) and put it into the septic system by removal of lid and pour it in mixed with water. As the rains begin, the water from the septic system will flow out into the leach bed lines and will kill tree roots that interfere with leach lines that can ruin the system and causing big problems later. Do not plant trees or shrubbery over leach bed lines or dig deeply into the soil with a garden plow, so you don't disturb the lines. You can buy this product at any lawn/garden or feed/grain store.

The more toilet paper is put down the toilet, the sooner the septic system will get filled and need pumped out; this isn't all that cheap anymore to have done, but you'll know if you have waited too long because of a noticeable outdoor odor in the air and sometimes causing toilet to not flush well.

Write down date of having septic system cleaned and you'll know just about when it's time to have it done again after the second time around. I'd also suggest that you do a lot of internet research on this topic so you are well informed. Ask the previous owners when the septic system was last cleaned. Other than that, it's all I can tell you as I can't see the layout of the land you live on.

There's also products you can buy that are yeast activated and break down the waste material faster that pours right into the toilet and is flushed. We never thought it to be that helpful and was a bit pricey.

Avoid driving heavy equipment over the leach bed lines; lawn mowers are okay.

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Read More Answers

February 10, 20150 found this helpful

I bought a house two years ago and don't know when the septic tank was last pumped. Should I have the septic tank pumped as a starting care and maintenance program?

By Charles H.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 14, 20150 found this helpful

Yes. Call someone in your area that does this, and consult with them. It may be possible to visually inspect it as well, depending on what type of system you have.

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Anonymous
April 1, 20160 found this helpful

No! Most septic tanks don't need anything done to them with regular use. Add some robic or ridx just to make sure. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

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July 16, 20140 found this helpful

Will mixing sugar and yeast in your toilet bowl and letting it stand over night then flushing help with the biological breakdown action ocuring in the septic system?

By Jim L

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
October 15, 20140 found this helpful

No it doesn't. This is an old myth that needs to end now! There are certain bacteria for fats, proteins, feces, urine, etc and each works only on that which it is made to digest. Use the bacteria you buy specifically for septic tanks. Once every 3 months is plenty for the average household of 4.

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October 20, 20140 found this helpful

While I agree that different bacteria do different things, those septic tablets are a crock of boloney. Nobody needs to buy those, and some of their sales reps are rude.

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May 14, 20050 found this helpful

It would be nice to have more info on the winterization of septic systems. For example if you have a 'pumped' system where the sewage is collected in a pumping station and then pumped uphill to a septic tank and bed should you leave this pump powered up over the winter or turn it off? The sewage ejector pump utilizes a float valve of course but nonetheless some ground water could conceivably get in the tank and the tank is just below the surface of the ground thus can freeze.

Skip

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July 18, 20050 found this helpful

In order to understand the problem can you explain it better? Where do you live in the country or city? Is their Regulations for septic systems? Why are their 2 tanks? mrmoose71943@yahoo.com

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By guest (Guest Post)
December 18, 20080 found this helpful

Why can you not use automotive anti-freeze with ethylene glycol in the toilets?

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December 3, 20130 found this helpful

Does granulated sugar work in a septic tank as a cleaner?

By J. H.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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