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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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!
Source: Helpful worker!
By ssfelts from Tallassee, TN
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.
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.
All these tips add up to a healthy septic system. Wear your thinking cap and you'll be all right.
By Carol from Wyoming, PA
If you live in a rural area, chances are you have a septic tank. Septic tanks depend on the action of bacteria to break down solids. You can prevent sludge buildup and keep bacteria working hard for you by using this formula once a month.
Mix thoroughly, pour into the toilet bowl, and flush.
By Francene from Bremerton, WA
Brewer's yeast can be used in the toilet once a month, to keep your septic tank leach lines flowing. It keeps the bacteria active in your septic system. No need for harsh chemicals.
By Terri H.
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Here are questions related to Maintaining Your Septic Tank.
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
By Cheri H.10/20/2014
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.
Does granulated sugar work in a septic tank as a cleaner?
By J. H.
How much brewer's yeast do you pour in and do you pour it in stool or septic tank?
By Kathy from Locust Grove, OK
By ShadowZ 11/10/2013
I've been in this house over 35 years and once a month I put one packet in the toilet
bowl and flush. In the beginning there were 6 kids and 2 adults, now only 2 and this house was built in 1949...(and no problems).
What affects does yeast have on a septic tank system, to use or not to use?
By Tom from Peculiar, MO
By Joan 11/11/2010
The bacteria in a septic system work in an airless environment and do quite well at breaking down solid matter from humans. The worst thing one can do is pour grease down the drain as it will form a barrier that eventually coats the lines. Dishwashers create another problem by making the liquid in the septic tank too alkaline. I'm using a system that has never needed pumping in 20 years because I don't use a dishwasher and greasy pans are well wiped with paper towels before the pans go in the water.
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
By Candy Killion 03/29/2010
Found this concerning septic systems and dairy waste:
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.
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.
By Matt (Guest Post)12/18/2008
Why can you not use automotive anti-freeze with ethylene glycol in the toilets?