What Not To Flush

What you put into your septic system greatly affects its ability
to do its job. To reduce septic pumping:

Remember, your septic system contains living organisms that digest and treat waste. As a general rule of thumb, do not dispose of anything in your septic system that can just as easily be put in the trash. Your system is not designed to be a garbage can and solids build up in the septic tank that will eventually need to be pumped. The more solids that go into the tank, the more frequently the tank will need to be pumped, and the higher the risk for problems to arise.

In the kitchen, avoid washing food scraps, coffee grinds, and other food items down the drain. Grease and cooking oils contribute to the layer of scum in the tank and also should not be put down the drain.

The same common-sense approach used in the kitchen should be used in the bathroom. Don’t use the toilet to dispose of plastics, paper towels, facial tissues, tampons,sanitary napkins, cigarette butts, dental floss, disposable diapers, condoms, kitty litter, etc.

The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are wastewater and toilet paper. When used as recommended by the manufacturer, most household cleaning products will not adversely affect the operation of your septic tank.

Drain cleaners are an exception, however, and only a small amount of these products can kill the bacteria and temporarily disrupt the operation
of the tank.

Household cleaners such as bleach, disinfectants, and drain and toilet bowl cleaners should be used in moderation and only in accordance with product labels. Overuse of these products can harm your system.
It makes sense to try to keep all toxic and hazardous chemicals out of your septic tank system.

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To avoid disrupting or permanently damaging your septic system, do not use it to dispose of hazardous household chemicals.

Septic companies know: Even small amounts of paints, varnishes, paint thinners, waste oil, anti-freeze, photographic solutions, pharmaceuticals, antibacterial soaps, gasoline, oil, pesticides, and other organic chemicals can destroy helpful bacteria and the biological digestion taking place within your system. These chemicals also pollute the groundwater.

Even latex paint is unhealthy for your septic system. To reduce the cleanup of these products, squeeze all excess paint and stain from brushes and rollers on several layers of newspaper before rinsing. To help prevent groundwater pollution, be sure to dispose of leftover hazardous chemicals by taking them to an approved hazardous waste collection center. For more information, contact your local health department.

Septic Solutions Additives & System Cleaners While many products on the market claim to help septic systems work better, the truth is there is no magic potion to cure an ailing system. In fact, most engineers and sanitation professionals believe that commercial septic system additives are, at best, useless, and at worst, harmful to a system.

There are two types of septic system additives: biological (like bacteria, enzymes, and yeast) and chemical. The biological additives are harmless but some chemical additives can potentially harm the soil in the drainfield and contaminate the groundwater. While there hasn’t been extensive study on the effectiveness of these products, the general consensus among septic system experts is that septic system additives are an unnecessary evil.

Be aware that the extended use of strong pharmaceuticals and personal care products may harm the working bacteria population in the tank. The total effects are unknown at this time

PIPELINE – Fall 2004; Vol.15, No. 4 National Environmental Services Center (800) 624-8301 or (304) 293-4191

(Source: Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension Service.)