If your home uses a septic system to deal with the wastes produced in your home, then you will need to care for both the septic tank and the drainage field. This means that regular maintenance tasks should be completed, like investing in tank pumping and inspecting the drainage field for odors and wetness. However, you do not want to be overzealous about maintaining the septic system, because you may end up damaging it instead. Keep reading to learn about additives marketed for use with your septic system and how they can cause damage.
Some people will dump cleaners or additives down their drains in an attempt to keep their septic system working well. While this may seem like a good idea, many additives are either useless, unhelpful, or harmful. There are two different types of additives or cleaners that are sold for use with septic tanks. These include chemical and biological products.
Chemical cleaning products are meant to restore failing drainage fields that have clogged with wastes. Clogs can form in the drainage pipes and in the soil and gravel that sit underneath the pipes. Clogs will cause back ups in the septic system, and they will create a wet drainage field. Wet fields may also be noticed if groundwater levels are high and fluids can no longer flow away from the area. In some cases, the wet field and back up will be the result of compressed soil underneath the drain pipes.
Most of the causes of drainage field failure will require the installation of a new field or the creation of openings in clogged, congested, and compacted soil. These are not the types of things that can be assisted with the use of chemicals. If you do use chemical cleaners or an additive, though, then you will be adding substances like sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, or hydroxide to the septic tank. These chemicals can kill beneficial bacteria and they can contaminate the soil if they work their way through the drainage field.
Biological septic additives are fluid solutions that contain a high concentration of bacteria. Your septic tank will naturally hold a great deal of bacteria, and these microorganisms feed off the organic materials stored in the tank. As the bacteria eat the wastes, they break them down into a dense and thick material called sludge. The sludge sinks to the bottom of the tank and fluids rise to the surface.
Bacteria naturally form colonies in your septic tank, and colonies will grow according to the amount of food that is available to them. This creates a balance in the tank that helps to control solid wastes. If bacteria do not eat the wastes, the solids can mix with fluid and fill the tank. Solid wastes may then flow into the drainage field. You may then notice a smell coming from your drainage field and also from your drainage pipes.
Additives are meant to rebuild bacterial colonies if they have been damaged. Damage often occurs when you flush household products down your drains like bleach, ammonia, and antibacterial soaps. However, an additive does not necessarily help with the rebuilding of the bacteria colony. Since bacteria multiply naturally under the right conditions, the colony will grow again on its own. Additives may only help this process a very small amount. They may also be useless, because bacteria will die fairly quickly without a food source. Bottled bacteria will have a very limited food supply. This means that you may be buying a container of dead microorganisms and adding them to your waste system. This will offer absolutely no benefit.
If you really want to help the bacteria that live in your septic tank, then stop flushing chemicals down your drain that kill the microorganisms. This is best instead of killing off the colony and continually waiting for it to grow back.
For more information and assistance with maintaining your septic system, talk with a professional company, like SOS Septic Inc.