Septic Tanks and Household Cleaners: What You Need to Know
Most homeowners use standard household cleaners without giving much thought to the way those cleaners can affect their home’s wastewater drainage system.
If you are a homeowner with a septic tank, however, you should be aware of the ways that cleaning products can disrupt the natural processes that take place in your septic tank. If you use the right cleaning products, you can protect your septic tank and promote optimal functionality. Here’s what you need to know.
Avoid Cleaning Products That Can Impact Septic Tank Functionality
Septic tanks are filled with bacteria that break down solid waste. Over time, bacteria in the septic tank turn some solids in the tank into liquid. Once the solids are liquefied, they exit the tank through the drain field. Without bacteria, solids would build up quickly in the bottom of your tank, which could lead to clogs and other issues.
Modern cleaning products are designed to kill bacteria, but some cleaning products do this job a little too well. The common household products below can damage your septic tank by killing the beneficial bacteria that break up solid waste.
Chlorine bleach changes the molecular structure of the proteins that promote bacterial growth. As it destroys the proteins, chlorine kills bacteria. Chlorine bleach is important for sanitary conditions when sanitary conditions are necessary, but there are many alternatives that work just as well for everyday household use.
For example, vinegar can be used to disinfect surfaces like counters and floors. Lemon juice is acidic and can also be used to whiten clothes. Many natural commercial cleaners are safe for septic tanks, as long as they don’t contain large amounts of oils, solvents, and disinfectants.
If you must use chlorine bleach, use it in small quantities. Additionally, space out the use of chlorine bleach to limit its impact on your septic tank.
More than 75 percent of soaps sold in stores are antibacterial. These soaps play an important role in settings like hospitals, doctor’s offices, and veterinary offices. Like bleach, however, antibacterial soaps can destroy some of the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank.
According to the FDA, there is no evidence that these soap products keep people more healthy than regular soaps. You can protect your septic tank by switching to a soap that does not contain antibacterial ingredients.
Read the labels carefully when you choose soap at the store. Again, antibacterial soaps are very common, so you may have to search to find the right product for your home.
Drain cleaners are designed to clear clogs by eating away organic material. Some drain cleaners may claim to be safe for septic tanks, but drain cleaners are harsh chemicals.
The best way to ensure that you don’t dump something down your drain that could potentially disrupt your septic tank’s bacterial cycle is to use a plumber’s auger to clear away clogs. Augers are similar to drain snakes used by professional plumbers. Augers can clear clogs without the use of chemicals.
To use the auger, push the corkscrew-like cable down the drain. Use the crank to turn the cable when it reaches the clog. After the cable pierces the clog, pull the cable out of the drain. This method is simple and effective.
Can’t reach the clog with your auger? Contact a plumber. Plumbers know methods to clear clogs safely without pouring chemicals down your drain.
Prevent future clogs by using a drain filter that catches hair and food before it’s washed down the drain. If you suspect that your drain is a little clogged, pour vinegar and baking soda into the drain and leave it there overnight. Vinegar is slightly acidic and will eat away clogs similarly to drain cleaner, and baking soda is a natural cleaner.
Pump Your Septic Tank Regularly
Septic tanks need to be pumped regularly, even if you manage to stop the use of bacteria-killing chemicals. If you reduce your use of bacteria-killing chemicals, you may be able to lengthen the time between pumpings. Your septic tank professional can evaluate your system and tell you how often your tank should be pumped.
Contact Your Septic Tank Professional Today
Septic tank care might be more complicated than you know. If you’re not aware of all the things you can do to take care of your septic tank, a clog could be in your future. To avoid this, contact an expert. Work with your septic tank professional to learn more about changes that you can make at home that can extend the life of your septic tank and ensure its functionality.
At Rob’s Septic Tanks, Inc., we’re happy to answer your questions about septic tank care and pump your tank when the time comes. Contact us today to find out more about how you can take care of your septic tank.